Wine tasting can be a gratifying sport on so many levels. There is, of course, the pleasure of tasting a good glass of wine. Interesting food can also abound, and often does (case in point: the delicious little Venetian cakes make from saffron-flavored risotto and cheese I had yesterday). Wine tasting is also best enjoyed with good friends, because good comradeship only adds to the pleasures of food and drink. Perhaps the most fun of wine tasting can be found, however, in watching a large number of people get together and slowly get drunk over the course of an afternoon.
Yesterday was a case in point. My girlfriend S., two good friends D. and J., and myself piled into my girlfriend's car and headed north for the Russian River Wine Road's 25th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend in the Sonoma region of California. It's quite the event: $5 gets you a glass, and that gets you free wine tasting privaleges at some 100 or so wineries in the Sonoma Valley over the course of the weekend. That, my friends, can lead to a hell of a lot of wine for only five simoleans. It is also quite the place to watch people, as we found out.
Some people you see fall into the "what in the name of all that is beautiful and holy were you thinking when you put that on????" category. To these folks, I have to say that I'm sorry but just because you think you are a pop star in your own mind doesn't mean that you get to dress like one. The big winners in this category were the abominable things we saw done with lycra -- mostly involving stretch pants somehow pulled over large hips that haven't seen the inside of a gym or health club since Reagan was President. This included a woman wearing something that resembled a skin-tight track suit, all black, with a single bright red stripe running all the way down both sides of her body. Perhaps the "Tour de France" look is going to be in this year?
The next group of intrepid wine drinkers we encountered were those involved in conspicuous consumption of all things bold and beautiful. One man, for example, had a watch that seemed to represent the gross national product of a small third world nation. Its face and band were all very bright 24K gold, with 12 diamonds where each numeral on the watch face should be, plus two more bars studded with diamonds above and below the rectangular watch face. When caught in sunlight, it could potentially blind you from across the room. Another contender was a finely coiffed older woman with an engagement ring that had a diamond the size of the Rock of Gibraltar on it. Well, maybe it wasn't that big... but it wouldn't have looked out of place on the hand of Ms. "Jenny From The Block" herself.
Some people we saw were just plain drunk. One group of unfortunates that probably fall into this category were involved in an auto accident. We had just turned back out onto a main road after tasting at one particular winery when we saw two cars stopped about 50 feet in front of us. People were getting out of both cars, including one who staggered around and laid down at the side of the road. As we got closer, we could assess what happened: one car rear-ended the other with the bulk of the damage done to the car bringing up the rear. Fortunately, several people witnessed the accident as it happened (we didn't) and many of them were already on the phone to bring help. I hope everyone came out of that one all right.
Lastly, there were people we saw that we could only gaze at in wonder. One of these included a co-owner of one of the wineries we visited. She happened to mention while chatting at the wine bar that she has three daughters, all of whom are cheeleaders. This struck the female members of our group immediately, who privately commented that there was no way she looked like she had three children. From then on, we privately hoped that whatever secret she had to looking great was incorporated in the wine her winery made... and we resolved to drink more of it in future.
on 2003-03-03 at 11:20 a.m.
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