I live in a very well known area of one of the "wine countries" in northern California. Long ago, my husband and I used to go wine tasting, take family and friends to wineries and then...stopped. Our palates became very educated; our wallets never became fat enough to purchase that which we tasted and knew was wonderful. Over the years, we experimented and discovered what would work for us on a daily basis. Yes, I am one of those people who support the theory that daily consumption of wine, particularly red, is good for the heart, body and soul. Saturday, I was taken on a wine-tasting adventure that was most delightful, long and...well, delightful!
This is an adventure I have long abandoned because like so many other things these days, it has become an outing for the "elite"; the more affluent portion of the populace that has taken over our little town over the past ten to fifteen years or so. It used to be that any one could walk into a winery, sample a taste or two, say many thanks and be on their way. Now, more often than not, a tasting fee is required and it is almost expected that the purchase of a bottle of at least one bottle of wine will be made before bidding the tasting room host or hostess thank you and farewell. Now, anyone who has visited one knows full well that the price of a bottle of wine in a tasting room is outrageous. All wineries are counting on well-heeled visitors who have been tasting the day away and will purchase a bottle or two (or perhaps a case) without a thought to their budget at each one. Alas, I know an excellent wine when I taste one but have become quite comfortable with wines in the $5 to $8 range and more often, the former. There are a lot of very nice little wines out there that are very affordable and they work for me. But, as usual, I digress.
It was to nice to be picked up from home, settled down in the back seat and driven from one winery to the next for an entire afternoon. Pure bliss. This was a young couple, the husband works with my husband and had often suggested going wine tasting together, who shared the day and wineries they had visited previously with us. We were the more knowledgeable couple; they are relatively new to the delights of wine and it made for a happy foursome. They are incredibly young; late twenties, I think. We are middle-aged but in age only and surely not in mind or spirit or why else would they choose to spend a precious Saturday with us? It was lovely to be chauffeured around from one winery to the next, asked every once in awhile, "are you having a good time?". As if it really mattered to them and, of course, it probably didn't but it was nice to hear anyway. Yeah, I was having a hell of a good time and could have quit after the first winery we stopped at where business was slow and the personable young man behind the tasting bar poured generous tastes from the open bottles and spirited (!) us away to sample one barrel taste after another. It was all good; even the Pinot Noir which I never drink and do not like. After eight to ten generous tastes, one's palate becomes numb and I challenge anyone to differentiate between the best Zin out there there and plonk!
Before heading for home, we stopped back at the winery where the generous tasting room employee worked and bought a bottle of 2002 Barbera to tuck away until our anniversary next month. We purposely planned an easy-fix dinner because after a day of wine tasting, the thought of dealing with creating an involved dinner is rather...overwhelming. It's not that we arrived back home intoxicated; more like drifting along on a nice little wine buzz. All in all, it was a wonderful way to while away a gray, rainy Saturday in northern California.