My mum likes cooking, but not enough to do it sober. That’s why, when Auntie H called to ask what she should bring for dinner, Mum said wine. Auntie H was hesitant; she said she didn’t know anything about wine, so I got on the phone and coached her through it. Well, actually I sat beside the phone gesturing madly while my mum claimed to be just joking about requesting wine. Dammit, we needed that wine, no matter what crazy bottle Auntie H and Uncle B might choose.
We especially needed wine because Mum had committed her annual profligate crime—she’d poured a bottle of LANGA REAL DE ARAGON over the turkey, torturing any liquids-only folk and animals (okay, just me) to suffer the sizzle of quickly evaporating alcohol off the browning poultry as whatever angels inhabit the LBHQ oven greedily guzzled their supposed share. It was horrible, people, but of course you know I’m getting used to it. Apparently it makes good gravy, but that doesn’t make it forgivable.
We did snatch one glass of LANGA REAL DE ARAGON, noting the 90-point Robert Parker accolade it wore around its neck before the cork got popped. Not bad for $13.99—could it be true, or was Parker just hammered when he made the call?
Don’t let my mother do this to you, my fellow inebriates!
It was true. OMG, my fellow inebriates, it was true. LANGA REAL DE ARAGON is crisp and subtle, wafting bright orchard goodness and biscuit notes. Fresh and lively on the palate, this Spanish bubbly deserved to be drunk, not sacrificed to the turkey. Gravy be damned!
Once the sparkling wine was gone I felt very morose. But luckily Auntie H and Uncle B arrived with their two monkeys and not one but TWO, count ‘em, two bottles of wine. Check it out:
Now, if I can only get the bottles open…
Miss P left this sitting on a chair in the living room this morning.
Totally freaky, right? Only two things immediately occurred to me as more frightening:
- Fluffy Bear (currently on hiatus from paranormal activities, but he may just be gathering up steam)
- Being forced to eat asparagus (a recent study supports the long-suspected notion that it cures hangovers—but wouldn’t you rather have a hangover?)
So what the hell is going on with this picture? For quite a while P has been drawing females with flat heads, giant puckery lips, and grim expressions. Perhaps it’s a developmental phase; one of Dad’s colleagues says his own daughters are drawing flat-headed, big-lipped evil princesses too. Whatever the reason, such images are totally scary and therefore good reason to drink a bottle of wine.
Beckoning from the fridge: VINA ESMERALDA TORRES (2011). Billed by our favorite booze-shop consultant as “the best turkey wine” he’s had in the last 20 years, this Spanish offering retails for $13.99 and consists of Moscatel d’Alexandrie (85%) and Gewurztraminer (15%). I am too drunk to put the little diacritics on those varietals, but you know what I mean. Nor do I care whether this wine pairs with turkey, which gets served maybe once or twice a year at LBHQ and invariably demands the sacrifice of a full bottle of sparkling wine to the cooking process—a sickening travesty compounded by the asparagus that may or may not accompany the cooked bird.
At 11.5% alcohol, VINA ESMERALDA isn’t really up to the brain-cell bludgeoning required to erase scary images, bear-directed trauma at the hands of young children, or terrifying paranormal episodes. It won’t erase shit—you really can drink the whole bottle without incident. And you should. Delicate floral aromas waft from the glass as the wine glass starts to sweat, releasing some spice and tropical fruit as it warms slightly. This is a gentle and refreshing wine with almost a hint of effervescence—nothing obnoxious, though, just a suggestion. Off-dry and easy-drinking, VINA ESMERALDA is virtually impossible to keep in your glass.
Needless to say, our bottle is all gone, and sobriety is around the corner again. And OMFG, my fellow inebriates, this freaky picture is still here, staring at me.
My Fellow Inebriates,
Last year my mum caused me spasms of horror by pouring a bottle of Henkell Trocken over the roasting Christmas turkey. (Henkell Trocken is really not for that, people—it’s citrusy and dry with good acidity.) I died inside when she did that, so this year she had a little mercy on me and opted for a dirt-cheap bottle of chardonnay instead.
Gobbling up a hand
I did try to persuade her not to do it at all. But my mother can be very cutting. Her eyes narrowed, and she said, “Sometimes I look at you and suspect you’re inanimate.” Then she opened the oven and poured a bottle of GRAY FOX chardonnay all over the bird.
I did get a small glass before the culinary sacrifice. But I wasn’t optimistic; $6.99 is just about as cheap as wine gets at my local booze shop, and at that price I expect a tastebud offensive, a chorus of plonky mismatched notes with manure and hell-knows-what-else in the background.
So it was a relief to find that GRAY FOX chardonnay tastes like…white grape juice. Really.
With orchard fruitiness dominating the nose and very little of the excessive oak that’s typical of a try-hard California chardonnay, GRAY FOX qualifies as mostly harmless. It won’t make you retch, nor will it appeal to you with complexity and butteriness. At 12% alcohol it sure kicks Welch’s Grape Juice’s ass, yet it seems like too much of a kissing cousin to that kid-friendly beverage. Forgive me, but it doesn’t taste done. Now, you guys know I’m an idiot with a furry mouth and not a ghost of an oenophile’s qualifications, but this wine tastes like it needed to ferment a little longer. It’s grapey, and I’m not sure how intentional that was on the part of the vintner.
I told my mum GRAY FOX would make a good gateway wine for children, only to get the obligatory reminder that I mustn’t encourage irresponsible drinking. So I’ll put it this way: Kids would really like this wine, but don’t give it to them.
But don’t throw it all over a turkey either—OMG, what a waste of alcohol. The fact that my mum thought it made good gravy doesn’t make it okay. But when a sociopathic hausfrau covered in giblets and poultry grease seizes a wine bottle, you just have to let her do her thing.