Friday, December 19, 2008
My Most Embarrassing Wine Moment
Every time I visit my daughter and grandchildren in Amarillo, Texas I am reminded of one of my not-so-finer moments in the world of wine.
A few years ago my daughter and her family moved from the cotton fields of Lubbock to the cattle ranches and feed lots of Amarillo. During my first visit I was introduced to Amarillo’s unique “pungent” bouquet when the wind blows out of the West. The first whiff and I knew I was in cattle country.
During that same visit I flew to Dallas for winery business. The colleague I was to meet had scored tickets to a wine tasting at a historical and elegant 5-star restaurant. The tasting was kept to an intimate 25 people, dress was cocktail casual and the wines had been handpicked by the head sommelier. I could hardly wait!
In tux attire, the sommelier greeted most of his guests by name. I was introduced as the owner of Olympic Cellars in Washington State. That started a bit of conversation amongst the guests who favored French wines and California Cabernets… but had heard a lot of good things about Washington wines!
Now normally, I taste and spit at these types of events. I’m a bit of a lightweight and know my limits, especially when it comes to keeping my “mouth” in check.
Aaah, but these wines were heaven in a bottle and as each wine was poured, my will power lessoned and I began to savor each velvety sip. The evening’s pièce de résistance was a famous old French Bordeaux (even I recognized the name). As this wine was poured, the atmosphere of the room changed… hushed voices that were almost reverent replaced the boisterous conversations of before.
Anticipating nirvana, I swirled the wine and gently lowered my nose to the glass. Deeply inhaling, my senses suddenly were sent careening and I spoke before my brain engaged; “This wine smells like AMARILLO”, I said none to quietly.
But the room did get quiet – real quiet – as the sommelier slowly walked to our table and stood right in front of me. “Madame, that is nose of fine old Bordeaux with just a hint of the barnyard”, he said with stern dignity, putting me in my place.
If only I had stopped there…
“Well frankly I think the barnyard has a little too much horse manure!” I retorted.
Whoops… I really stepped in “it” this time. Should have spit and kept my mouth shut.
But really, the wine by any other name or price tag WOULD have been poured down the drain.
But what do I know. Almost all the guests ranked the wine #1.