Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Tasteful Walk Through Time

Last night was maintenance night. This is the night once a month that I try and cram all my girlie shit into an hour or two. File down my freaking talons…my fingernails are like cement weeds, they are thick as hell and grow super long, fast. My sister got the killer laugh and amazing hair…I got the fingernails and ample rack, sigh…so not fair. I toss a coat of quick drying polish on them, piss and moan that my keyboard, “feels funny now” and then move on to the most hated maintenance day event…dying my hair.

I think coloring your hair is much like addiction, had you known going in that first time that it would be something that you have to feed even though you now hate it, well you never would have tried it in the first place. I thought it might be kinda hot to be that blonde that is just this side of platinum, no warm honey blonde for me. Nope had to go uber blonde and now I’m stuck with a goddamn root monkey on my back…dammit. Now when you are like a trained sniffer, one of those people that has a highly sensitive sense of smell, well maintenance day is a full on assault. I sit here in my living room, my now stiff and unpleasantly aromatic hair piled atop my head and glare at the microwave clock…”Fuck, it’s only been seven minutes?!” it’s wretched and the best part? This lovely chemical stank is shampoo resistant, get to relive the nose assault for a couple days…awesome.

Stinky nail junk, stinky hair junk, the smell of lotion, (which I needed after my get-this-crap-off-my-head shower) and I just knew it was not a wine night. Poured myself a tall glass of tonic with a splash of gin…trying to take it easier, and hunkered down in front of my laptop. I checked my regular blogs, made some adjustments to The Wine Country’s online store and settled on stalking Facebook. I was less than pleasant, offensively aromatic and wishing I had put more gin in my drink. Comment, scroll down, comment and that was when I saw it. A buddy, (I separate my Facebook people into two groups, friends & buddies, the later being people I actually know and talk to on a regular basis on Facebook or otherwise) had posted a picture of the meal he was eating, Boudin Noir.

Just looking at that glistening, darkly colored tube of pork bits, fat and blood, (shudder) and spices and I was transported to a tiny café in Paris. It was seven years ago and my first night of my first trip to France. I was with relative strangers, sleep deprived, had been crying in my room before dinner; feeling out of place, being away from my family, terrified of what the next twenty-five days was to hold. I was melancholy as we rushed through the Metro doors, Michael Sullivan barking at me to keep up, my fellow travelers appearing so much more…prepared, together, grown up. Part of me was aching to get left behind, preferring to sit alone in my hotel room than be the-one-that-didn’t-belong that was likely going to make an ass out of herself at a dinner table in Paris. I found a sliver of peace when we were seated in the low lit back corner of the bistro. Still feeling more alone and afraid than I had ever felt before but comforted by the soft lighting, the warm orange glow of lights reflecting off the restaurants copper light fixtures, the lulling hum of people enjoying a meal and each other.

Such a wildly different dining experience that first night in that tiny bistro, a world away from any life I had even thought of before. There was a palpable intensity to the diners a civility, a romantic rhythm to their conversation and appreciation of a meal prepared for them and shared between them…this is what stole my heart and attention.

My head was spun, my heart captivated, I was longing to melt into those dusky walls…be a part of every meal shared in that space…warm orange glow, gentle hum, the smell of freshly prepared food, herbs, freshly cut flowers, wine kissed mustard, decades of cigarette smoke, wine and Pastis dripping from the walls and straight into my veins. How could I have existed before I knew of this place?

“Sam try this” the sound of my own name pulling me back to the table, our table the reality staring me in the face and holding out a forkful of black sausage. I took the fork from Michael’s hand unsure if I was to deposit the oddly colored hot dog on my plate or be so bold as to put my mouth on his fork….I made the deposit. I so wanted to be cool, act as if I were not at all perplexed by the weird color and mealy texture of thing that I was being asked to ingest. Not wanting to be one of “those people” I speared the piece of offered food with my fork and brought it to my lips, the smell of iron and spices wafted through my nose and tried to prepare my palate for what I was about to taste…it failed, there was no way in hell I was prepared for the gawd awful flavor and texture of Boudin Noir.

Not sure if it was my eyes watering or the over exaggerated puffing out of my cheeks, (you know when you are trying to hold your breath and chew without having the flavor of whatever it is you are trying to force down actually touch your tongue) that started Michael’s laughter. “So what do you think?” he asked through his trying-not-to-laugh laughing. Now there were two ways to go here, I could have kept trying to be cool….pretend that it was fine or worse that I liked it but my fear of being handed another slice had me going with option number two. I swallowed the chewed-enough-not-to-choke, food and answered, “Yeah, that was pretty fucking gross…might just be the single nastiest thing I have ever put in my mouth” I said while reaching for my glass and taking a long mouth cleansing glug of Chablis. That was the beginning, me sitting across from a Michael I had just made laugh, a scene I would see hundreds of times again. Boudin Noir, a taste of things to come.

Always amazes me how the mind works, how we remember not only taste and texture but how those things can be and should be connected to something bigger, more important…a shared evening, a laugh, a night of self indulgence. Food and wine, the taste memory of both acting as snapshots, moments in time captured on the tip of your tongue. These are the things that matter, the things that can never be reduced down to a shelf talker or numerical score. What number should I give my Boudin Noir? On taste alone it would score very low but that moment, the friendship that began that night…immeasurable.

Jean Milan Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc, the lip of the glass being titled against my collarbone…cold Champagne running down my bare skin….a mouth waiting to capture the, “Sam seasoned” drops.

Agrapart Rose, six of my favorite people…big loud room, roasted duck, Amy excitedly picking away at beef noodles, shrimp dumplings and pork, “donuts”…Merritt’s birthday and Amy’s first dim sum.

Alliet Chinon, pan seared steak, salty batch of white beans with sage….a rare night alone and a meal prepared just for me.

Gosset Brut Rose, seafood tower…lemons and creamy dill flecked mayonnaise…three women…an order of fries…lots of giggles and a second bottle.

Tempier Bandol Rose, Randy and Dale’s backyard… aioli and grilled lamb....the whole Wine Country team….my son tasting with us….his proclamation that this “Is my favorite”.

I’m not trying to rage against the machine here, I’ve long since given up on fighting the point system of wine evaluation. It’s here to stay and I get that there are some folks that find it useful, my only hope is that people see it for what it is. I mean unless you are tasting that bottle in a lineup of others like it, sipping, spitting and jotting notes before moving on, then your experience is likely to be very different and it should be. Your meal, the rhythm of your own conversation, your moment, your “picture” of an evening or an afternoon spent with a bottle of wine, these things are worth far more than any score…..

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Speaking Another Language....

The language of wine is such a fascinating and richly accented thing to watch and listen to. Each dialect a little different, each regional preference lending its drawl, its inflection its belief that theirs is the proper or correct accent. So many varying voices, so many angles each dialect sweetly attached, fiercely protective and lovingly argumentative…sometimes not so lovingly and willing to take little nips out of the ankles of those who dare question of disagree with their findings.

You have the technical camp, these folks are very precise. They can spend hours reading and talking about vine age, slope exposure, brix, drainage, punch downs, lees, Phenolic ripeness, levels of sweetness, (not the perceived…actual) I could go on but seeing as I am not of this group…I don’t exactly have my drawl down.

You have the wine and food camp, these people are equally as dorky, (I can say that as I am half this camp). They can wax rhapsodic for eons about texture, acidity, oak interference, heat and Riesling.

You have the wine as seduction camp, these folks tend to be wordy and sensual…or just horny, (I can say that too as this is my other half). They groan more than actually talk but when they do talk there is lots of, “mouth feel” and “length”…that and they touch the bottles a lot. Like I said, they might just be horny.

You have the don’t give two shits I just wanna drink wine camp, these cats look at the others with suspicious brows and rolling eyes. They either don’t care or can’t tell and they are fine with that. They have no interest in hearing that Oakville Cabernet might not taste that great with their oyster platter, they like both and are going to have them. These people have the rare ability to cause those other camp’s heads to implode.

“Can I help you find anything” I asked the young couple wandering aimlessly around my French department. “Um, yes we are looking for this brand” this soft spoken gentleman told me while handing me a torn scrap of paper. I looked at the neatly folded scrap and read, “Vieille Vignes” I took a deep breath and treaded carefully. This is one of those tricky situations for a retailer, don’t wish to sound condescending or teachery but…I knew I was going to have some explaining to do and you just never know how that is going to be received. The couple in question was fine with hearing that they were asking for a wine made from old vines, not a brand. “We heard they were better so that’s what we want”…more explaining on my part. I walked around the department pointing to various wines that were produced from old vines, told them a little about each and then asked the question, “So, what’s this for?” They then told me it was for a birthday dinner for one of their fathers, they wanted to serve the best wine. Well okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

“What kind of food are you having?” I asked, “Chinese” they responded…this was when my wine and food camp brain started feeling the pressure of my skull tightening. “So you want and old vine French wine for Chinese food. Let’s narrow it down a bit, what kind of Chinese food?” I pushed further. “Mostly fish and vegetables” they chimed…tightening. I went to Alsace, showed them a few Pinot Blancs and Rieslings, (see told you) and then moved on to Rhone. I showed them some Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and that was when I got, “Isn’t red wine better? We really want the best”…sigh, tight melon, sigh. “Well, the best for what? The best for the meal or the best as in scores…not quite sure what you mean by the best” I responded. “Just the best” the super cute girl said with a giggle. I just wanted these people to be happy so we spent some time, (after some conversation about the fact that white might really be better for the meal) in Bordeaux, Burgundy and back to Rhone.

I was pointing out wines, going over flavor profiles and that was when I was hit with the final blow, “Oh it needs to be from an odd year”… “I’m sorry?” I enquired. “The wine needs to come from an odd year; 2003, 2005, 2007 something like that” I swear I was looking for Alan Funt as I mopped my grey matter off the floor.

“Nope, none of these work” was my response this afternoon while sitting in on a panel of people picking dishes and wines for a charity function. The salad was comprised of watermelon, Heirloom tomatoes, (food dork was going nuts…these are both out of season. Was thrilled to hear the event was not until summer when they would be) feta cheese, pistachios, balsamic reduction and orange vinaigrette. We went from wine to wine and finally I had to say it, “This dish doesn’t need wine. The fruit is already here…these flavors…all of them, while fine together are not at all welcoming to wine”…I don’t remember taking a poo on the floor but I might as well have.

“This event is about pairing wine and food. We need to have a wine there” I was reminded. “Well how about we pick another salad?” I said wearing my biggest, shiniest how-can-I-spin- this face. I finally broke down and told them that with some dishes there is never going to be a perfect pairing, may not even be a passable pairing. This salad was just such a dish, in fact there may be some kind of cocktail that would sing with this but wine, not so much. “Unless you are trying to teach this group what not to pair with wine I would stay away from this dish” I said it and we moved on. Yummy salad, refreshing and what not, (I will say I thought the balsamic was out of place…seemed like eyeliner on the Mona Lisa) but it just didn’t belong at a wine and food pairing event unless, like I said, it was an example of what not to do.

Driving home from that exercise in palate and tummy fatigue I got myself spun into this conversation…yes, with myself, about language. Wine language, food language and what it is we are trying to say and do. In the two situations I’m talking about here we had people trying to force a wine into a place or idea….not ideal if we want more people to drink wine. Telling anyone that an old vine Bordeaux from 2003 is, “the best” for a Chinese meal of fish and veggies or forcing some poor wine on watermelon and balsamic salad at a wine and food pairing event just makes the whole thing look, and taste like bullshit.

Do we need to be tight-assed and restrictive? Fuck no but we should be willing to toss in the wine towel once in awhile. Wine is NOT always the answer, not always appropriate and frankly in some situations it’s just not right. Look, we have so many diverse cultures adding to our food experience now…Thai tacos, Miso broth with Brie noodles, our melting pot has brought us some truly amazing food. We have chefs fusing all kinds of foods and flavors…it’s fun, it’s often delicious but just because the food sounds, “fancy” doesn’t mean we need to have wine.

I am all about breaking rules, hell I break em’ all the time….I said poo on the floor in a wine post and ask people about their peeing experiences. I’m not bound or married to crusty old ideas about proper pairings, I have been known to drink Sancerre with grilled rib-eyes, (okay I might be feeling the need to defend myself but I always say, “Serve Sancerre with anything you might squeeze lemon on”…I like lemon squeezed on my steak) but just as one might turn up their nose at drinking Cactus Cooler with Coq au Vin, we should also be willing to sneer at any menu that pairs; Chinese five spice rubbed short ribs in Zinfandel and coffee reduction served over Pernod braided fennel with edamame with Russian River Pinot Noir.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Think I Am Just Gonna Have To Do It

It was with me on my drive home from work last night. My stomach had been a little upset all day, not horrible just a little off, I slammed a little Marvin Gaye in the CD player….something soothing, comforting, distracting. I turned my little red car onto Westminster Blvd, “Make me wanna holler” creeping its way up my back and delivering some much needed relief to my way too tight shoulders…damn, just something about Marvin. I was letting my thoughts of work slip safely into the back of my mind as Marvin’s soulful voice carried forward what was next, “What should I make for dinner?”

Ran down the list of requirements while my head swayed back and forth in time with the music, “Not too complicated. Not too rich. Something that won’t further upset my touchy tummy” this was when it popped into my head for the second time of the day…. "I would love a little digestif” I happen to be a great lover of digestif, hell I even make my own when I am lucky enough to get my hands on large bunches of aromatics herbs. Last year Randy’s wife Dale brought me giant sacks of herbs from her garden…Lemon Thyme, Lavender, Tarragon, Basil….I had mason jars full of luscious herbal delights in varying shades of green taking up all the room in my freezer. I would sip them alone or fill a tall glass with crushed ice and add equal parts digestif and tonic water, drank those all summer long….dig em.

“So did you ever get in that Amaro you were talking about a couple weeks ago?” it was Kate my Kermit Lynch rep looking at our booze department yesterday afternoon. When she had come in for her appointment a couple of weeks ago she stumbled upon a very lit up, very chatty, extremely spun group of wine professionals. We had just tasted something so unusual, so stunning, so fucking alluring that we could not stop talking about it….well, I couldn’t anyway. I had been involved in my own little tasting when Randy approached me with a glass in his hand, “Sam, you have got to smell this” I took the glass, gave it a spin and was guessing by the oily way the wine slipped up the sides of the glass that it was some sort of dessert wine, usually not my favorite. I held the base of the glass between my fingers and brought it to my nose, “Holy shit. What is that?!”…

“Varja Barolo Chinato” a voice from the other tasting table announced, I turned my head to see that the guy that brought it in was wearing the shit eating grin of someone that knew they had something truly remarkable. I tore myself away from the nose…killed me, I literally could have just kept the glass by my side picking it up, spinning it and spending hours in its beguiling, intoxicating aromatics. Just thinking about it now is giving me that, “Ahhhh” feeling, you know, like when you slip into a warm tub. When I finally took the thick liquid into my mouth a blast of sweetness met the very tip of my tongue followed by an intense floral and spice flavor and then it came…that balancing bitter thing that seems to fill your mouth and gently lay over that syrupy sweetness….damn.

“Oh God, we have to bring this in” I said in an almost pleading tone. Randy asked the price and gave me a slightly painful shake of his head, I was crushed. Experience has taught Randy that there are certain things that no matter how much we yammer about them, no matter how many lines we dedicate to them in the newsletter and no matter how enthusiastically we talk about them, that people are just not comfortable spending their hard earned cash on. A $65.00 Amaro, (bitter digestif) made from Barolo is probably the definition of such a thing. I’m sure Randy could just see us red tagging this thing that we all flipped out tops for after they languished on the shelf for a year in a half. I could tell he was pained as he told us all, “I just don’t think we can sell it. It’s amazing but I’m not sure there are enough people willing to drop $65.00 on a curiosity” He was right of course but as I took my last sip of the liquid that would haunt me for weeks the rep leaned in and said, “Hey Sam, just so you know….we sell that by the bottle, you wouldn’t have to buy a case”…wise man.

I tried to put the stuff out of mind the way you do a lover that you know you can never touch again. It was lovely but way too painful to keep thinking about something that you will never be able to attain. I had just gotten to where I was only allowing myself one tiny little lustful thought a day and then goddamn Kate comes in asking for it…damn you woman. That was it for me, I looked her in the eye and told her, I’m going to order myself one, I just can’t take this anymore. She let a grin spread across her face and she said, “Order me one too. I have not been able to get that stuff out of my mind since you told me about it” As I jotted myself a little note to get a hold of the importer that brings it in I heard Ronnie, who had been listening in on Kate and I say, “Order me one too”

So in a couple weeks your girl here will be indulging her lustful want, letting my palate be washed away with sweetness, Anise, clove, rose petals, orange rind, coriander and ginger…letting her nostrils flare, take in some of the most shiver inducing, haunting aromas she has encountered in a very….very long time. Having that sexy as hell bitter flavor wrap around the sides on my tongue…letting a $65.00 digestif made from Nebbiolo, grown in Barolo, macerated for thirty days with herbs and spices, a wildly enticing, “curiosity” be that lover that I do in fact get to touch again. Cannot wait.

Available by special order only so if you are in fact "curious" either email, post a comment of give me a call at The Wine Country (562) 597-8303

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Useful Critique

So I have been quite lucky when it comes to emails, sure there have been a couple pervy ones…kind of have to expect that when you write stuff about, “Self Pleasurevation” and what not, but for the most part, lucky. I get very little by way of spam and even the press releases I am sent are few and far between. Not sure if it because I am off the radar when it comes to actual wine blogging or what, but my blog email is so light I only have to check it once a week or so. More often than not there will be one or two press releases, an advertizing request or two, (um, about that…if you are a retail store please stop asking me to advertize your store on my blog. I work at The Wine Country, a beautiful wine store and one that has all my loyalty. Not going to link your store to my site…like ever) and if I am lucky a letter from someone that likes reading.

I’ve never had to delete comments, well I got a spam or two, (damn you cigar spammers) but even when someone calls me out, calls me a snob or whatever….I leave the comment, just as I believe I should be able to say it as I see it, so too should the people that read and comment here. For the most part, I have been astoundingly lucky in my comments section. The people that visit me here, read my silly bullshit, they are all so warm, sweet and remarkably kind to me. I am constantly floored by the adoration I receive here, often brought to tears by the understanding and support of my readers and often blushing like a twelve year old girl when I am flirted with, (Ron…Sir Charles, you two make me giggle like a schoolgirl) or gushed over. When I think about the fact that I have been doing this for about two years and the number of negative comments or emails I have gotten are like, um…let me think, around four, well like I said, very lucky.

Sure it was easier to avoid the snarky or snide comments of others in the beginning, fuck…no one was reading so why the hell should I expect to hear a peep, but now that my readership has grown a bit I guess what I found in my inbox this morning was bound to happen. Such a roller coaster day today, nasty mean hate mail, amazing…appreciative, “Your voice is important” email and then a talk that would shake me so deeply, the kind that makes you question your worth…your importance and why you and your family have given years to a cause, hours upon hours of your time. The kind of talk that has the potential to change, not destroy but change, a relationship that you thought you knew but are now beginning to think you misunderstood. Like I said, freaking roller coaster.

I think that first email of the day just set me off. I confess that I deleted it before I had a chance to respond, just know myself too well…know I would have found myself splashing around in the mud with this vile person. Slinging shit and calling names and I have to say, hated that shit in high school, part of the reason I got the fudge, (that was for you Thomas) outta there in the first place. And I just refuse to get spun up into some cat fight with some woman that I don’t even know. So of course the next thing I thought of was publishing the letter…fishing through my deleted emails, posting her bile and…ahem, the name of her blog, (just sayin) but then I just thought I would be giving her exactly what she wanted, you know…aside from like pissing me off and stuff….the page hits she so desperately seeks.

I mean why come after me? Why now? Look I will be the first to admit that I am a lot of things, some good and some bad but one thing I am proud of being, I’m fair. I give everyone a voice here, (which makes me wonder why she didn’t attack in my comments…) and I value each and every opinion, if I agree or not. The only thing I can think of is she is scared shitless of the rather verbose, extremely articulate and fiercely intellectual folks that post here taking her to task in my defense, or at the very least putting her on the “Vile Bitch List” and never visiting her site. So this just got me thinking about what is in fact fair….

Is it fair to spew venom all over another person, a person that is rambling away in cyber space…kind of minding their own business in a space that you have to choose to visit?! If you loathe what they are doing there is a rather easy solution, stay the hell away. That shit reminds me of those liberals that listen to Rush Limbaugh and get themselves all frothy…um, suggestion, turn it off. I’ve never understood being pissed off for the sake of being pissed off…dude, there is way more important stuff to handle, put your piss and vinegar to work. I kind of look to The HoseMaster of Wine here, now this is a voice that does in fact go after people but it is not for evil…it’s for funny. It’s brilliantly written and the sword is deafly plunged into the chest of the deserving, (and let’s be honest…all bloggers are kinda deserving. I’m just waiting for the day that I am splayed over there) and while the first penetration of the sword might sting, there is always a falling-on-his-own over there. A balance that most of us could never pull off and the kind of balance this woman had no interest in.

So okay Lady That Reads but Hates Reading, you hurt me. I was actually shaking with rage and embarrassment this morning when I read your email…feel better? If that was what you set out to do than bravo, your work here is done. Now if what you set out to do was change me…far better than you have tried…they failed too. You did stay with me all day, I read and re-read your words over and over in my head. Questioned why someone would take the time, go out of their way to rake someone over the coals as you did with me…the only thing I could think of is you wanted some answers. So in the spirit of my latest fun thing, my interviews…I thought I would address some of your issues and give you some answers. Now I am paraphrasing here, there were a couple things that I jotted down before I deleted your scathing assault, so here ya go…

Mean Lady- So I know Tom Wark must be furious with you for making a mockery of his bloggerviews.

Me- If so he hasn’t mentioned it to me. I consider Tom a dear friend and if I was in fact pissing him off, or making a mockery of something…pretty sure he would have told me to knock it the hell off. Matter of fact I ran the idea by Tom and seeing as the first of my hard hitting interviews was Tom and he took it like a champ I think he is fine with it.

Mean Lady- You clearly drink too much and I think that you are spitting in the face of people that have a real problem with alcohol.

Me- Yup, from time to time I do imbibe a bit too much and I have no problem sharing that. Thing is…I don’t drink when I am not supposed to, I show up for work on time. Not sure that is spitting in the face of others that might have a problem but I think NOT talking about it is a larger pile of saliva. I personally feel that those that act like they never drink more than one glass a night but in fact suck back a bottle are doing a bigger disservice.

Mean Lady- I am so tired of reading your woe is me posts. If you had a rough upbringing so what? What have you done to change it? Some of us that managed through an Ivy League education are able to put our best foot forward. We have moved on and don’t bemoan the fact that growing up was tough, did you expect everyone to feel sorry for you?

Me- are so missing the point. I never, not ever want people to feel sorry for me. In fact if that were true I might do just as you wish and hang it all up. I did not go to college, sorry that I did not have to suffer through that for you to understand me but…I feel that I have, with the help of a lot of very strong, very cool people, put my best foot forward. If you are getting something other than that from what you read here, well for that I am truly sorry….for both of us.

Mean Lady- I think your using of your supposed sexuality ergo; taking pictures of your feet and of you removing your shirt is really disgusting and reduces those of us with actual wine knowledge and intellect to nothing but tits and ass.

Me- Is Gloria Allred like your mom or something?! I think you might need another glass of wine, it might just melt the ice rod that is crammed up your ass and seems to be freezing your girlie bits, (okay this is why I did not write her directly). Okay so I have a couple issues with this comment. One is the use of, “supposed sexuality”…um, are we all not possessing sexuality…frozen bits not withstanding? I’m thinking she was implying something about the fact that I post some…rather sensual, (got that Mean Lady, sensual not sexual) somewhat suggestive stuff, and yes, yes I do. If you cannot feel the way wine can seduce you…slips beneath your skin and slithers up your neck, well you are seriously missing out. Might I suggest a Musigny enema to get your party started? I actually feel sorry for you now….sorry for the poor wine that must pass your less than willing lips, tries to penetrate your icy, “educated” soul. I’m not sure who knows more, could not care less actually, but I have a pretty good idea who feels more….

Last points…

I never see feet as sexual
, if you do than good on you and I have a feeling what your husband/wife is into. Thanks for sharing…and my wine shit is inappropriate?

I think that any woman that goes after another woman the way you did, well it tells me so much about the person you are.

Just guessing here but I think you will hate my next series, “What wine looks best between my breasts?” I urge you…stop reading now.

Anyone that insists on telling you that they went to an Ivy League college is feeling like they made a colossal mistake. If you HAVE to tell us, than yeah…you probably did.

I’m sorry….I’m sorry if anything your read here offends you. That is never my intention but I have no interest in changing. I respect women, fuck I am a woman that demands it, how could I not give it? That being said, I think that protecting the fragility of the female, that dainty creature written about by crusty old dudes and protected by the religious right and truly oppressive, that is a profoundly dangerous mistake that I am not willing to make.

I say what I want

I drink when and where I want

I seduce how I wish

I embrace my power

Just wondering….

Why you fear yours?

Thanks for the input and the post….good luck to you

I actually mean that


Wanted Sex Goddess, (I so stole that from Bridget Jones)

Gum Flapper

Wine Slinger


Monday, February 15, 2010

Wine Biz Interview Number 5 With Michael Sullivan Of Beaune Imports

Anyone that has been reading this blog for any length of time is by now very familiar with the names Beaune Imports and Michael Sullivan. Beaune Imports is my favorite importer, the first company to take me to my now beloved France and its founder Michael Sullivan is one of the people in my life that I most adore. He was instrumental in helping me find this, “voice” that seems to speak to all fourteen, (or was it sixteen now?) of you. I love Michael’s palate, think he is more than fair, (kinda way too…just sayin) with pricing of his wines and his words of praise and support have done more for me personally than he can ever know. When I started this whole interview deal he was one of the first people I thought of and one of the first to agree to do it. So here he is, me amigo, the man that changed my life in more ways than one. French wine importer Michael Sullivan of Beaune Imports...

How many years ago did you start, my most favorite import company…like ever, Beaune Imports?

We came up with the crazy idea in 1990. The first container arrived in the spring of 1991.

What inspired you to start importing?

A number of things…
1) My wife Sylvie and I were both passionate about Burgundy, considering she was from Beaune and we had lived there together for a little over a year. Upon returning broke to the states in 1989 we realized that we could no longer drink the wines that we had grown accustomed to.
2) Knowing that we were friends with some very cool winemakers.
3) Somehow thinking that we would be qualified to select other wines that might interest people in CA.
4) Making a few phone calls to shippers, customs people and the Feds to figure out that, based upon what other importers were charging for their wines, that we would have a running shot at making it work, through the accumulation of sweat equity, by working harder and doing all of the work ourselves.
5) Not listening to the nay-sayers who told us that it would never work…
6) The love of the French culture and the desire to figure out a way to spend our time in both countries.

If you had to import California wines into France, Jess Jackson or E&J Gallo?

Made even more complicated now that Gina Gallo is married to Jean-Charles Boisset…hmm. Probably would tip towards Gallo based on an adolescent period spent with their wine-coolers.

What is the single hardest part about your gig?

Managing cash flow. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to be so complicated.

Boxers or Briefs?

I prefer lay-down cases to stand-ups any day. They’re better for aging wine.

If you suddenly became allergic to French wine…what would you drink?

German Wine

Who is your favorite buyer that wears pants?

Assuming that the question means buyer of wine for a retailer or restaurant, it would have to be the French buyer at a little known shop in Signal Hill. Samantha Dugan, know her?

You are aware that socks and sandals is so not cool right?

I have heard rumors to that effect, though I tend to not listen to others when deciding whether something is “cool” or not.

How, if at all, has the French wine peddling business changed it the past ten years?

It has changed considerably in the US as large retailers have become more and more powerful due to the gray market. Fine wine has become a commodity for many, and this has changed the landscape. That being said, it keeps us honest, which is probably a good thing.

Have you ever sneezed while peeing?

Funny you should ask. Answer is yes.

You used to work at Chez Panisse right? Dinner party guest, Alice Waters or John Waters?

That’s a tough one because as you know Chez Panisse, and Alice are about as close to family as one can get considering I grew up there. That being said, and I’m assuming that you mean the film maker, I think that Alice would agree with my decision to choose John Waters for this one meal.

Finish this sentence, “The wines that thrill me are"

all under 14% alcohol and all come from soils that contain either slate, flint or limestone

Are there any wines in your portfolio that you don’t really enjoy drinking?

I’m having a hard time with Southern Rhône wines these days.

Are you afraid I will ask you which ones?


Hangover cure of choice?

A 50 mile bike ride.

Would you rather drink a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet or eat three tablespoons of bottled mayonnaise?

You got me there, though it’s easy. I’ll take the Cab.

Airplane reading: The Star or Blogs?

The New Yorker.

Are there any estates that you have been courting and are dying to get your hands on?


Are you afraid I am going to ask you which ones?

You can ask all you like…

Vacation: Ethiopia or Long Beach?


Your trips are becoming the stuff of legends, (okay I might have made that up but…) what are the best and hardest parts about doing those?

The best parts are: driving around the most beautiful parts of France, meeting with interesting people (some of which are my best friends), occasionally eating well, going for a good run in the vineyards of an area that I don’t know, learning something new along the way, which happens almost daily. Oh, and then there’s the wine…
The hardest parts in no particular order: are tasting red burgundies before malo, freezing my butt off hour after hour in some very cold cellars, getting sick in the middle of a trip, watching my travel companions hit the wall after I warned them not to eat so much cheese and dessert early in the trip, not getting a run in on a given day when I thought that I had it all planned…

Best story about one of the people you took on your trip? You may leave their name out, if it about me please do….

Southern Rhône valley, spring of 1999. I believe that we had been tasting the ’98 vintage, so we’re talking fairly high alcohol wines, and one of the guys with me was an intransigent non-spitter. Needless to say, when we got to the hotel at around 6pm, he was well past his prime. After giving the dinner meeting time of 8pm, we all proceeded on to our rooms. It being dark out, more than one of us dosed off, but we all made it downstairs for the meeting time except the swallower. Not waiting around for long, I called his room from the reception and informed him that it was 8:00 and that we were out of there in 5 minutes. In less than 5 minutes, he was downstairs with his suitcase ready to check out… The look on the receptionist’s face when she realized what was happening was classic. Needless to say, the other four of us were on the floor in uncontrollable hysterics, literally, for 15 minutes.

How much time do you spend looking for new estates to import and how is it that you hear of them?

At this point, most of my prospecting happens through contacts via other producers, rumors or having had a wine in a restaurant in France or Spain. It’s not something that I spend a lot of time on as I’m trying to sell the wines that we already import more effectively.

Since I broke yer bawls about it, have you ever told another woman that it looks like she is wearing pajamas?

Nope, that was the first and last time.

When I told you that I had tattooed Beaune Imports on my body were you horrified or flattered?

Very flattered. Hell, I’m still very flattered when someone tells me that they look for our name on the back of a bottle. To have our name on your backside, now that’s something special

I know you are a very responsible and self regulating guy, (Yes, I am keeping a straight face) but have you ever been shitfaced with one of your buyers?

I see that the façade has worked on you as well. As you know too well, I most definitely have.

Hey, do you remember feeding shots to poor Bruno from Domaine Roland Schmitt?! Me either…

I do remember though I didn’t think that it was a good idea at the time. In this case, I turned out to be right as he had to bail on the next day’s activities.

You are charged with unleashing this, “Sans Dosage” beast loose on the unsuspecting wine world, through your gentle chiding, respect and mentoring…how do you plea?

I’m guilty of being an accomplice and I believe that there were others involved in this one. I for one am very proud of my actions in this crime…well most of them.

If I were to tell you that you that you have been one of the most influential, inspiring…sometimes frustrating, (dude, you are a tough nut to crack!) generous and supportive people I have ever met, would you share a bottle of Irish whisky with me?


I would like to thank Michael for granting me this interview, just so you all know….Michael is a very private person and one of those dear friends that is on my ass about sharing too much in this space. The fact that he agreed to do this, was willing to let people see a bit of what I am lucky enough to see all the time, well…it means a lot. His voice is always in my head, his words of support always in my heart and his vision, or palate is sitting on my shoulder when I taste wines from anywhere. I would never be the person I am, the writer, (word used very loosely) I try to be or have that palate that I do without him….I would walk through fire for Michael and he knows it.

Thanks Mister….for everything.

Wreckin' Me

So I’m not sure how many of you have figured this out but I am not a terribly romantic person. I don’t plan or really respond to grand gestures of the romantic kind. It’s not that I don’t find the idea quite sweet, I do but….just not built that way I guess. So when planning what to do to celebrate National Love Day I just told the hubby, “No flowers, no gifts, let’s just have lunch at Tracy’s and get our toes did” needless to say, he was down for the idea. Even the getting our toes done together was not a gesture of spending time with each other as much as it was something that we both needed to get done…see, told you…not romantic.

We tossed back maybe one too many cocktails at lunch, him watching golf and me drunk texting back and forth with a few friends. We finished our very tasty bar food, (Tracy’s food is just damn good. Not refined in the least but delicious without a doubt) drained our last drink, the last drink that came after the, “This is the last one” and emerged from the belly of a windowless bar on an unusually hot Sunday afternoon. The sun beat down on my black shirt intensifying my buzz and assisting the gin in making me feel really sleepy. The massage chairs at the nail joint taking it even farther, I was in essence a puddle by the time we walked up to our screen door and that was when I saw it.

A red and white gift bag covered in tiny hearts, a gift from my little boyfriend across the way….dude, dude. I opened it to find…..


My very own Flo, (From the movie Cars) to play with on our dinner dates, a writing utensil and a heart shaped sucker….and I thought I was a puddle before? This kid man, he’s just wreckin’ me. Gin and tonics, fifty cent pork tacos, hearty sandwiches, feet plunged into hot water while a chair rocked my body and a grand gesture from my favorite tiny person….loved it and days like this may just change my idea about all that romance junk.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Love Affair With French Wines....

While dining out with reader and friend Jess this week I encountered something that happens to me all the time. We were eating at a Cuban place I had not been to in like five years, I remember thinking it was delicious, not fancy but not divey…um, a lot changed in five years. The food is still delicious, something about that charred chicken, (and they give you half of one) doused in that garlicky, citrusy sauce, covered in sliced white onions and that side of smashed up smoky black beans…wrecks me, I love it but, the place was a lot less, not divey than I remember. I snuck some wine in, had Jess stash one bottle in her purse as well and waited until we were seated before asking, “Um, what is your corkage policy”. So the guy that was giving us our paper napkins had no clue but he was willing to find us someone that did.

“I brought in some wine to share with my friend from out of town, is that okay?” I asked our new server, “Yes but we do charge either eight or ten dollars per bottle” the helpful gentleman sheepishly replied. “Um, that’s fine” I said trying to hide my, what a deal grin while Jess and I pulled our smuggled bottles out of our bags. “From California?” our server asked, “No French” I replied only to see what I have like a million times before….the pouted out mouth and raised eyebrows. What up with that?! Did I say they were fancy pants French wines? Just so happens they were but….

“Sam, come taste this” Randy calling from the tasting room once again. I felt my jaw go icy and my back stiffen with those rigid, “You can’t make me” spikes that I had been sporting since I started at The Wine Country. I made my way to the tasting room already pissed, I just knew he was going to challenge me. I was brought on at The Wine Country to handle the mailing list and deal with shipping. I had zero palate and even less interest in wine. I didn’t get it and didn’t want to….I was also getting my feathers ruffled by this man that kept insisting that I taste these wines that meant nothing to me.

I had tasted wine before and they all tasted like….wine to me. I could not pick out any flavors or aromas and honestly thought the whole thing was flat out trickery. Smoke and mirrors put forth by those looking to hustle, not something I was unfamiliar with in my former life but not something I was looking to be a part of again. I made my way to the tasting room and took the glass from Randy’s hand, he was grinning and I felt my guard get even thicker. I looked at Randy’s beaming face as he told me, “This is from Alsace” I spun the glass as I had seen it done before….felt like such a huckster, so full of shit as I spun the thickly textured wine in the glass. I brought it to my seriously furrowed brow, stuck my nose in it then brought it to my lips, after one taste all my doubts were spinning around me in little bubbles like those cartoon captions….”bullshit” “aromatics” “oak” “oily”…..everything I had heard and denounced as utter horseshit was now sitting on my palate and its fingers were slipping between my buttons and caressing my skin. I got it.

Alsace flipped my switch but it was actually California Chardonnay that helped my find words for my sensory perceptions…popcorn, butter and pineapple. It was like I had just learned to walk and now I ached to run. I spent every spare dollar discovering, researching, tasting. I had volumes of tasting notes, hours of lectures from the then boyfriend, (now hubby) about my dollars spent and hours lost to wine evaluation but it was too late, I was a goner and for me it was French wine that seemed to unzip all my raw and fierce passion.

“So I hear you’re going to France with me” it was Michael Sullivan on the other end of the line. “Um, not that I know of” was my stammering and heart pounding response. “Oh okay, may I speak to Randy” Michael recovered. “Sam can I see you in the back?”Randy over the loud speaker in the store. I made my way back to his office, Michael’s words sending spikes into my fearful spine with each step. I had made my way to Randy’s office like a million times before but this trip, this trip seemed like crossing the Sahara. You know those scenes in the movies where the protagonist is standing still and the whole world is rushing by at like a million miles an hour…yeah, that was my sixty paces walk to the boss’s office.

“Michael Sullivan just called” this I already knew and my crazy ass brain was bugged by the fact that Randy didn’t remember who had alerted him to the call…I was grasping at this point, trying to find anything I could to be annoyed about. “He has asked that I let you join him on his buying trip this year” Randy said as he leaned back in his chair, smug grinning face and fingers laced in a basket that the base of his head was resting on. Fear had already gripped me by this point, it had consumed me and was now about to speak for the crazy chick that was rendered damn near speechless. I felt my mouth open but was completely distracted by the uncontrollable twitch that had taken hold of my knees and was making them bounce like I had a jockey on them. “I can’t go to France Randy. I have a kid and a store to run” I blurted feeling the venom trickle down the sides of my mouth. Randy looked at me as if I had just delivered him a swift kick in the nuts…he had been bugging Michael for a solid year to take me on this trip. Bought extra wine, purred stories of fantastic meals and charming winemakers in my ears, probably emailed and called Michael relentlessly. Here I was….ungrateful, snide, bitter and once again crinkling my brow at a man that was simply trying to open me.

I tried no fewer than ten times to get out of the trip, I just knew I was not ready and it was a giant waste of both Randy’s money and Michael’s time….boarded the plane and felt my eyes well up, what the hell am I doing here? Sailed across to France and as I dumped my twenty five days worth of luggage in my way too tiny room I completely broke down…what am I doing here?! Met my travel mates in the lobby and rode the Metro to whatever spot it was that we were having dinner in Paris, ahem…in Paris people…wine that I didn’t know, people that I didn’t know and a mouthful of blood sausage that Michael made me eat and I was a wreck.

Slept all of two hours that first night. Sat on the edge of my tiny bed watching the clock…just waiting until eight, our scheduled meeting time for breakfast. I sat there watching one travel mate act as if he didn’t know I was breathing, (that would be Sullivan) and the other slurping damn near raw eggs that I could not eat after trying to work the boiling machine. I shoved my bags into the van thinking that there was no way I was going to make it through the whole trip. So, something happened…France happened and once its flavors were injected into my somewhat reluctant body I was done with.

It was not just the place, the smoky smells, the ancient streets…it was the wines that spun me. The Loire with its steely, vibrant, racy flavors. Burgundy with its deep, hauntingly sexy aromatics and the way the wines seemed to seduce…the way the wines stained not only my palate but left me swollen with want and a profound desire for more. Rhone and its range from wild to reserved, spicy red fruit in the south, dark alluring black fruit in the north. The way the whites with their peachy, white flower packed flavors seemed to shock our purple stained palates back to life. By the time we had made our trek throughout the country I was drunk, spellbound and in tears once again…this time not quite ready to come home.

That first day back in the shop, back from the trip that would forever change me….I just walked around the French department. I let my fingertips touch bottles, remember faces, meals, laughs, tears….each brush of my fingers bringing to life a moment, a flavor and a reminder that this is where my heart and lust lives…in France. I taste and love many other wines but my first love, the love that made me continue, pushed me forward in this crazy business were those from France and they will forever be the wines that I love, want…ache for. Will be the wines that all others must live up to.

Does that make them fancy? Hell no, more often than not the wines that I am drinking from by beloved little country are value wines. Those in the ten to twenty dollar range…no eyebrows and pouty, “fancy” mouth. Wines that were meant to enhance a meal, vibrate the palate and give us just the sweetest little kiss of balance….fuck I love that. Ache for that and seek that in every sniff, taste and swallow.

I’ve never quite understood why people give me the snooty nose when I mention that I am a French wine buyer, French wine lover…where does that come from? Is there some kind of inferiority deal happening? Some idea that French wines are more expensive, (um, dude…I can attest to the fact that they are not) or more snoot worthy…better? I know I have never once in my jillion year career implied anything like that. I like them better but that in no way implies that they are better wines. They just work me, make my hairs vibrate, make my mouth water and have this knack for reaching deep into my heart and stirring up my memory and the only thing I have to give them in return is to show others. Put those bottles in the hands of those that have yet to make their voyage, that are open to having that snap zing across their palate.

Is it easy? Not in the least, I just spent thirty minutes on a woman that after my whole, bubblin French deal told me, "I would rather spend my dollars here in the US"...did not even flinch when I told her that the importer in question was born and raised in California....

Did what I could...sigh

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wine Biz Interview Number Four, "Married To It" With Carl Anderson

So while hashing out my, “Hard hitting” questions I thought it might be fun to spend a bit of time talking to those that suffer most. The ones that end up having to drive, (or pick up in my case) and sit through hours of yammering about wine, texture, length…poor folks. Those that are, “All up in the business” even though they never chose or asked for it…the poor people that, by the luck of the draw, are all up in the Kool Aid.

I picked someone at random, just the first person I could think of that happened to be within my web, my super connected inner circle. It was tough getting this interview…cannot tell you what vile things I had to agree to, but I am here to deliver the news people. Anything I must endure for this, I did it for you…..sigh.

How many years have you been married to a person in the wine biz?

It has been almost 5 whole years since we walked down the aisle towards a real skinny Elvis. Man, that was awesome. 30 minutes, in and out. Gotta love Vegas!!! Of course, that was AFTER an 11 year trial period.

Least favorite part about having a wine wife?

Keeping those empty bottles around that you are going to write about, and yet somehow they still are there!!! Oh, and when you close during the holidays, since I can’t think of what I want to eat for dinner.

Favorite part?

It makes me feel better about me spending most of my free time on the range and course. Oh, and those times where I do enjoy a glass of those wines that you don’t “want” to share with me.
Oh yeah, and those multi-week trips you sometimes go on. It gives me the time to perform those upgrades we so desperately need. Michael, Kermit, you listening? I really want… err, need a new TV and speakers. I mean, I miss you and all, but it is much easier to sneak in a TV you won’t notice if you are in another continent.

How come you put your wet towel on my side of the bed…(just sayin)?

You are aware that your side of the bed is closer to the shower than my side, right? I mean, sometimes I am in a rush when I get dressed, so I just toss the towel on the bed. It is SOOOO much easier than taking those 7 steps back into the bathroom.

Have you ever sneezed while peeing?

I honestly don’t remember if I have. If so, I am sure I pressed my wiener hard in between my thumb and index finger.

Are you into wine?

No, I am more of a cocktail guy. I fear that if I get into wine, I will prefer those hard to find $200 bottles.

Do you ever tire of hearing about wine?

Do I tire about hearing about wine? Absolutely not.

How often do you read your wife’s blog and wine articles?

In all honesty, I rarely visit. Why? No reason other than that the interwebs scare me.

Is your wife really “Sans Dosage”?

Yes, since there was nothing added to make you sweet!!! That is all natural baby!!!

Single best wine your wife has ever shared with you?

What was that wine we had when we were at craft Los Angeles the 1st time? How come we don’t’ have one again?

Do you think your wife is obsessive about wine?

No, I mean just because I am a wine widower doesn’t mean that you are obsessive.

How do you feel about your wife’s blog?

Blog? Is that what this is for? Sometimes it gets a little time consuming, but hey, if you didn’t work on Saturday’s you still wouldn’t see me. It also makes you a much more confident person, especially as the writing improves, so I am all for it. Now if I could convince you to discreetly add some advertisements!!

Do you ever get jealous of the attention your wife gets?

Not really. I enjoy it actually, since I know you are coming home with me. Remember the Prospector? Yep, I puffed my chest out (in a SHE’S MINE manner)!!!!

Whose gravy is better, your mother’s or mine?

I don’t know if this is an entirely fair question. There are times when I do enjoy the flavors that I grew up with, and there are time when yours is the awsomz!!! I guess a better way to answer this is “If there is pasta with it, it’s all good!”

Airplane reading: Samantha Sans Dosage or Sarah Palin speeches?

Sans Dosage, right after I complete a couple of Sudoku puzzles. Although I am sure I could read ALL of Plain’s speeches on a flight from John Wayne to San Jose, CA.

Does your wife have any little wine secrets that you care to expose?

Wine secrets? Not really. Pastis secrets, only when this blog becomes a fee based site, with adult controls (and Jeremy may reads this!!!).

How if at all, has your wife changed since entering the wine business?

Remember when we were home bodies and didn’t go out? Yeah, didn’t think so. But there was a time where we didn’t. You are now also much more open, and are incredibly confident in the abilities that you possess.

You are aware that your farts do not, “Smell like roses” right?

Lilies then? Tulips, maybe?

Do you ever, and if yes, do you enjoy attending wine events with your wife?

I only go the Friday night Champagne events at The Wine Country. Those are a blast, since I get to sit at the kiddie table!!!

You ever get jealous of Tyler?

No. I mean why would get jealous of a 3 ½ year old absolutely cute toddler who gets to touch your boobs in public with no repercussions? O.K., yes.

How much in your opinion, (not that I will listen to you) is too much to spend on a bottle of wine?

No more than I would spend on an average round of golf (Pebble Beach, St. Andrews are exceptions).

What is the reaction when you tell people what your wife does?

“Dude, that sounds cool!!! Do you get to try all of these great wines???”

Hangover cure of choice?

Hangover? Me? I try to avoid them by getting down on my knees and depositing all of the excess food and drink into the toilet the way it came in.

If I were to tell you that you might just be the sweetest man alive and I don’t think another man on the planet could/would tolerate me would you love me forever and share a bottle of Pastis with me?

I will NOT share a bottle of Pastis with you. I may, however, slowly enjoy one glass, and let YOU finish the bottle. Know what I’m sayin’??????????

Yes folks, that’s my hubby. The much written about, Call-o and I am not sure why he has such an affection for exclamation points and question marks…I am assuming it is either an Italian thing, (not being able to talk with his hands) or his Snausage, (not a typo, that’s what I call them) fingers….pudgy and insisting that he does in fact talk with his hands. It’s that or I married a fourteen year old girl!!!!!!

Thank you Carl. Thank you for pretending that I was not annoying you when I asked you to do this. Thank you for finding something adorable in me and thank you for shinning a light on the little talked about, “Wine Widowism”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hookin' You Guys Up & Answering An Age Old Question

I have been getting so many comments about this article that I wrote for The Wine Country newsletter this month, women coming in telling me how much they loved it, how they either cut it out or left the newsletter open for their dudes to see. I am touched and humbled as always but here’s the thing, the article in the newsletter is not complete, we had to chop it to make it fit on one page, so much of the stuff that made me snicker sadly had to be sacrificed to the space gods. So guess what?! I have a damn blog and junk….all the space in the world to yammer my senseless ramblings, howz about that? So without further adieu…..

What Do We Want?

“What do women want?” age old question is it not? Yeah, the reason this little nugget is still one of life’s unsolved mysteries is because the question is akin to, “What’s for dinner?” the answer is different for everyone. Always slays me that men, being the problem solvers that they are, are constantly vexed, haunted by this question. It’s quite sweet really, oh sure they are trying to make their lives easier by giving us challenging creatures what it is we need and want, it’s part of the whole, “A happy wife is a happy life” mantra, but ultimately they really do wish to please us and I think that is very sweet, kind of like when a puppy chases his tail.

Just about this time every year Randy tells me, “Hey Sam, why don’t you do a Valentines piece, something about what women want” as if to say, “Hey, you have a uterus, tots and some extra estrogen, you must have a manual or something”. Randy and I have had this conversation a billion times, he is one of the kindest, most open minded men I know, he loves women, respects women and has always had a staff that was full of women, but this one little thing just plagues him, nags away at him, fascinates him and I think I he hoping that I will someday reward his years of dedication to finding out what it is that makes women tick, with an answer.

Now before you read any further, I want to assure you that I am not about to give up all our secrets, not going to tell them all the stuff they taught us in that, “special” gym class and I will not divulge the, “Big Three”….but let me help them a bit okay? Hell, let me help you a bit, I mean do you really want another teddy bear dressed as Zorro, holding a dusty silk rose between his teeth? Oh man or even worse, one of those cardboard, and velvet heart shaped box of waxy chocolates? Or his, “Sexy Dance of Seduction” that he named himself, complete with hip wiggling, shoulder dropping and that painfully slow unbuttoning of the shirt? You see, I am here for you just as much, if not more than for them. Now just try and trust me, hand this newsletter back to him and…forgive me.

Okay guys, I am going out on a limb here. I am seriously at risk of having my, “Girl Card” yanked and be denounced a traitor, but I am going to share a few things with you here in The Wine Country newsletter that you will rarely, if ever, hear anywhere else…I’m going to tell you what it is that women want. I going to crack open my manual and give you what all the men that came before you have longed to know. Read carefully, let it sink in and for god sakes remember what your local wine retailer is willing to do to help you out, I assure you that the stock boy at BevMo would never do this. Here goes…

Women Want:

To be admired for their intellect but Wanted for their beauty

To be wanted by everyone but Touched by few

To have their car full of gas but Never have to ask or feel dependant on it

To be worshiped and lusted after but Not pawed at or slobbered on

To be told the truth but Not if it will hurt our feelings

To be treated as an equal but With chivalry

To be seen as a strong and powerful person but Revered for the naughty vixen she is

To be cuddled but Not smothered

To be appreciated for all that she does but There is no but on this one

To not have to make every decision but Not have you make them, “wrong”

Practical Romanticism
Passionate Comfort......


Easy enough right? Can’t see why this is so hard to figure out. So here’s my last and final nugget of wisdom for you gentleman, the real deal, the most important answer to your age old question…we want you to keep trying to figure it out. We want to be the problem, (we prefer puzzle by the way) that you just cannot ever fix, the “question” that is always on your mind, we rather like haunting you.
So as your friendly and very helpful wine retailer might I make one suggestion? Respect her as your intellectual equal that you are dying to seduce…get her some wine. You never know, after a bottle or two of one of these wines, you may just get what it is that you want….for her to say yes.

NV Camille Saves Carte d’Or Grand Cru Brut $71.99
Big, rich, powerfully curvy fruit, baked apples and buttered crust but with a smack of citrus and a touch of an almost Sherry like complexity.

NV Vve Fourny 1er Cru Brut Rose $45.99
Romantic packaging, supple, deep fruit and wild spices and chalkiness…and it’s pink, C’mon!

2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol $41.99
One of the greatest wine couples ever Lucien and Lulu Peyraud, owners of Domaine Tempier. A couple in love with their wines, their food, serving both to a table full of friends and family…and each other. Lucien is gone now, and I was told he was buried on the estate where Lulu still brings him little treats. Is it true, not sure but the idea is damn romantic. This Bandol is full of wild herbs, smoky earth, meaty flavors all wrapped in gentle cooked fruit and a powerful, grippy finish.

2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Meursault $53.99
Meursault is just sexy. Ripe pears and red apples, roasted nuts, toasty flavors with a succulent mouth feel and a snappy little bite of palate cleaning acidity.

2006 Domaine Maume Gevrey-Chambertin $59.99
Another sexy wine in that contrary way. Dark red cherries, roasted coffee, spice but with a intriguing bit of raw meat, teriyaki and herbs. Deeply flavored with a medium mouth feel, bright vibrant fruit and a punch of mouth cleaning acidity.

Passionately Intellectual, RAWR

Sunday, February 7, 2010

You Might Just Be Right

“Life has been really good to you hasn’t it? I can just look at you and tell that. I’m happy for you.” I stood there unsure of how to respond to such a comment. This woman, a customer I had seen maybe ten times in the past five years….ten times in five years, and there she was saying something so profoundly bizarre that I was simply unsure what to do. I kind of shrugged my shoulders, found my eyes searching her face for some form of hint or clue as to what she was trying to say, or moreover, what she expected to hear. “Um, well I am pretty happy if that’s what you mean…” was all I could think to say. She pressed her over tanned hands together, gave me the head-cocked-slow-closing-eyes nod and said, “You’re blessed”…

I tried to just go on about my day, put this odd woman’s somewhat intrusive and highly speculative comments behind me but no matter how I tried to distract myself I could hear those words, see her somewhat age inappropriate glitter top, loose skin around her sun worn face…staring at me, waiting for me to respond. The way my tossed together, stuttered answer seemed to please her, reassure her that she was in fact right about whatever idea she had about me. The whole thing felt so weird, not that someone would say something odd…shit I get random comments thrown at me left and right but this, this felt so different, made me think…has it been good? Look, I am a very open woman, I have never been one of those private people…my stuff is kinda all out there, hell I even, (against the incessant warning of many dear friends) share my life here on this blog for all 14 of you to read. Don’t feel as my life is more special or compelling than anyone else’s, therefore it never dawned on me to keep anything a secret. That being said, I also never felt that I needed to wear it on my sleeve. Any badges or scars that I may carry, I try and feel them, never hide them…remember them but not blame them or use them as a crutch. Was it always easy?

“How many more days until no more pancake day?” I was five or six years old and sitting at our tiny table that was set up in the kitchen. “It’s on the calendar, remember the big circle on the calendar? You tell me how many more days” my mother, trying her best to distract me, have me count days…hear her daughter count off the number of days left until, “Circle day”…payday, most likely using the sing-song tone in my counting down to soothe her feelings of fatigue and failure. I dropped my fork on my plate of now most hated food, hopped off my chair and made that little flinching face as I drug the chair across the kitchen floor, the little metal disks affixed to the legs of that chair scrapping across the linoleum floor …a makeshift ladder to reach the wall mounted calendar. We had been living on pancakes, with Karo Syrup, for over a week, three meals a day every day. Not easy but it taught me two things; I hate pancakes, will not eat them to this day and, to look for the light at the end of each and every tunnel…

“Why does my dad fall asleep all the time? Is he sick or something?” around the same age and returning from a very rare visit at my, “dad’s” house. I don’t have any memory of my parents ever living in the same house, it was always our house and his house. “Yes baby, he’s very sick” my mother replied while parking her VW Bug, (to this day I can recall the smell of that car, leathery and rubbery with a touch of gasoline. Just thinking of that smell, merely recalling that aroma and I get a smile on my face. Me and mom either singing Kenny Loggins, “Even though we aint got money, I’m so in love with ya honey” or her quizzing me on the presidents…guess I have always had a connection to aromas) I felt the car shake as mom swung her door shut with an unusual amount of force. That night while tucked into bed I learned the name of my father’s illness, my mother was on the phone crying and that was when I heard it for the first time, “Junkie” A few months later I learned another word by eavesdropping on my mother crying on the phone…overdose. Not at all easy but it did teach me to fear loss a little less, taught me at a very young age that life does in fact go on. Loss is still horrifically tragic and painful for me but…I don’t spend much time fearing it. It also taught me, (and this would be cemented when I lost my mother) to love in the here and now, never forget to tell people what they mean to you…how they touch you, life is one crazy ride and you just never know…

“Sam, come in here” I was nine or ten years old and it was the most hated voice on the planet. My brother’s father, a person so full of hate, jealousy and self loathing that it seemed to bubble from his every pore. A man so conflicted by a Catholic upbringing…while trying to battle the conflicts of same sex attraction that he felt entitled to punish anyone, (that was smaller than he…he was like five foot three, that left me) that happened to be in his path. He was my mother’s first husband, (my father was her second) and he had used his big house, the promise of better schools, a better life, to reel my mother into moving into what was basically the maid’s quarters of his home. My mother loved that house, loved not having to pay rent, (she bought and prepared all the meals while working full time) loved the big backyard with the pool….adored giving her kids something that she never felt she could do on her own.

That’s why I never told her, never told her that my heart would race, my throat constrict and my tummy would flip when I heard his Trans Am pull into the downstairs garage. I knew the sound, had actually trained myself to hear the garage door open and that was when I would start the heart pounding covering of my tracks…I would turn off the television in the den, (that was there for everyone, but not really) walked backwards with my socks on, (always kept my socks on) shuffling my feet to cover any foot or toe prints that my feet may have made. Slip out the sliding door just off the den and run like the wind, eyes wild with panic, through the kitchen entrance and back into the area I shared with my mother.

He never touched me, never anything like that. No, what he loved to do was humiliate me, have me come into the den that he filled with whatever young men he was able to pick up at the bars…throwing his money around, promising drugs, talking about his big house and fast car. He would call me before them and start his bile spewing, “See I told you I had a troll that lived off the kitchen. She’s lucky her mother has to love her right?” the whole time laughing and pouring drinks to further intoxicate the prizes he had brought home. I would stand there either twisting my hair between my fingers and trying to recite songs in my head or on the nights when he was relentless…I would just focus on not making eye contact or letting them see my eyes welling up with tears. This went on for a couple years before I finally broke down to my mother, she found us a new place to live and we moved out. The one time he tried to pull that shit in our new home, he just walked in, started opening the mail and asked me, “Hey troll, what’s for lunch?” I learned something about myself…I was pissed. I snatched the mail from his tiny pale hands, leaned in, my face close enough to smell his expensive but cheap smelling cologne, “Your lunch is waiting for you down the street at Jack in the Box. Get out of our fucking house you evil piece of shit!” I swear had he flinched I would have ended up in juvenile hall. Not my best comeback but my first and something that is with me each and every day. That man died as he lived, miserable and alone and what I learned from that….what goes around comes around. That and to never make my physical appearance be more than an opinion. My worth should be about me, not how I look…good or bad, just me, the person I am…the person I try to be.


I could go on and on, the series of events that lent themselves to making up this…well, casserole that I am now, well they were all needed and I do not forget or regret any of them:

“Well, we figured out why your stomach hurts, you’re pregnant!”…fear and responsibility.

“You have zero funds available in your savings account”…finding out that helping your meth addicted brother is just another lesson in what not to do.

“Sam, you had better get here quick, I don’t think she is going to make it”…Mother

“We figured out how he was able to find you, tracking device on your car, one that he stole from work…it’s traceable Sam, we got him”… longer my word against his.

“So I hear you’re going to France with me” …..Michael Sullivan ruining the surprise.

“Mom, I just wanted to thank you for taking a chance on me”…call from my son after having to act out a play where he leaves his pregnant girlfriend.

“No Michael, she’s is wood tannin” …..Didier Dagueneau siding with MY palate.

“Samantha Dugan, will you marry me?”…the day I said, “Yes”

“Would you like lobster or caviar to start?”….business class on my last trip to France.

“Does it please you?”…..tasting in Lafon’s cellar.

“I am so proud of you”….Randy Kemner, more times than I can count.

“Leaving you is the hardest part”….the closest friend I have ever had leaving for Texas.

“How’s my gorgeous girl?”…..a love that I never saw coming but will hold in my heart forever.

Come to think of it…life has indeed been very good to me. Thank you oddly tanned stranger, thank you for letting me know that each and every piece of my life is shown on my face, my gate, the bounce in my step…my fight, my laugh, my tears, my wide open palate, the one that tastes and the one that tells the stories. Seeing your life in the mirror of someone else’s eyes…so powerful and just this once, I feel puffed up, proud and beautiful in a way that is unlearned, not taught…only felt. I feel truly lucky.