What is it about visiting Californians (not all, of course, but most) that makes your friendly bartender most unfriendly? Is it the fact that when ordering wine they act like oenophiles who were raised on their very own vineyard, or is it… oh, I don’t know… the fact that when ordering wine they act like oenophiles who were raised on their very own vineyard? I just can’t decide. For they give the event when they walk in the door… the event called, “I’ll have a Cab”… all the deliberation of the purchase of a car. And that’s putting it mildly.
So I ask you, Golden Staters, to put this into perspective… do people visiting from Green Bay, in the mood for a juicy cheeseburger, ask your friendly bartender, “Is your cheese made from winter milk when the cows feed on hay, or summer milk when those babies feed on greens?” Or do people visiting from Baltimore in the mood for a plate of crab cakes, ask in a superior tone, “I need to know if the meat is Blue Crab or Dungeness.” Or what about the Floridian dying for a screwdriver, is he or she prone to query, “Do you use fresh squeezed, reconstituted or single strength?”
Get the picture? So why must you always take on that air of connoisseur of the grape, and bury your nose in the glass like you’re solving a crime? Like these three golden beauties of a few weeks back…
On an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night, when the bar was three quarters full and free of bullshit, in walked a caravan of bullshit to fill the quota. And if cameras had been rolling when they made their grand entrance, the show would be called “The Real Housewives of Napa”. These gals were all in their mid to late forties, each attractive and knew it, and each was sprinkled with enough glittered hardware to catch a mugger’s eye at three hundred paces. The Magi in heels!
“Does this place sell wine?” said the blond, who seemed to be the lead guitar in this band. Her back-up players were both brunettes and behind her.
(This place? What… not enough chrome-and-glass or hanging ferns, lady? Where do you think you are, some truck stop?)
“Yes,” I replied, “this place sells wine.”
“Is it decent?” she then asked, incredibly.
“It’s more than decent, miss… where do you think you are, some truck stop?”
“Oh, well, see we’re from California and needless to say we’re picky about our wines (No shit, Meditrina, why was I thinking Cleveland or freaking Newark?) and we’re not the type to drink just any old thing. Do you have a list?”
“Then you want to buy a bottle.”
“No, just a glass, do you have a list by the glass?”
“Sorry, we don’t… just a list of our bottles.”
She turned and looked at her back-up players then turned and looked at me. “Then what do you have by the glass, Sir, in reds? Tell me about those.”
Tell me about those? Well at this point, dear reader, not having prepared a speech on each to bolster each glorious grape… it’s vintage, it’s vineyard, it’s label designer and oak species… I went over and grabbed the four we pour… Cab, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cotes du Rhone… and placed them in front of the trio along with four glasses. I figured, a sniff-and-a-sip beats a thousand words any day.
But this is where it got, if not annoying, funny. After I poured a bit of the Cab the lead guitar took a sniff, then passed it along to her back-ups for joint consensus. Then they each took a sip and passed it along, just like they did when inhaling, reminding me of Apostles at The Last Supper. With equal reverence. And this was just the Cab! I had three more bottles to go in this on-site inspection.
“Just so you’re aware,” I said, in a mild attempt at humor, “we close around one and it’s already nine. Now I’ve got me a bar to run, I’ll be back.” Well at least one of the back-ups got it and gave me a titter as I left, but then quickly slammed her nose back into the Merlot. She had a job to do!
When I returned about five minutes later (and thanks to the stars above), they’d agreed on the Pinot Noir to end the nonsense. And I mean thank those stars! For I’ve witnessed before, after tasting the four (each of which earns its keep) someone brazenly saying, “I’ll have a coke!”
Then a little while later, spotting this threesome from across the room some guy rolled into the “valley” of the dolls and offered to buy our ladies another round. And when the lead guitar said, “Yes, but… maybe this time we’ll try… ” I quickly poured three more Pinots before she could finish. I had visions from hell of, “Tell me about your whites.” And I got away with it. She wanly smiled as she cupped her hand around the Pinot.
Well, after that second round of drinks and a lively conversation as well, the ladies paid their bill and made their exit. And the guy did the same. But something told me he wasn’t on his way to join them. Why? Because left on the bar, torn in two, was the business card the lead guitar had given him. What a source of speculation!
For was this that guy’s way of saying to the world, “What a pain in the ass you are, lady?” Or had she said something like that to him and this was his response after she’d left? Or finally (and most interesting), did tearing up the card mean, “I don’t need a goddam service to get a date, lady?” Because when I got home later that night and pieced her card together (sly old fox that I am) and looked up the web site printed on its face, it turns out the lead guitar runs her own dating service. With a video to boot. Pretty impressive, yes?
So when all is said and done, I figure, and regardless of why that card was torn in two, one can only surmise as he looks at the facts… if she’s half as discerning at finding mates as she is at picking her wines, her clients must all be married in two weeks time!
But to get serious again. If you’re buying a bottle of wine, California, especially an expensive bottle, I can half see the histrionics required so please feel free to go through all the motions. I’ll abide. But if it’s just a glass you require, make a decision and try to get on with your life. Whaddaya’ say? In other words, just because your state produces a cask or two and ships it across the country, you don’t have to act like your name is on each bottle. Because believe me it doesn’t impress it merely depresses.
Now where the hell is that card, I’ve got no date tonight!
Over and out from Bar-land, see ya’ next week-end!