Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I, I Need To Know

Just a few minutes ago, I passed through my home without one thought of you but somewhere between washing the days grime from my face and passing through the kitchen still lingering with the evening dinner aromas; onions, lemons, seared flesh, my mind flickered, a faint memory, a night of which I have barely spoken…my night with you, the way I had longed for it and the way it went tragically wrong.

I’m not romantic by nature but there is something fascinating about the way these things happen. The way one look, one touch, one unspoken but inferred and saturated line of words can peel off a layer of fear, skin, armor, or how something as harmless as an invitation to dinner can change forever what you thought you would…or would not do. How quickly we can get lost, lose our footing and stumble into something we were in no way ready for…my night with you, that night…I let myself stumble and I spend more time than I care to admit thinking about it.

I have wanted you for as long as I can remember, thought about touching you, having your scent envelop me, have my breath smell of you, feeling your power overtake me and letting myself soften and squish beneath your weight. I had let my mind spin about in wondrous stories about how it may happen, where we would be, who might be with us, when I would know, know the second it was about to happen…when you were ready to surrender, open up and let me take you in.

To harbor such desire for so long, to let your mind play while your body is unable to..only stokes the want, makes the longing more deliciously painful, even thinking of those years before that night, make me wish I could go back there…pay closer attention, know what I wanted more, know what part of you I might linger over the longest. Would I spend my, much ached for seconds hovering over you…taking deep lung filling smells, let your aroma seep deep inside of me, saturate each open bit of me, or would I let my tongue be my memory, let your taste spread all over me and be the one that I would measure all others against? Flashes, fantasies, seconds, minutes, hours…all you, they all belonged to you, to Us and it was all lost, in one night.

Have you ever wanted someone so bad that you quiver at the very thought of it, have a physical reaction to the mere idea of being close enough to smell their hair, taste the salt on their skin, dreamed of that three hour second just before your lips touch? The way your heart pounds and breathing gets more labored and desperate with each tiny inch closer to touching, flicking, biting, shaking and the inevitable prying of the lips. Eyes closed, mouth open, welcoming, wanting and waiting...

Now there has always been all kinds of chatter on the internets about bloggers, wine critics and credibility, and one thing that keeps flashing before my skimming-of-the-chatter-eyes, "the only way to truly judge a wine fairly is to taste it blind” and to that I have to say bullshit, or sort of bullshit. 

To remove the acquisition aspect of some wines is like making love to that person you have been wanting for years... craved, lusted for and spent hours devouring from afar....finally feeling them wet and beneath you or firm and above you, with the lights off. Would it mean as much if you had no idea who it was? It may not change the actual physical sensation but part of the pleasure is in the, having, for some of us anyway. So okay, you just made love to someone, it was nice…maybe not the best you have had, but viola, you turn on the lights and it’s Scarlett Johansson…change anything? Would it have changed anything if the lights were on BEFORE?! Okay, I’m being sexist, for the ladies lets imagine Denzel Washington, The HoseMaster of Wine, Adam Levine, (had to look that up, Sexiest Man Alive? Hesh up)  or George Clooney…although speaking as a hetero female, Scarlett? Dude, so down...she makes my flesh all pink and puckery and junk...

Spent a night years ago picking these wines apart...blind. Sat at a paid for dinner while a bunch of more-money-than-me jackwads pissed and picked apart these sensual, rarely seen this open treats. Me fumbling with my pen and even then wondering why I was there. You procured these wines, invited all of us to taste...

 In the interest of, I don't know what. Honesty? 

Honestly, had I known what I was rolling about in my mouth, I might have taken a fucking second to pay just a bit more attention. 

If I had only known....

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Alright By Me

“I don’t need no concert in the city, got a stereo and The Best of Patsy Cline.

Aint got no caviar, no Dom Perignon but as far as I can see I got everything I want.

 I got all I need and it’s alright by me.

I got shoes under my feet and forever in her eyes staring back at me. It’s alright by me”

A simple but soothing voice, warm and soulful spilling into my ears, filling my head and causing me and my stress bearing shoulders to sway. My neck loosening and all the tiny bones that run down my back unclenching as the banjo, fiddle and honey soaked voice coaxed the exhale I’ve been chasing for months from my chest. I felt the arches of my feet raise as my toes did as they want to do. Tugging across the carpet, up, down, back on the heels as my teeth dug deep into the fleshy bit of my bottom lip and my floppy hair spilled across my forehead covering one eye, my head bobbing to the playful, joyful, thankful bit of music that pumped through my entire being. Pulled at my core and made me actually smile…like a real, genuine, sincere smile. That ugly thing has been on hiatus as of late. Sure I can fake it like The Best of Cinemax chicks but to catch myself in an increasingly rare moment of sheer joy? Well I would have been pink-cheeked had I not needed it so fucking badly. 

Wasn’t the music really, although I have found former Hootie and the Blowfish star Darius Rucker’s solo, more country stuff wicked enjoyable, and I do still find him a whole lotta dreamy, it was the simplicity of the words, the story and meaning behind them that had me bent, swerving, feeling the tender and plushy bits of old carpet scraping against my flesh as my feet shuffled beneath my chair. The message, “I don’t need no five star reservations, got spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine….as far as I can see I got everything I want. I got a roof over my head, the woman I love laying in my bed. It’s alright by me.” Resonating and pinging like one of those silver pinball balls through me, bouncing around and slamming against the bars gaining points and momentum. 

Yup, been sucked into some wretched pre-holiday uckiness that has sunk its teeth into my neck and has drained everything out of me. My laughter. My snarl. My bite. My inquisitive nature. My desire. My indignation. My cravings. My drive. All of it buried under a pile of “How come?” that probably hasn’t any answers. It just is. People come, leave, chose you and chose to leave you. Move on to better themselves, dislike you for no and a hundred reasons, the trying to figure it out and fix it, Your issue not theirs. With the playful pluck of banjo strings and Darius Rucker filling me from the inside out I started thinking about the things that matter. The ones that are “Alright by me”

Kicking my shoes off after a long shift. Alright with me because it feels nearly as good as wet lips along my ribs.

The sting of ice on my teeth when I sip a much needed, icy martini. Alright with me because I fucking earned it.

When the sleep timer on the television in the bedroom kicks off. That metallic pitch right before the whole room goes dark and the silence. Feeling like I can hear the tips of my eyelashes brush against my cheek as I lie in the dark quiet and remember…Alright with me because I need that time to, well remember.  

Seeing my mother’s face, in my face. Alright with me because I’m beginning to look more like her, a legacy I’m proud to have changed a bit and when I see her looking back at me through the mirror in the mornings, I miss her less and hope that if there is a way, she’s proud of me.

Sobbing while watching a sappy chick flick love story. Alright with me because I know how they feel…

The sting of bacon grease when it spatters on my skin. Alright with me because it means I’m cooking and creating nourishment that will likely, hopefully, bring some people I love joy…worth it.

Detecting a corked wine. Alright with me because I am still the #1 corked wine sniffer outter at The Wine Country. Got a little skill there me…

Crying because I failed. Alright by me because it means I tried.

The way I rant, stomp about and create little flaming disasters. Alright by me because as much heartbreak as I’ve swallowed and given, these veins of mine are still vibrant and pumping. 

The way I can sometimes smell the night before leaking out of me. Alright by me because I am fine with being less than fucking perfect.

That I am often pinned against a wall with someone “misunderstanding” me. Alright with me because if I’m throwing that off, well I can’t be mad, I feel sort of girlishly pleased. But um, back the fuck up.

That the last vintage of Pierre Guillemot Savigny Aux Serpentieres filled my mouth a little more than this one. Alright by me because it means I’ve had several vintages of that glorious wine spill across my palate leaving a stain that I can’t forget. 

“I didn’t think that wine was drinking. I think I want more fruit or more aged Burgundy than what you have here” sort of Alright by me because it makes me strive harder, work harder, look deeper.

The rash I have gotten from wearing sweats that are too big while I am working out. Alright by me because those irritated little bits of skin remind me that I am making myself uncomfortable in an effort to make myself more comfortable.

Being told that I am closed minded because I don’t tout or promote certain wines. Alright by me because I am now looking for the best prices on airfare to France in April because I have been asked to attend the Les Artisans du Champagne at Les Crayeres as well as having the importer invite me to stay on through Burgundy and the Loire. Big, (as in fat) fish in a smallish pond, never in a million years would have thought…

I get annoyed with my staff at times. Alright by me because it means that I expect more, because I know they have it in them, and we wear the badge of being…better.

I’m like a savant when I make love. I spend hours letting my fingers trace and file away each and every inch of the very few men I have ever succumb to in that way. Alright by me because it means I was in love enough to spend hours, days if you would have let me, with my fingers, nose, eyes and mouth gathering and categorizing your each millimeter. Loving like that is alright by me…

I don’t particularly like Cabernet Sauvignon. Alright by me as there are so many other varieties that need me, my nose, my lips and my particular brand of RAWR more.

I was once married under the moon to a man that spent years trying to run away from me. Alright by me because I still love him and all I need to do to visit with him is slip outside. The trickle of water over stones, the in and out of my own breath, the big swollen moon hanging above the both of us, the “My Love, I miss you so” always just there beneath the moon and waiting…just as I will forever be 

I like to fancy myself some sort of a writer and at times, I am terrified to speak. Alright by me as it assures me that I am still as humble and befuddled as ever. I still giggle when I hear someone call me a specialist and seeing the names of the people I do in my email box….even now, takes my breath away….

At the end of the day, no matter how long and full of bullshit…I have this one voice, these wide open eyes, a heart that while bruised is still vulnerable to true love. A palate that is respected and encouraged, willing and wanting to learn more. I wear an older lady’s face while still having a young woman’s laugh. I protect those I love more than I would ever myself. I am sad but full of hope. I don’t want to talk but I want you to hear and feel me. I’m forever afraid and waiting for the other shoe but….I got this stereo and The Best of Patsy Cline. Spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine…

Alright by me.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Growing Fonder

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” this little phrase has always led me to mutter another, “Utter bullshit”. Not only have I never understood the phrase I have, on several occasions, seen it proven absolutely false. Absence, in the arena of passionate love, and strictly in my personal experience, has proven to live up to its name, leave an empty seat. The missing and lack of physical touch, exchanging of glances, being able to brush your lovers arm as you walk past, leading over time to anger, resentment, insecurities, blame, loneliness…lots and lots of tears. The once powerful and strong beating hearts reduced to swollen and glistening blobs, sore to the touch. Yeah, love affairs and long distances, for like extended amounts of time, those don’t work for me and my particular brand of crazy chick. I need the touching, the kissing, the laughing and the late nights with my face nuzzled into the flesh I crave. Just a thing, but a couple visits over the past couple months flipped that little, ‘Ahhh I think I might sort of get it now” switch and while I might still question that whole “Grow fonder” nonsense, I have to say being face to face with a great love after not seeing them for a too long a time…I can see some fondness there.

Last month I was able to spend a few hours with a couple folks I hadn’t seen in years, hadn’t made enough effort to reach out to and whose thrilled to see me faces filled a couple deflated places in this swollen blob of a heart of mine in the most delightful and needed way. One sweet loving friend launching into ball breaking jokes within five minutes of our hugging out the missing and the other stepping out from behind a very private and protective veneer to express a comfort in my friendship, in words so sweetly saturated with affection, and an openness so out of character that it took every bit of badass I had to not start blubbering on the spot. Being made to feel truly loved and appreciated, even when you have been, shamefully less than present, well yeah, who couldn’t see the fondness in that?

This past Saturday, while fielding “Not sure we can be friends anymore” emails and snarling comments on my last post, as well as a zillion Facebook messages from others about the whole thing I got to step away from my laptop and the ire of others and fondly melt into the arms of a far too often neglected Great Love of mine, the wines of Alsace. Standing there in the tasting room, lips tugging at racy Rieslings, luscious Pinot Blancs and wildly spiced Gewurztraminers, letting the friendly familiarity and reminder of great love spill across my palate, slip beneath my skin an wash away any little bit of yuck that had been plaguing me and making my jaw too tight….the fondness for those wines pumping a little beat back into my tough old heart. Got home that evening, feet sore and back a wee bit stiff from pouring for the sixty plus people that turned out, in awe of the fact that we could draw that kind of crowd, not just for white wine but for Alsatian white wines when we pulled in a whopping fifteen for Zinfandel, knowing that part of the reason for that was my years of cooing and nuzzling, sharing my heart and openly talking about the great love, the fondness I have for the astoundingly versatile wines from that little corner of France. My heart pretty fond of that feeling, no matter how long it takes to get there.     

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Offensively Defensive?

First of all I hope you both will forgive me my once a week, at best, posting right now. My life is not in total upheaval but between some emotional/personal wrenching, changes at work complete with brand spanking new hires, half the storage and back stock space I had last holiday season, and having to entertain the idea of piles of wine in the ladies room, the full court press from sales reps and importers needing to get their own ducks in a row and what has been a wonderfully full social calendar lately, well I simply haven’t had the time to devote to this place and the handful of you that come here to read, listen, lurk and feel me. It is a gift I never stop thinking about, please trust me on that. I am sure I am craving and thinking about you more than you are me but I can’t seem to muster more than the semi occasional, nearly always, mindless scroll and blurt over on Facebook these days. Killing me as that spot, while a fun outlet for my profound goofery, doesn’t bring me one one thousandth of the joy that being here does, readers and comments or not. Part of my whole being better to myself deal that I am building…or trying to build in the spare 10 minutes a day I have to devote to it right now. Pisser. Bugging me but not as much as another issue that has had me all arms folded and mouth shut lately…

“Yes, I’m calling from Texas and I was wondering, could you give me a recommendation for a red wine to serve with Thanksgiving?” a friendly enough caller that I was thankful was a slow talker so I could stand there hunched over trying to catch my breath seeing as I had to sprint across the shop to answer the ringing phone. I did explain to the nice gentleman that we wouldn’t be able to ship him any wine due to his state, (read controlling asswads) doesn’t allow us to but I would be happy to offer some suggestions anyway.

“Oh okay, well I am at the Target here in (insert whereeverthehell Texas city here) and I was hoping you could help me pick a wine from their selection here.” Sigh. Big huffy one actually. My mind was whizzing about with, “What the hell dude? How did you get our number? Why are you calling me? How can you have no idea how freaking nutty this is? You think my boss likes paying us to share the knowledge, he paid us to acquire, helping people spend their money somewhere else?” face scrunched into such a wrinkly mess I must have looked like a big fat walnut standing there. I was able to calmly (shut up, it was) clear my throat and say, “Sir, I honestly have no idea what wines they have there at the Whatecverthehell Texas Target” which I thought was pretty damned friendly for a sort of brush off. “Well it’s just your standard stuff, Castle Rock and Estancia” he continues….humpf. “Sir, I can’t help you. I don’t know those wines at all and wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you a holiday recommendation, from the Target wine department seeing as I haven’t had the wines in forever, if ever.”  Once I hung up I had one of those moments where I stand still for like 5 minutes wondering if that actually really happened before I dash across the store, arms flailing, back sort of arched in a “Oh no he did-int” fashion as I track down whichever employee I can wrestle down first to share that story with. 

Happened to be in Target, (don’t judge) a few days later and made a beeline for the wine department. I think I was just more curious than anything else and I have to say, at least in the Target I was shopping in, there were fewer big brands like Estancia and more, sort of silly labels. Lots of Mommy’s Time Out, Layer Cake, Ooh La La Pinot Grigio. I strolled through the aisle, (there was only one at my Target) very few things I’d seen before in front of me, feeling a little female pandered to, kinda cheesed out and that was when I saw, Fancy Pants Cabernet Sauvignon…yes! I whipped my phone from my bag and snapped a photo which I quickly uploaded to Facebook, you know, to share seeing as I had of course shared the Texas Target story there, with the caption, “Shopping the Target wine…depot”. 

The whole thing stupidly cracked me up. The Texas guy, my reaction, my staff’s response, just the wonder of human behavior that is retail. The reason I posted the Fancy Pants Cabernet picture kind of a jab at all of us, including myself. Got home to find that I was being taken somewhat to task for “making fun of people that buy those wines”. Say huh?! I found myself scrolling up and down trying to see what would make anyone think I was mocking, there was nothing. It was merely the picture and the name that, in my estimation, had someone else feeling defensive or feeling as if those wines needed defending from the big bad French buyer lady. I was taken aback and after hearing “I would bet that most imports in the $8-$12 price point are factory made” when I had not once brought up, or even thought about imports, well I fell into the protective mode of trying to figure out what I did that was offensive  enough to have someone telling me, “If those wines get people to drink more wine than I am all for it” and my own defensiveness responding, “I’m not convinced those wines do in fact create more wine drinkers. In fact, I think they do more harm than good.” Which just had us lobbing shit back and forth, and enough to pull some wanker in that couldn’t wait to point the, “You are being defensive” finger at me.  Kinda hard to defend yourself and not come off…well, defensive. Especially to those that see every comment as loaded and from an import specialist, a nip on the neck. Not very unifying that….

Felt the same kind of kerfuffle, discomfort and bile loaded ugly offensively defensive crap when I read some of the reactions to a Kermit Lynch interview in The New York Times Magazine. It’s like those waiting to be offended folks were just aching for something to snarl about. Running each line through their tense and sensitive meters looking for something to get their undies twisted about. I read Tom Wark’s recap and it felt like we had just watched two different movies. 

I read those answers Kermit gave, an eyebrow raised looking for those snarky and shitty comments I had heard swirling about and…um, not so much. I read things like, “I find myself asking sommeliers, “where’s that from?” it’s a treat. One of the most exciting things happening is sommeliers turning customers on to new wines” I’m sure he meant French wines and only French wines. He didn’t say anything even remotely like that but whatever. Noticed the “Pop wines” reference that got everyone frothing and seething and he didn’t once mention California wines in that part of the answer, in fact Tom tacked on a piece of another answer to that part of the recap which made it read that Kermit gave up on California wines because they were “Pop wines”. I don’t mean to imply that it was misleading, nope not implying at all, it was down-right misleading and funny there was no mention about the part where Kermit said that not drinking wines that were a certain alcohol percentage or higher meant you were missing out on great wines. Well shit no, couldn’t include that because that mucks up the whole hater image.

To clear it up, Kermit said he gave up on California wines when they started chasing scores, and even uttered a modicum of regret that he had missed out on some great wines because of that, which to Tom’s credit he did mention, as well as an appreciation for Kermit’s lack of dogmatic, “If you aren’t drinking this way you suck” which was a nice breather. There was a final bluster or rant about how higher alcohol, richly extracted wines sell and aren’t going anywhere and I agree, nor should they if they sell and make people happy but to completely ignore the fact that the more restrained and less rich wines have also always sold, continue to do so and have a growing audience, and increasingly so here in California amongst winemakers and consumers, well then you are selling your agenda and maybe being a little defensive.  Oh and one more thing, anyone looking to Kermit Lynch for advice or commentary on the wines of California is “touched”. Just as touched as anyone asking Charlie Olken or Steve Heimoff about French or Italian wines. Go talk to Parker’s Wine Advocate, the Spectator, a great retailer, (ahem) or some other publication that has specialist in each region. Kermit has been a French wine advocate for 35 years. He is the reason those of us that love, no, need French wines, drink as richly as we do and to waste his time asking about California wines, even though he lives here in California, (also lives in Provence, just saying) is just, well sort of shady. He isn’t an expert on California wines, he doesn’t love them and personally I think pinning him to the felt and using the looking glass to inspect him is an exercise in nut tugging. Just as I would should someone pin Charlie on the wines of the Loire, Alsace and Burgundy. Why are we all this way? Really? Can’t people like what they like without someone else thinking it means we are calling their baby ugly?

 Before anyone starts thinking I’m making myself out to be some fucking patron saint of wine drinking or appreciation, well just back on up off it. Just yesterday got myself tangled in a rat’s nest of bullshit and side picking. Dammit...beginning to wonder if I might need some industrial strength tape to press against my lips…to bind my fingers.

Found myself scrolling once again. Lost in the mindless flashes of kitty photos, memes, pictures of Pho and various political reposting crap over on Facebook, (fuck, am I selling that joint or what?) in an effort to not think about the go-jillion issues that have been pressing tightly against my skull and chest. Arrow up, arrow back down, click the like thingie, add an “LOL” where it applies. You can pretty much picture a drooling 5 year old and have a pretty clear picture as to what much of my time wasting Facebook stint looks like. That is until my puddling drool and thoughtlessness is brought to a screeching halt by a picture of two bottles of wine, both domestic, one Pinot Noir the other Grenache with a caption, “Two Burgundian reds”…everyone out of the drooling pool! Read that and felt like someone had slammed a 2x4 against the back of my skull. Literally felt like my brain imploded. Burgundian Grenache? Um I’m sorry but…what the?!

So of course I commented. Did a “???? Grrr” thing to start but goddamn it if I wasn’t sucked deeper into the lair of discontent. Found myself arguing with people whom I don’t know and have never heard of, (even the writer who posted I’ve only heard of via Facebook, never once has anyone in my 17 years mention her and I’m sure in her world no one knows me) had a newer blogger, (and someone that does it for fun, of course) tell me that I should read his post about why people use the term Burgundian to describe Pinot Noir, in an effort to straighten me out and got plungered into the spinning cycle of defensiveness that seems to weirdly encapsulate this wine stuff. Felt the fur on my neck getting all spiky with each, “Oh Samantha, you need to relax” comment that made me feel like I was uptight for thinking using the term “Burgundian" for Grenache, a variety not grown in Burgundy of course, is about as stoopid as “SonomaCoastian Chablis” and having a circle of jerks make me out to be the asshole while not one of them answered my inquiry about what Burgundian means and if it is the same as California Champagne? Think that was a fair question…I mean if it is a style then it’s a style and by using that term you just let me know you have much, much to learn about Burgundy. There isn’t one style and if you mean restrained, elegant, feminine or graceful…well guess what, there are other words that don’t fuck with the consumer (and make them look silly when they ask for a Burgundian Grenache…as opposed to what, a Bordelaise Grenache?) but once again when all the teeth left their mark and the jerking was over I was left with the slippery stain of elitism and snobbery because I am on “the other side”. 

“What did you expect if you splash around in the kiddie pool other than diaper rash? They are right Sam, you need to read that bloggers post, it’s such an original idea that has never been discussed before he came to the table and written about Ad nauseam, by you especially. Time to cash in that first ticket to the rodeo and stand your ground.You do need a drink, might I suggest a glass of Burgundian Grenache? Why argue with the noise? Use your unique voice and power, your draw, to pull the people, like me, that are here waiting to hear.” The email in response to my sniveling and fussing. A wine business friend that does happen to be on the same side but is also one of the most fair and balanced humans I know. Like me he just wants us all to find a way to talk, buy, discuss, feel impassioned by and drink wine. I was tucked into his firm chest and cuddled by the comment, no matter how shortly. The fact that I was tugged about in all sorts of directions just reminds me how much I love this wine stuff. None of us have the right answers for everyone. The trick, if there is one, is to kick some of the mud off the path in an effort to make big broad steps and room for the next firm backed and strong hearted bunch of pourers, talkers, writers and  teachers…

Hopefully with a little less offensive defensiveness, from both "sides"