ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY (2016)—even if the kids didn’t drive you to it, you deserve it

My fellow inebriates,

Every so often, Mum and I go to our local booze shop (I ride in her purse) and pick out bottle of wine. I salivate as she pays with her debit card. Usually, that wine becomes an accompaniment to Netflix after the kids finally consent to go to bed. Then… ahhhh!

Today, however, my mother bought—in addition to a bottle of ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY (2016)—a turquoise gift bag. Immediately I knew this wine was not for us; it was for Miss V’s long-suffering grade 5 teacher.

Mondavi private selection

You’d think my mother would have bought two of these bottles so we could also drink to V’s graduation from elementary school—but no luck. You see, my dad hates Chardonnay, so my mother and I would have to drink a whole bottle by ourselves, and that never ends well. So she demurred.

Fortunately I can still share tasting notes because my Nana—who is way cooler than my mother—has brought this wine to our house before. ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY is smooth with ripe fruit aromas and moderate acidity. As you sip, you’ll detect pineapple, green apple, mango, and vanilla. It also has a touch of that butteriness that Chardonnay freaks love.

If I were a teacher I’d drink a bottle of this every night. So (presumably) now Miss V’s teacher has an extra.

You really can’t pay teachers enough, as Breaking Bad taught all of us so long ago.

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TRIVENTO AMADO SUR WHITE WINE (2012)—Good, but not quite good enough for V’s teacher

My Fellow Inebriates,

Once a month each kid in V’s kindergarten class gets to be the Special Helper. What the Special Helper’s tasks are we’re not sure; all we know is that Special Helper Day is not to be missed. It’s the one day of the month on which V will spring from bed, choose her very best outfit, cooperate all morning, and voluntarily leave the house at 8:15 without thinking of some dramatic objection at 8:14.

Special Helper Day requires some prep, which V does without urging. The Special Helper carries a Mystery Bag, preferably decorative or fancy. Into this bag goes a Mystery Object of the Special Helper’s choosing, along with a sheet of paper.

mystery bag blank

V didn’t decide until the morning of her Special Helper Day what she would put in the bag. Or at least she didn’t mention what she had in mind. But she had the bag chosen and the sheet filled out within five minutes of waking. In the past she’s brought her bead collection, her Chihuahua, various rocks, bugs—that kind of thing. For V, a found object is the best kind of Mystery Bag item, so we should have known she’d select the special piece of tree branch she’d found a couple of weekends before in Campbell Valley Regional Park. That’s what went in the bag this time.

It was 8:14, a time V has the uncanny ability to intuit each morning despite a nebulous understanding of clocks—a time Mum fears because it so often occasions some kind of hissyfit about hair-brushing or boots or which jacket fits which weather, and so on. So when Mum saw the Mystery Bag item she just sighed and went with it. Anything to get out the door.

mystery bag filled in

That’s a “g.”

So… the reason V likes the tree branch she put in the bag so much is that it’s shaped like a gun. When V first found the branch she went nuts for it and thereafter fought with P and two friends for possession of it throughout the day. P and V don’t have any toy guns, so the tree-branch gun was a huge find for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If Mum had any qualms about delivering V to school with a gun, she did her best to be preemptive. “Hope this isn’t controversial,” she said to V’s teacher as V handed the bag over.

“Now I’m intrigued,” said Mrs. R.

And Mum beat it out of there. We forgot about the gun until 2:30, when V emerged from class (Special Helper always leaves first.) She was beaming. Whatever the hell they do on Special Helper Day, it must be freaking amazing.

“How was your Special Helper Day?”

“It was awesome!”

“Did the kids like the Mystery Bag item?”

“Yes,” V said. “Except I wasn’t allowed to play with it.”

Fair enough. Mum’s not a total twit. Taking a gun to school—even a tree-branch gun—is pretty tasteless, and if the only downside was that V couldn’t play with it, and the rest of her Special Helper Day was still awesome, then Mrs. R is pretty awesome too. A more officious teacher might have sent V to the office, arranged a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the gun, or even confiscated it. But if what V describes is accurate, at the moment V pulled the gun out of the Mystery Bag, Mrs. R had to stifle a laugh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We should buy Mrs. R a bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR TORRONTES/VIOGNIER/CHARDONNAY (2012),” I said. “It has the rich lushness of Argentina’s signature white wine grape with playful Viognier tartness and disciplined Chardonnay structure.”

Trivento amado sur torrontes“Nope, not good enough,” Mum said. “Mrs. R’s getting CUMA.”

Well, kick me in the nads, I thought the CUMA was for us. But Mum’s right—the TRIVENTO AMADO SUR isn’t good enough for Mrs. R. Sure, it’s a tasty wine but it’s not quite as luscious and enveloping as CUMA. Its small percentages of Viognier and Chardonnay, while strategic, nonetheless operate against the hedonistic fruitiness of the Torrontes, reining it in if you will. If you’re not a complete hedonist, you might appreciate this. This wine has excellent structure and acidity, notes of mango, melon, and jasmine, and a lingering finish. It leaves you, somehow, wanting more—a little more lushness and depth, and more follow-through on the fragrance. Not a disappointment, but not quite in the same league as CUMA.

Incidentally, by the time I finished writing this, my mum and her friend L had polished off the whole bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR. Holy crap, my fellow inebriates, they really sneaked it past me. L is the friend whose kids accompanied P and V when they found the tree-branch gun in the park. L finds me creepy but says: “At least you don’t have button eyes.” To which I respond: “At least I didn’t let my kid take a gun to school.”

ASTROLIQUOR for February 1–6—What the stars say you should drink!

My Fellow Inebriates,

Here’s your booze horoscope:

Aries, this week offers you the chance to ditch a couple of people who’ve been bugging you. You could do a Facebook friend cull, which wouldn’t require any diplomacy, or you could behave like a typical Aries and pick a fight. Totally up to you. Meanwhile, mind your pennies, hit your boss up for a raise, and ignore anybody’s advice, no matter where it comes from (this space excepted). And if your boss says “Pack your things,” that’s the time to throw a punch. BTW, your drink is punch: Hawaiian Punch with Jack Daniel’s.

Taurus, your intuition is right on the money this week. In fact, people are asking you for advice. Now’s the time to start your own psychic counselling service. Did you know Sylvia Browne charges $850 a reading, and she thought Mitt Romney would win the U.S. election? Holy crap, you don’t even have to be right more than 50% of the time to make a shitload of money “helping” people—and the stars say you should do it! They also say you need a mint daiquiri, so get out the rum and Cointreau.

Always sociable, Gemini, you will have more than your share of interesting discussions this week—mostly about other people’s dirty laundry. Amazingly, no one is shocked by your sordid questions. (Are they all as loaded on Hennessey and peach schnapps as you?) You have a gift for looking someone right in the eye and asking, “Did you ever get that mole on your ass removed? It looked just like Rick Santorum.”

Cancer, the week starts with a financial windfall—possibly the Lotto Max jackpot or a massive prize home. As delighted as you’ll be, you’ll finally have to confront the question: “Now that I can buy as much alcohol as I want, whenever I want, and I don’t have to work for money, nor do I even have to leave my show home … will I just spend every day ripped out of my head?” You might want to dry out for a week and think about it. (Or not.)

Leo, your mind turns to sunshine and debauchery, which always calls for tropical blender drinks. As you frappé rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and a banana, you think of all sorts of raunchy ideas. Not about your partner, though, so it’ll be an interesting week. You may be thinking, Well, it’s fine for me because I don’t have a partner.  But the stars are not here to help you; they’re here to mess your shit up, so your raunchy ideas will be about animals or siblings.

Virgo, this is a good week for contacting people and reheating old friendships. You are coming across as less superficial and more trustworthy than usual. You feel a genuine urge to take care of others—but be careful if you’re buying rounds at the bar; too much generosity could empty your wallet. Better to invite a few good friends over for dinner champagne and vodka. Add some cranberry juice; the stars say you have a bladder infection.

Libra, you’ll be assailed by technical glitches this week. Expect trouble from your cell phone, tablet, iPod, vibrator—you name it. Be especially cautious about downloading porn; experts at LBHQ tell me that’s the numero uno way to catch a virus. If you have to spend all your money cleaning your computer (and that means the keyboard too—use a towel), you’ll have nothing left in your bar but vermouth (which you could drink with some bitters, but wouldn’t some gin be nice too?).

With a headful of Chardonnay, you’re not going to come up with any good answers this week, Scorpio. Ask friends for solutions to life’s problems. They may surprise you with their innovative thinking and/or just camp out at your house and finish your Southern Comfort. And the stars? They’re random as all hell for you: Write a long, rambling email to your oldest friend. Do not ride the bus at all between now and Valentine’s Day or you will certainly get involved with a weirdo.

Sagittarius, you’ll have the impulse to visit an old Leo friend—someone who tolerates you about once a year. Once upon a time you two hooked up, then things got weird for years, but now all is cool…at least unless you start slamming beers and 80-proof vodka together. Keep your drink total under, say, eight, and your meeting will be uneventful. BTW, the stars think you should go to the gym.

Professionalism continues to take a backseat, Capricorn, as you lash out at co-workers over a shared project. Try giving them some space instead of pushing your opinions. At the very least this will win you some respect for your maturity. At best you’ll get to take credit for the project without having done much work. Nice going! Spend your bonus on rum and triple sec.

Aquarius, traffic is out to get you this week. Don’t do any extra driving or deviate from your habitual route. Likewise, dark clouds are gathering at work. Keep a low profile; you’re good at being invisible when you need to be. There are nasty co-workers out to get you (OMG! The stars are paranoid!). All of which means you should save that big ol’ box of cheap white wine until AFTER you get safely home.

Pisces, invite your friends and family over for a nice home-cooked meal. FYI, this does not mean groundhog or raccoon or possum. Spend a little money to make a pleasant meal for your guests. Your generosity will thrill them and it will be good for you too. Who knows? Maybe they will show up with armloads of Jagermeister, rum, and DeKuyper Razzmatazz, making your outlay for supermarket ingredients a good investment.