Monday, October 11, 2010

A Scratch 'n Sniff Guide to Wine


I finally went wine-tasting.

(As a rule, I don't like tasting things that aren't pres
ented on a grease-slicked hot plate between aisles 4 and 5 by a woman wearing a button that reads, "You'll never go back to 'real' sausage!" But what can I say? I caved to social pressure.)

Anyway, it was not my usual hang-out. That is to say I felt a little out of my element. Like John Wayne at a lingerie shower.

For those of you who haven't gone tasting yet, here are a few "heads-up" items to keep in mind when planning your visit.

First of all, there is little to no RV parking, so get there early and bring your pylons to mark your turf!

Also, I sensed a definite lack of athletic spirit of any kind, so I'd recommend leaving your team jersey at home. Instead, ladies will want to pack an extra-large handbag festooned with as much gold-tone bric-a-brac as one can hoist, and gents will feel at home dressed somewhere between Captain Von Trapp and Thurston Howell III.

Also frowned upon: fist-pumping, pounding the bar to underscore one's appreciation of a particular selection, and exclaiming, "Gah, that's total crap!" to express the notion that you won't be buying a case of that one.

Oh, and classical music. It's everywhere. Nothing says why-yes-I-do-need-a-$125-set-of-pewter-cheese-knives-with-handles-shaped-like-the-Eiffel-Tower like the overture from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

Basically, going wine tasting is like being in a Gre
y Poupon commercial for eight straight hours. Not bad...just different.

Say What?

Most perplexing, however, was the language.

When one of the tasters remarked with great solemnity to another that the wine was, "Cloying...while still ponderous," I got excited, figuring I was witnessing a coded exchange between two foreign operatives.

Then I noticed that everyone was talking that way.

Here they were - the same folks I had observed out in the parking lot recapping the latest episode of "Jersey Shore" at the top of their lungs while adjusting the seats of their underpants - now swanning around, pinkies up like terriers' tails and describing their wines as "brawny", "austere" and "tight."


How was anyone supposed to participate in this game? Clearly, some kind of fax was sent around beforehand.

Fear not, however, because I've compiled a little cheat sheet of my own personal wine-tasting terms that you can whip out when you find yourself surrounded by people dressed like the cast of "Dynasty" and complaining that the bottle they just opened is "volatile" and "angular."

The LJKGW Wine-Tasting Glossary

- tastes like three-day-old popcorn with a delightful Junior Mint afternote.

Gummy - as in bear; as in makes little multicolored sugar-sweaters on your teeth.

Marsupial - leaves your mouth feeling like the inside of a kangaroo's pouch.

Woolly - demands immediate dry-cleaning.

Punitive - refers to the taster's residual uneasiness and belief that the wine is out to get him or her.

Loose - a wine that you suspect already has been tasted by everyone in the joint.

Pastoral - tastes like sheep.

Low-Maintenance - can be removed from your carpet with a damp sponge.

Repentant - makes you regret tasting it the minute it hits your tongue.

Aquatic - brings to mind the big fish tank at your dentist's office.

Shifty - of suspect origins; won't look you in the eye.

Alpine - tastes like those tree-shaped car fresheners smell.

Potato-ish - could use some ketchup or makes you feel like you have eyes all over your head.

In Other News...

I'm thrilled to announce that Ann Imig has invited me to produce the Los Angeles presentation of Listen To Your Mother - a spoken-word show she created this year in her town of Madison, Wisconsin and is now taking national for 2011. Directing the LA show will be my friend and most excellent writer/blogger Lisa Page Rosenberg. I'm so excited to work with these ladies!

And speaking of Listen To Your Mother, the LTYM Salon will happen this weekend at CA'10 in Ojai, California - just one of the cool, casual items on the CA'10 weekend agenda. This bite-sized preview of the full-scale show will feature nine writers reading essays about different aspects of motherhood. I look forward to reading a new piece called "The Babymaker."


Joanie said...

First of all, congrats on the new gig!

I don't understand wine lingo either. Either I like the way it tastes or I don't.

Maybe I should print out your glossary and keep it handy, just in case!

Fragrant Liar said...

Girl, I take my wine like I take my men, brawny and tight.


I am going to take your glossary with me to every wine tasting now. Thing is, I only last about an hour at those things, cuz I get toasted pretty quick. Yes, I am a cheap date.

Congrats on the LTYM gig. I have hinted to Ann that we need one in sunny Florida...

Ann Imig said...

Basically, going wine tasting is like being in a Grey Poupon commercial for eight straight hours. Not bad...just different.


OMgosh thanks for the shout outs!!!
I so appreciate your help getting the WYRD out.



Karen at French Skinny said...

Everyone knows you don't pair a bow tie and tuxedo shirt with a cork cardigan! Just a simple GAP T Shirt and God's Eye necklace would have pulled that look off perfectly.
I have to go aquanet my fake fur flowers now.
I can't wait to see your production of LTYM!
I love you all.

Lori @ In Pursuit of It All said...

Personally, I'm a fan of the wines that are litigious with subtle undertones of dryer lint.

And I find that you get the best service if you shout in a heavy accent, "Is that where y'all keep your hooch???"

You know. A nice family day.

Am envious of all the fun stuff coming.

Have a blast! (In a totally safe, child-friendly, keeping-arms-and-legs inside the event at all times, sorta way).

Libertine said...

Grats on the invitation!

If it comes to wine tasting... I find it always stiff upper-lip pretence with ability to talk rubbish while trying to appear knowledgable. I don't care about the "bouquet", I either like it or not.

Unknown said...

I live pretty close to wine country (if there truly is such a thing within a 30 mile radius of St. Louis) and wine tasting is HUGE this time of year. I'll be sure and take your glossary with me so as to be sure and speak the language. Oh, and if'in I happen to pick up any new terms in our wine country I'll be sure to pass them on to you.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

That's awesome abut LTYM! Woohoo! Thanks for the new glossary re. wine tasting. I don't get out much, so I can use all the help I can get. Is that too cloying???

Pearl said...

First of all, congratulations!!

And secondly, absolutely loved this post!

My father likes to describe wines as "insouciant" or by muttering "knowing, yet innocent".


La Belette Rouge said...

I want to go wine tasting with you. I feel sure I would end up doing spit wine takes if I went with you. You can't be that funny while I am trying to drink. Wait until I get the wine down my gullet.

Congrats to you! I am very excited for you.xoxo

Shari said...

"multi-colored sugar-sweaters on your teeth". Yes. Yes. Yes.

K A B L O O E Y said...

I want to go to the show. Should I just start camping out now? Got to round up that old sleeping bag and tent. LJKGW directed by LPR doing LTYM? STFU! I want to go...

HermanTurnip said...

Oddly enough, "gummy", "marsupial", "shifty", and "repentant" perfectly describes my first apartment.

And the last time I went on a wine tasting tour I managed to pick up a wicked migraine. So there I was, drunk and in pain, telling the girlfriend that I could give two sh**s about damned Sauvignon that everyone was so into, and to get me to the car so I could curl into the fetal position in the trunk.

Ah...good times...

Joanie Hollabaugh said...

OMG I am taking my Ohio-born beer swilling husband to a wine tasting tonight! I will print out your cheat sheet and super glue it to his forearm. Thanks, Anne. You saved me

Unknown said...

Fabulous post...had me laughing from the get go! I chanced upon your site while cruising through BC's humor blogs and am so glad I did!

And as for weird wine words...I don't get any of it but then again I suppose I'm one of those people who makes other people feel smart and don't we all need to feel smart every now and again? So I figure I'm doing the public (that gives a hoot about wine) a service with my ignorance!

Again, great post.

L. Avery Brown

lisahgolden said...


You are hilarious!

I used to have to organize an annual wine tasting for my job. It started out very posh and typically ended when someone decided to go streaking through the attached art gallery. (not always me)

I'm afraid my palate is dulled by too much junk food. I have two ways of judging wine. 1.I like this one. or 2. I like this one more.

Tarja said...

First, I would drink a gummy wine. It sounds delicious. Second, I've had punitive wines. They punch you in the kidneys again and again but I keep going back for more. Because hey, a glass of wine is a glass of wine, right?

And yay to LTYM! Very exciting.

Kevin McKeever said...

I usually only taste the repentant after too much wine.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I had no idea there were so many adjectives applicable to wine. The only adjectives I've ever used about the vintages in my neck of the jungle are "antiseptic" and "anesthetic".

essbesee said...

Congrats on the producer gig - that's awesome!

I often feel like John Wayne at a lingerie shower. And I love wine but don't know the lingo. Clearly, you shouldn't say a wine "smells good" which I did one time to a lahteedah wine person. I think I was supposed to say something about the notes of the nose or some fancypants stuff. Glad to have your guide to go by for future conversations.

Rebecca Dot Com said...

I'm not a wine girl at all, but I enjoyed reading this post! I'm your newest follower! Come follow me back and let's keep in touch! Enjoy your week! :)

Jeanne Estridge said...


purplemoon said...

Just found your blog and world of humor. Thanks you are on my site. Total panic. I used to own French restaurants you don't know how right you are. Especially Marsupial!

Vikki said...

Loved this post! I attended two wine tastings recently...asked to leave the first one because I kept asking "What the hell does that MEAN??" and the second one because I was laughing so hard, I spit before I was supposed to. I'm taking your glossary to the next one. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see this from a woman's point of view!


Ghetto_Owl said...

Hahahaha! I live in an area of Texas with many small wineries. I enjoyed your decoding of the wine tasting. I want to go to one, but I am a tshirt and capri, flip flop in the winter kind of girl! I don't even own any clothing that is metallic. I will never make it there!

Beth Kephart said...

Did you come across any wines named delish?

(and congrats on all the new stuff swinging your way!)