People watching is great sport, whether at the beach or a societal event attended by well-heeled patrons of good causes. Last night I attended the Montgomery County Women’s Center’s Wine Fest, their annual fund-raising event supporting the good services they provide for battered women in my county. Always a good opportunity to observe human behavior, the Wine Fest also features food samples from local restaurants and a tasting selection of fine wines sometimes in the thematic way of last year’s Texas vineyards, or simply like last night’s broad samplings of Merlots, Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Ports, and more.
While I’m not a wine connoisseur, I know enough about tasting to understand the protocols involved. So it’s interesting to watch the rich and wannabe-rich patrons go through the rituals of sampling the goodness of the grape. Some properly swirl the wine first, smell the fragrance, then swish a small amount in their mouths. More interesting, however, was the one gentleman who I’ll aptly name Bubba. With obvious intent to quench his thirst, Bubba took the glass and downed the whole sample in one swallow. He then looked around the table, either looking for another, more proper-sized sample or perhaps seeking a lime, for he downed that glass as though knocking back a Tequila shot. Each to his own, I say.
Equally interesting were the reactions of nearly everyone tasting wine, whether liking the vino or not. Their typical reaction: “Mmmm….nice (or good or excellent).” I kept waiting for someone to comment “Um, this might taste better on my salad than in a wine glass” for those wines still a bit young to be entering the world now. There was also the plight of one wine merchant who could not attend yet still offered a table of selections. Women’s Center staffers pitched in to serve the absent viners wares, but it was obvious they were clueless about wine. When patrons asked what wines were offered, the fill-ins responded, “We have red, white, and bubbly stuff.” But that didn’t stop anyone, since by evening’s end all that merchant’s bottles were empty, with me doing my part to help on the “red.”
As usual there were good and bad wines, and I admit to visiting one particular table three times to sample the same Merlot from South Australia, which I thought was delightful (the fact that the wine steward was very cute had *nothing* to do with this…purely the merits of the wine). You know you’ve connected with a wine steward at a tasting when they eventually offer to pour you a whole glass instead of the usual small sampling. Unfortunately, by that time I’d hit my limit of wine and dared not accept her generous offer. Noticeably missed from the year before were some interesting fruit wines made from raisins, blueberrys, or black raspberrys. Sounds strange, but were nice dessert wines.
By the time I left and headed to Starbucks for some sobering black brew (both in taste and price), I’d sampled enough wines and taken enough pictures until next year’s event. I just prayed I would forget my wine tasting protocols at the next stop and not swirl, sniff, taste, then obliquely comment about the Columbian beans’ bouquet and aftertaste. I wouldn’t want to lose my status as a regular there and be thought pretentious. I’ll save that for the next wine fest.