This week has been rough. We were in Houston all weekend (more on that potentially soon) and then right when we got back, my wife left for a week for a conference. So I have been running around doing the single parent thing (which is no cakewalk, I assure you). The result is that I have not had much time to drink, let alone write.
A couple of days ago, the writer of one of the blogs I read (The Food and Wine Hedonist–the title is complete BS as he never writes about wine unless he finds a bunch of old wine in a garbage dumpster, but he is a witty and entertaining writer) reblogged a post that he wrote about 37 years ago when he started his blog. At first, I was going to give him some grief for essentially “mailing it in” but then I realized that, heck, it was not such a bad idea. Of my nearly 1000 posts, I think only two or three were “reblogs” so you can go ahead and make me feel like a dufus if you like, but it probably will have little effect: I already know that I lean toward dufus-ness.
So here is my fourth ever post, from back in January, 2012. I re-read it last night and decided that my writing style has changed a bit since then, so I decided to rewrite it (back in the beginning I swore a bit in my posts, but since nobody was reading them, it really didn’t matter–if you swear in a blog post but nobody reads it, is it still offensive?). If you really want to check out the original, you can find it HERE.
When you’re a “wine guy” there is certainly considerable responsibility, some of which is covered in my last post. Ah, but only if it stopped there. The one thing all wine guys like to do is drink wine (news flash) and most of the time drinking wine is even more enjoyable when you drink with other people. There are exceptions to this, of course: most of my relatives (my mother used to have the same box of Franzia ‘Sunset Blush’ in her fridge for years) and my father-in-law come to mind. (My father-in-law is actually a really good guy to drink wine with, but it seems he only buys red wine that he purchased at the $.05 sale at BevMo–you buy one bottle at the normal price and get a second for a nickel–and I am pretty sure he has it in his head for which of the two bottles he actually paid the nickel and that is the only bottle we will drink–he saves the full-price bottle in hopes that it will eventually become vinegar.)
Since all of our relatives live safely out of state, we frequently have people over for dinner and crack a few (too many) bottles of wine. Most of the time, people we invite know I am a ‘wine guy’ so I get a bit of performance anxiety and fret for hours over the wine to serve with dinner. I have this vision that people are going to come over expecting a wine epiphany and as the wine guy, I am obliged to provide it. Strangely, there seems to be an inverse proportion at work here–the more I fret over the wine, the less people pay attention to it at dinner, and there has yet to be an epiphany, but I have yet to learn anything from that.
There is also another odd phenomenon: when we invite people over who know I am a “wine guy” they inevitably say something to the effect of “What can we bring–other than wine of course, I wouldn’t dare bring ‘the wine guy’ any wine.” So they go buy a chocolate tart or a bouquet of flowers or a jack-o-lantern. Nice gestures, sure, but…
While on the one hand, I understand–people may be intimidated. I drink a lot of wine and people think I know a lot about wine. Generally, the average schmuck thinks they know very little about wine, so that is where the insecurity may set in. For example, we are always hesitant to invite our friends who are professional (or really talented amateur) chefs over for dinner because we feel that they will be judging our cooking. In fact, when we have professional chefs over from the restaurants we like to visit, my wife (who is Korean-American) will only cook Korean food since she figures they will have no idea whether it is crap or not (it isn’t–her Korean cooking is top-notch).
But here is the key:
Let’s think of something other than wine, say gummy candy. Let’s say you knew someone who was known as the ‘gummy candy guy’. Absolutely went bonkers over gummy bears, worms, cherries, hand grenades, whatever. Would you even hesitate for one stinking second to bring him some gummies? Heck no. Not for one nanosecond. In fact, I bet the ‘gummy candy guy’ could have gummies coming out of his rear end and still gets a boatload of candy when people come over. Now you might bring a small bag of “real” Haribo Gummi Bears from your last trip to Germany, or a 17 pound bag of closeout colossal gummy hippopotamuses from the store in the mall that was going out of business, but sure as shootin’ you are going to take that bozo some candy.
What about chocolates? Same thing. Beer? Sure. But wine? Not a chance. “I wouldn’t dare bring any wine to the ‘wine guy’.” Does that make any sense to anyone? If so, could someone please explain it to me? Would you ever say “I am not going to bring you any chocolate because you like chocolate”??? Or, “I hear you really like collecting spoons so here is a bouquet of flowers”??? Why is there such a fear of bringing a bottle of wine?
Bringing wine to a wine guy is nothing like my wife’s fear of cooking for Julia Child since wine guys are not expecting you to bring over a bottle of wine that you made yourself! In fact, I hope you never decide to do that unless your name is Wes Hagen or Ehren Jordan. Having to try some bathtub wine sludge might be my worst nightmare–and my wife would be horrified. Not since she would have to try the wine too (she would never admit it, but that would scare the bejesus out of her, too–mostly since it was made in a bathtub–I assume it is a nasty feet thing), but because she knows I would not be able to hide my feelings about how it tasted for even one nanosecond. Sure, I would say the right things (I think), but my facial expressions would certainly let everyone know what I thought of the rot gut swill.
Luckily, I have only had to go through that once and, coincidentally, we have not seen those people again.
So unless the “juice” in the bottle is your own creation, wine guys are not judging you by the wine you bring over. I know that when I taste a bad bottle of wine, I do not think of who paid for it as much as who made it. Really, there is a ton of perfectly acceptable wine out there–and you do not have to spend half your paycheck, either. Generally speaking, even if you know absolutely positively rock bottom bupkis squadouche about wine, if you spend at least $10 and it comes in a regular size wine bottle (i.e., 750 ml), no wine guy is going to throw you out of their house or spit in your food. Really. Unless the guy is a complete jerk, but you wouldn’t want to hang out with one of those anyway, so who gives a honey badger?
There is an exception to this rule! Please, please, please, PLEASE do not bring the ‘ironic’ bottle/jug/box of wine, thinking you are absolutely hilarious and that you are so incredibly clever since you are the first to think of this.
Because you’re not–on both counts.
All of us wine guys (I think I can speak for all of us) have received a 5 gallon jug of White Zin (I used one as a door stop in our old house for about three years), a magnum of some wine with some sort of critter or critter’s tail on it (you know exactly what I mean), or a 3 gallon box of Franzia (I returned it and bought a decent wine in a bottle–they had actually spent $16.95 on the box!). Really, it was not funny the first time and it won’t be funny the next time. Heck, even a bouquet of dandelions that you pulled out of your lawn would be funnier.
This is not an attempt to convince people to bring crack to an addict (OK, maybe it is). Rather, it is just another attempt to take a bit of fear and mystery out of the wine experience.
The next time you are going to have dinner with a “wine guy” and you want to do something new and unique:
Bring a bottle of wine.