Beer Girl, Wine State

IMG_2555(This could be called something more clever, like The Blog in Which I Out Myself as one of the few non-wine drinkers among moms, writers and social media mavens, but that’s one of those titles that’s going to mess with my SEO in ways I’d prefer not to).

I know there is an etiquette to wine tasting, and I should have looked for an online primer, or something on Saturday before leaving the house. The thought didn’t occur to me until we were at the first winery and I was looking at a pitcher of water, a little bucket and a basket of wafers, and thinking Oh crap, I’m gonna screw this up.

What I had been thinking about before leaving was whether I had enough time for a pedicure, or if I could find some non-frumpy closed-toed shoes to go with my capris. It was going to be warm, and I am woefully undergroomed for late spring.

I ended up procrastinating enough that I had to get in the car with ugly toes and no idea whether I’d stick out as a total outsider: beer girl on a wine tour.

Well, crap. That's not PBR.
Well, crap. That’s not PBR.

I’ve seen people thoughtfully twirling the stuff around, holding their glasses by the stem and talking about “legs” and “buttery, oaky blah blah.” I’m sure there’s a reason behind the ritual, but my with fondness for grain over grape comes more familiarity with the technique for beer, which consists of (a) popping it open and (b) gulping it down. Bonus points for covering your mouth when you burp (depending upon the crowd), and for making fun of anything with the word “ultra” in the name.

I figured when we made our first stop, I’d just watch the other members of our group and follow their lead. I steeled myself. There’d probably be some hoity-toity sniffing and swishing and spitting and talk about oaky this, that and the other. I actually don’t know what oak smells or tastes like, so I’d probably just say something clever like “oaky dokie,” and promptly get booted out.

IMG_2505As for spitting, that’s just gross. Sure, ridding your mouth of that half-ounce of alcohol in some way other than swallowing might be a good idea if you don’t want to get sloshed before lunch, I suppose, but we had a bus and a driver, and I’ve always been taught that spitting is bad form. I was reluctant to swish either, knowing as I do that anything with a red hue is going to leave me looking like I just got hit in the mouth.

So, I was stuck with just swirling the stuff around my glass – hard enough when you’re trying to keep the wine in there – and sniffing at it once in a while.

Yup, certainly smelled like wine.

Not for wine. A brandy still at Koenig Distillery. In my kitchen, it’d have way more fingerprints.
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Not for wine, either. A field of turnips grown for seed.
Pretty sure this is related to wine, although I didn’t think to ask.

IMG_2539 IMG_2540

Thankfully, there was no swishing or spitting with this group, and therefore no one I was tempted to punch right in the schnoz for their tutorial on how to put a glass up to my face and drink it. I swear, you take a perfectly nice person and put them in a position to tell me how to golf, ski, or drink wine and someone is going to get a solid smack in the pie hole.

The sun was brilliant and the wine was yummy (official wine term, I’m sure), and the company was fun. The fact that I received no impromptu tutorial, nor really any hint of wine etiquette from watching them other than the “over the lips and past the gums” method, means we bonded almost right away.

Midway through our day, we stopped to eat on the deck of one winery with a view of the Snake River Valley. Having visited three wineries before lunch (and with nary a spit) I needed a sandwich and a good sit down. A busload of women filed onto the patio after us, some of whom were wearing headbands with fuzzy, boingy antenna, which was about as hard for me to understand as the chardonnay sunglasses that were also the rage among this group.

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No one was paying attention to my ugly toenails after this lady came along with her wine goggles.

Clearly, these ladies were not among the spitting-of-the-wine-at-tastings either. But they all had nice pedicures.

As one member of our party put it “If I were going to wear wine glasses, I think I’d rather go with the rosé colored.” Clever.

I don’t think I ever figured out what oaky tastes like, but the takeaways for us were a nice date-day with good company, a few bottles of wines with names ranging in sophistication from “Chicken Dinner Red” to Sangiovese, a healthy dose spectacular Idaho sunshine and a halfway decent nap on the way home.

Oh, and proof positive that we remain among the worlds worst selfie-takers.

Why are we so confused?
Better, but can we lose the sunglasses?
No. Just … stop.


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  1. Glad to have found your blog. I absolutely love your sharp writing style.

    \”… take a perfectly nice person and put them in a position to tell me how to golf, ski, or drink wine and someone is going to get a solid smack in the pie hole.\”

    I think we were meant to be sisters.

  2. heh heh Good Post! …I never knew why Idaho has not become THE beer state… we grow lots of barley AND hops here. Instead we are known for Wine and Potatoes? Meh….

  3. When both my husband and I pretty much drank only beer (since I discovered my lovely gluten intolerance I started drinking more wine), we were at a nice restaurant where the waiter started listing all their fancy shmancy wines and I just had to stop him \”We\’re beer drinkers.\” Then the waiter had to go on and on about their fancy shmancy beers so I had to stop him again \”We\’re DOMESTIC beer drinkers.\” We ordered two bud lights. 🙂

    1. Lol kdcol\’s comment made me think of the time I ordered a well-done steak with a Diet Coke at a fancy French restaurant in NYC. The waiter almost fainted.