Catcher in the Wry

A Taste of Wine- But Not For Me

This afternoon I had the exquisite experience of accompanying my parents and boyfriend to a wine tasting event in my area. When my mom suggested it to me, I surprised myself by not being overcome by any of my usual cynicism. Maybe it could be fun, I mused. Even though I am too young to drink anything, I could still hang out outside, catch up with the parents, meet some nice local residents and vendors… sounds great!
And, as always, comes the usual line in my columns: Oh, how very wrong I was.
The day was just cold enough to be uncomfortable. The clouds loomed and rain began to sprinkle down as we drove, and they all chortled to themselves, joking about how a little wine would keep them toasty. I just gritted my teeth and pretended to laugh along.
Immediately upon entering the fair, I was assaulted by the lady checking in. She clearly had already partaken in a few beverages herself, because she doubled over laughing at the sheer prospect of me just following my parents and boyfriend around. “You aren’t even gonna drink a little? Not a bit?” she giggled, making the cop behind her glare accusingly at me. She made a show of not letting me have a wristband and then sent me off, raising her glass at my tensed back.
Generally when I think of a wine tasting, I think of one or two tables with three or four kinds of wine on each. Unless I’m very much mistaken, this tasting was an exception. Nine wineries were represented, each showing around ten types of wine. My group eagerly dived in as I followed, feet dragging in the mud.
It came out within moments at the first booth that I was just there to hang out and eventually be the designated driver. Many bad jokes of all assembled ensued, to which my parents laughed louder and louder the further down the wine list they went.
They cheerfully meandered to the next booth, where we all sat through the same jokes again. I learned there to remove myself from under the tarp and stand in the rain, trying to look busy. What this resulted to was Googling hairstyles and hot drink recipes on my phone.
Each time I looked up, I saw my mom explaining my presence to the vineyard employees, who generally burst out laughing immediately. If not, they looked on me with a mix of distain and pity and soon turned away, shaking their heads as they reached to their glasses, no doubt thinking about how lucky they were. Other than those working the fair, it was remarkable how many highly intoxicated individuals showed up outside on such a rainy afternoon. One woman in particular caught my notice; she was easily the most interesting character in the whole event. Not only was she particularly inebriated, but she was also about 70.
As we followed the same path as her around the fair, we got to watch her scream at every wine merchant that “Grandma like to drink!” and “You can’t get nothin’ past Grandma while she still standin’!” Frankly, she put my crowd to shame. We watched in awe as she swilled whatever was put in front of her, only to slam her glass down, panting and shouting about how foul it was, only to ask for seconds. “Whatcha got that ain’t… [insert ancient Southern insults]?” she would demand. It was fine, entertaining even, to follow and watch her, until my dad decided, no doubt aided by the product he had sampled, that it was his job to harass this woman. They bantered back and forth for an embarrassingly long time, until it was so awkward that I begged him to move on.
Just when we thought we were free, my dad decided to try one last tasting on the way out. We entered a tent that only had one other taster present, thinking that at last we were in for a break. That is, until a question passed his lips: “Is this wine aged in American or foreign oak?”
This spent my boyfriend and parents into a tailspin, as they barely held on to their laughter long enough to sample the wines. They did quickly, in order, it seemed to me, that we could sooner get back into the car so that barrage of insults could begin to fly. And as I sat listening to them, I, for the first time that day, began to actually and for real laugh along.
With that, I decided that really, in the end, good stories make up for any amount of silly situations and people I could ever run into, even if it meant I had to stand in the chilling rain all day while watching my favorite people slowly becoming sillier and warmer, to get it.


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