Accompanying my little brother into a Vineyard’s sale-cellar is one of my family’s favorite amusements—and educational too.
It usually goes something like this:
Leaving my brother’s old Ford station-wagon (not a classic, just old) to tick in the heat, we follow my brother in a ragtag bunch into the airy cool of a swanky looking sales area with a neat bar.
The sharp-nosed assistants (in impression more in than appearance) contrive to look down their noses at my brother’s baggy cargo shorts, dusty sandals (not flip-flops, but close cousins), t-shirt and bush-hat. One will disappear, leaving the luckless one to see to us.
My sister-in-law would follow my brother, looking somewhat guilty (she’s just noticed some mysterious hole in my brother’s t-shirt which most certainly wasn’t there when it she last hung it out to dry). The rest of us shuffle in trying not to talk too loudly and look out of place. I don’t know if we succeed.
This initial discomfit can be endured for the magic we are about to witness.
“Hi,” goes my brother in his Merlot-like voice, pulling off his hat, and laying it on the counter. “We’d like to sample some wine, if that’s OK.”
“Certainly,” goes the assistant, trying to hide some kind of pain, or perhaps wishing they are allowed to say something else. “Which would you like to try, sir.”
My brother will glance through the menu, then go: ‘This, this, and maybe this.”
“Will it just be you, sir, or…”
My brother will look around, and those of us there to sample along will drift around the disapproving assistant.
I like to stand a little away to experience the whole scene.
The wine will be poured, always white first, and the magic begins.
My brother will swirl the glass delicately once or twice, then take a sip. At this point, the assistant will always be watching him.
So would I.
A faraway look comes into my brother’s eyes as his brain accesses the last time he drank a similar wine, the food he ate with it, the weather and the date and possibly time of the experience.
“Hmm…,” begins my brother, “It’s quite like your 2014, only without the insertvinenamehere.”
At this point there is a moment of silence. Then an amazing transformation comes over the assistant. They being to smile, and glow.
“Yes! It is much like our 2014. We felt the insertvinenamehere was a little too overpowering. We thought we’d try something new. But if you like…”
“Oh, I quite like this with the…is it insertanothervinenamehere?”
“Yes, sir! And if you like that, you’ll definitely like this! It adds a whole new dimension to the insertsomevinenamehere.”
The assistant pours from another bottle.
My brother tastes, the assistant watches enthralled, and my brother goes, “Ah, I see what you mean. Not as good as with the insertsomeothervinenamehere, but it brings out the whatwasthatothervinename.”
An animated arcane discussion on vines, blends, and vintages ensures, along with more sampling of specific wines.
At one point the assistant will go, “You must try this. We usually charge for this one, but seeing how it’s you…”
And so it goes, the assistants all but worshiping this most fabled of beings, the Wine Wizard, while the rest of us watch amused, some of us even remembering to sample the wine.
Eventually, my brother brings us to the closing rites: “Do you sell mixed cases?”
“We do, sir!” (and if we didn’t, we would for you!)
“Great! I’ll take two bottles of this, and three of that…”
“Where would you like it delivered sir?”
“Oh, I’ll just take it with me.”
“Would that be card, sir?”
“Yes.” It magically appears.
The assistants beam so brightly, I have to put my sunglasses back on.
We follow my brother the Wine Wizard, as he ceremoniously leads us, case of wine in his arms, bush-hat on his head, back to the ticking Ford. The assistants, still smiling and glowing, invite us back whenever we’re passing. For it’s rare to meet a true-born Wine Wizard, even at a vineyard’s sales-cellar.
And it’s a truly blessed family which has one of its own; especially with all the wining and dining we do.