Kitsgals love good and expensive wine. I must admit – I enjoy wine as well but, until recently, I didn’t realize there was a whole underground culture devoted to the pursuit of it.
Last Monday, I was in my local wine store buying my usual bottle of Naked Grape September 2008 when the lady at the counter suggested I attend their wine tasting event happening that very evening. I must admit, I was skeptical.
“How much to attend?” I asked, thinking I could probably buy a good four to five bottles of Naked Grape for the price of admission.
“Oh no. It’s free to all our loyal customers”, she replied, perhaps as a hint that she had seen me too often in the store as of late and that the term “loyal customer” was code for “rampant alcoholic.”
So at 8pm on a cold Monday evening, I arrived back at the store for my free wine tasting. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I suppose I expected to see a bunch of rich people speaking in faux British accents discussing the necessity of installing the right air control unit in one’s wine cellar.
There were definitely such folks there, but I found myself gravitating to another group. These were people that looked vaguely uncomfortable (if not slightly guilty) about being there but were doing their best to fit in. They had the same look on their faces that I had all the way through high school. I instantly bonded with this group and they accepted me as one of their own. Within minutes I came to know all of them.
My wine tasting kindred spirits consisted of the following folks:
- Mindy: An accounting clerk, mid 40s, Enjoys wine but read in a Cosmo article that wine tastings could be a great place to meet guys.
- Steve, Todd and Bruce: Aussies. Ages 25, 21, and 28 respectively. Been in Canada for six months. Soon heading to Whistler to work as ski lift operators. Currently working in a cheese shop on Granville Island. They were responsible for bringing the cheese (and the beefcake, hello!) to the tasting.
- Ronald: A bookstore employee. Used to work at a wine shop. Mid to late 50s. Dreams of owning his own vineyard in Portland one day.
- Melissa, Christine and Brian: UBC students. Majors are teaching, teaching and teaching respectively. All just turned 19. Out to get as much booze as possible now that they are legal.
The more I chatted with my people, the more I learned that this was not a one time event for them. No. This was a group of people who had figured out that on pretty much any evening in this lovely city there was a wine tasting event where you could drink great and expensive wine for free.
We positioned ourselves very close to the cheese and snack table – the Aussies needed to add more cheese to the platters for the guests whenever it ran low. Unfortunately, what they didn’t realize was that most of their cheese was going in the backpacks of the UBC students. Ahh…student life.
The wine we were tasting tonight would be a bunch of Australian Shirazes, which got a big whoop, whoop from my corner courtesy of our cheese suppliers/ski lift operators and Mindy, who as of very recent times had vowed to take up skiing.
The wine expert instructed us on how to evaluate the wine – to check out the legs, the body, the package, the rack…really it all became quite naughty and reminiscent of a night at the Roxy when I was in my early 20s, but after a few rounds I was ready to check out anything!
The expert also gave us lots of direction so we could experience the wine correctly.
Expert: Smell the wine in your glass. You will be able to smell its history.
The Knowledgeable People in the Group: Ahhh….yes, a bee born in October pollinated the grapes. Yes. A Scorpio bee with 23 black stripes. Ahhh….
Expert: Look at the wine as it moves in your glass. You should be able to hear it talk to you.
The Knowledgeable People in the Group: Ahhhh…Yes, it says I am a good vintage. I hear it sing to me. Yes, it is singing a Midnight Oil song. Ahhhh….
Expert: Take a small sip. You should be able to taste the quality of the dirt the grapes were grown in.
The Knowledgeable People in the Group: Ahhh. That is a good Aussie winter topsoil. Gritty. Dirty tasting. I can still taste a twig and rocks. Ahhhh….
When it came to me, I honestly couldn’t taste or smell any of the elements the expert was describing so I just started my own system.
One question. One answer. After quite a few drinks, that is really all the brain can handle.
Would I want to get hammered off this wine? If the answer was yes. It was good. If the answer was no, it was bad. So simple.
The evening went on. At first, I was a bit miffed at the small size of the samples the waiters were pouring…but after about sixteen tastings…I was getting quite a good buzz. Quite good. Yes, very good. Pretty soon, I was becoming less discriminating and would have agreed to have gotten hammered off of a bottle of vanilla. And, I also found it easier to smell the wine, taste the wine and listen to what the wine was telling me.
Before I left for the long stagger home, I gave all of my new found wine buddies a hug and vowed to see them at another wine tasting soon….perhaps tomorrow or Wednesday!