A wine master is able to identify the vineyard from which a wine came simply by smelling it.

This factoid came directly from our affable tour guide as he shepherded Dave, me and a few other vacationers around the Pine Ridge Winery last week.  Our group was obviously impressed with the level of sophistication required to perform such a feat.  Yet, I could immediately relate to it.  You see, when driving with my family in our mini-van, I can always tell which brother farted — simply by the smell.  Like the wine master.  I smiled at the tour guide, silently acknowledging an unspoken appreciation between us.  Then I smiled at Dave who I know was incredibly grateful that my appreciation remained exactly that – unspoken.

Welcome to Napa boys and girls.

It was Day 2 of our 3 day jaunt around wine country – a magical place for people far more sophisticated and tons wealthier than us.  Any time we start to feel a little too high on the hog, we will need only to recall sipping our fourth (or fifth) glass of red wine and not tasting any difference from the first, despite the fact that it was three times as expensive.  Personally, tt was an outstanding opportunity to nurture my inferiority complex which I have neglected for some time.

Full disclosure:  The Rodney Dangerfield complex was largely of our own doing.  The people of Napa couldn’t have been nicer.  No one kicked us out of the art galleries or the tasting rooms.  They answered our questions with no expectations and plenty of warm smiles.  But we knew that we would never really consider the “bargain” oil painting by a new artist priced at $3,900 nor would we order the minimum six bottles of $45 Cabernet for shipping back home.  We were imposters, pretending to appreciate the hint of blackberry, dark chocolate and coffee in the aroma of the Zinfandel while secretly wondering if those were actual ingredients.

My romantic notion of sipping wine with a backdrop of gorgeous vineyards for three days straight was quickly tempered by the economic reality that we couldn’t afford to pay $50 per vineyard for such tasting privileges more than once.  This fact coupled with the physiological truth that one can only drink so much wine before starting to feel rather ill, dictated our itinerary.  Still, the time we spent was lovely.

  • We visited an entire two vineyards and learned a bit about wine making.
  • We had awesome burgers and shakes at Taylor’s Refresher Roadside stop.
  • Dave found a brew pub; I found peach cobbler.
  • We talked – and I asked him ALL my deep questions.

Not only did we find opportunities to enjoy ourselves while hobnobbing above our means, but it was a reminder how happy and comfortable we are at those means on an everyday basis.  I really do prefer the $10 bottles of wine with the screw tops and the cool labels that Dave brings home from Total Wine each month.  And I would most definitely trade three days in Napa tasting rooms for an evening with friends, sharing that cheap wine with refrigerator art in the background.

Wine to us is not so much about what you are drinking and more about who you are drinking it with. Call it sour grapes if you must but I think it’s about appreciating the finer things in life.  To all those who share glasses of cheap wine with us — on a regular basis or a special occasion – and to those we look forward to doing so with someday:


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