PASO CREEK ZINFANDEL (2010)—Restoring you after, if not during, that playdate

My Fellow Inebriates,

Miss P has a friend (A) over for a playdate, so we animals are mimicking that famous ET scene and playing statues. This might be overkill; at 6 years old, she and her friend would probably eschew stuffies anyway in favor of some vapid online game whose object is to “make the nerdy girl pretty.”

My mum doesn’t know how this evil game came to P’s attention, although she suspects a particular classmate, friend B—the one who introduced Justin Bieber (“Beaver”) and who wants P to join her after-school cheerleading and beauty pageantry groups. This is the reason friend A has been invited over but not (“never!”) friend B.

OMG! OMFG!!!

My parents are realizing, though, that whatever control you exert over your kids’ friend choices when they’re tiny drops precipitously with the onset of school. As soon as you start doing drop-off playdates—and unless you’re a saint you know you want to—you consign your kid for several hours at a time to the unknown. Who knows what the hell those crazy people are feeding your kid, telling your kid, asking your kid, showing your kid, saying in front of your kid…

And that, no doubt, is what friend A’s mother is asking herself after dropping her child at our messy house, with its yardful of random unidentifiables, its imposing kluge stereo which, for all she knows, could have live wires sticking out everywhere, and my mother answering the door with an apology for not having vacuumed because V won’t let her (for a month—is that even credible?). Never mind the wild bears playing statues on the bookshelves, our hairy asses blocking her from reading worrisome titles.

Ken’s not playing statues; he wants you to see his junk.

But at least we’re not drunk. True, it’s only 4:00pm, but in some households (and if I had my druthers) we’d be throwing up already. With hard-thrumming rain like today’s, a nice hearty zin like PASO CREEK (2010) would be perfect. I don’t know if friend A is used to her parents breaking out the booze immediately after school, but who knows? You just never know with playdate kids. Maybe it would make her feel at home if we pulled the cork right now. At 15% alcohol, this Zinfandel has “playdate” written all over it—or at least recovery from same.

The label features a freaky-looking little owl, the kind that can do a 360° head spin. This is a boozy wine with a bold nose. You might want to decant it to give that owl a chance to settle down, if you can delay gratification while being overcome by earthy redolence. Swish this deep garnet liquid around and you get berries, plums, and black pepper. Waiting half an hour does pay off with this wine; the flavors are deeply concentrated and need a bit of oxygen to fully strut their stuff.

By the time you finally sip PASO CREEK you may well be having conniptions, what with three little girls screaming around the house playing dress-up and this voluptuous wine seducing you from the decanter. The sip is big and robust, delivering lush berries and plums while maintaining good balance. Weighty and palate-coating, PASO CREEK has a lengthy finish, much the way little girls’ happy shrieks echo in your ears after they’ve gone to bed. It’s boozy, yummy, and worth the $18.

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