Enjoying wine without the whine

I am deserving of a good talking-to, internet-based readers, and I readily admit it. I have gone for much too long without a post or even so much as another lame haiku. Many apologies to all. But…I had a good excuse! The Puddinette and I were off on a lovely anniversary trip to French Lick, Indiana, and as much as even she enjoys a good post, there are times when I’m expected to show her my Complete and Undivided Attention.

I even skipped watching college football on Saturday. So you know, it was important.

With my lame excuses thus offered, it is my great pleasure to present…

The Puddintopia Ten-Year Anniversary Trip Spectacular!

Chapter 1, Saturday Afternoon

We arrived Saturday afternoon around 3 o’clock, and checked into the hotel first thing. My feeling has always been that when it comes to hotels, the earlier you can check in, the better. That way, if you’ve been stuck with the room with a sprawling human-like chalk outline or, worse, a comforter with a questionable stain (and really, when it comes to bed linens, what stain isn’t questionable?) there’s plenty of time to find a replacement room that doesn’t give you the willies.

Finding our accommodations not just acceptable but downright nice, the Puddinette and I headed out for our first excursion in town: the local winery and café. We were greeted with something of a surprise when we entered the establishment: the tasting bar.

Now, I’ll admit that I don’t make many winery visits. Usually when someone talks about wine and how great it is, they follow that by trying to cram a big, bold, dry Cab (that’s short for “Cabernet Sauvignon” for the unfamiliar among you like myself) down my beverage tube. The thing is, though, I don’t like dry wines. I know they’re supposed to be all complex and stuff, but to me, they Just.Don’t.Taste.Good.

Don’t hate me because they’re not my thing. I would never look down upon someone who doesn’t like a bright, floral, bitter-as-a-cantankerous-old-man-in-a-porch-swing-complaining-about-the-kids-these-days IPA. Yes, I personally get plenty of happy vibes from of a tasty Bell’s Hopslam, but I can respect those that loathe and fear the bitter beer face. So, along those same lines, cut me slack. Perhaps someday I’ll learn to appreciate the sterols in a rich, dry red, much as I learned to like hoppy beers and broccoli. Until then, no thank you, have you got any dessert wine?

Anyway, so I’m not familiar with the whole winery visit thing. Thus, imagine my surprise when we belly up to the tasting bar and a nice fellow with several tattoos and fire-engine-red Mohawk asks us what we’d like to try. I scan the tasting list looking for prices. I find none. My bewilderment is epic. And then I noticed all the other tasting bar patrons having smallish sips of many varieties with nibbles of cracker in between. Finally, it occurred to me that the tasting samples were free.

Free samples of alcohol?!?! What a country! *wipes a tear*

But like a teenage behind the wheel of a car for the first time, I was noticeably nervous and didn’t want to seem overly-aggressive. No, you can’t try them all, I told myself. That would be irresponsible; rude even. In fact, I bet if you get drunk at the tasting bar, they take your picture and have a caricature artist render it into a cartoon of you with a drowsy look, bubbles around your head, and an empty bottle in both hands. The sketch will then hang forever on the Wall of Shame in the employee lounge.

I limited myself to what I thought was a very respectable four samples. The Puddinette, ever more conscious of not taking advantage, would have stopped at three, but I simply had to try the cherry wine. And the establishment was likely happy that I did because that taste resulted in the purchase of a bottle that is resting happily at this moment in a cabinet at home.

The wife and I had a lovely time sampling sweet wines which were all D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. We then had a smallish snack of Italian bread and toasted ravioli in the café with a glass of the goodness. It was a wonderful time and a great way to start our weekend adventure. Mass props to the vintners, wine makers, or whatever they’re called, and all the other dudes and dudettes that helped us appreciate the liquid grapes at the French Lick Winery.

So then, what did we learn on Saturday afternoon? We learned that sometimes people who want you to buy their alcohol will give you free samples as long as you don’t make it a point to end up like Otis from Mayberry. We also learned that the Puddinette and I both appreciate a yummy sweet wine, something that we’d not realized in our previous decade of marriage. I assure you, though, that this fact will not be lost in the future. The Puddinette rarely reaches for a tipple nowadays, because our life is crazy and making an individual strawberry daiquiri is inconvenient. Now that I know I can simply hand her a glass of rhubarb wine after the kids go to bed, though?

Well….I might just have to invest in some Barry White to go with that.