If Not Winter, Then Wine

How one writer brings summer into her life -- with red wine

| November / December 2005

I'm not one to welcome winter. From January to April, you will likely find me slumped in a corner of my drafty apartment, eating the orange-liqueur-centered, chocolate-coated dregs of my stocking stuffer, screaming for spring.

Which brings me to drunken denial. A weekend or two of inebriated revelry is essential, I think, if you want to survive the months of snowshoeing home in the white-flecked dark. That said, I don't recommend getting boozed out just on whatever. You won't catch me grimly drinking screwdrivers in hopes of conjuring up a turquoise wind and pale blue sea.

Wine, however. Reddest wine. That always does the trick. I will never be the sort of grinning apple-cheeked anomaly who greets the cold with open arms. But summer spilling down my throat in spiked red rivulets, well, I'll give that a chance in hell.

Understand, I'm no wine connoisseur. I mean, I can swirl and sniff and sip like the best of charlatans. I have drunkenly dabbled, taken a course or two, flipped through some magazines, pretended to listen as my father, my professor, the waiter went on and on about 'tannins' and 'legs.' I tell people I can smell a note of this and a hint of that. And I always agree with men in bow ties. But if I'm being honest, good wine usually leaves me either speechless or estranged from the usual buffet of adjectives coveted by wine experts. I'd always rather drink than talk. To me, sun-splashed, blood-colored epiphanies born of blind excess are the very essence not only of wine tasting, but of summer. At any rate, it's certainly my idea of a damn good time.


I was all ready, having left work early on some excuse I can't believe they swallowed. I lit candles. I put on French accordion music. I placed my two blossomy Beaujolais before me. I poured the first, a 2003 Georges Duboeuf, into the fattest glass I could find. And I drank. I drank until the music was red and the candlelight was blinding. I drank until the dusk was the dawn, until the moon was the sun, until the branches rattling against my window were green trees swaying. I drank until I was a blubbery, blue creature no longer, but a babe sauntering down some delightfully rustic French road. I drank deep. If ever Lolita were liquid, this would be she at her most innocently lascivious: cat-eyed, in short shorts, sucking a lollipop beneath the widest of skies.The other Beaujolais, the 2001 Moulin ? Vent, was an altogether more shadowy creature. A toothsome old woman who lives alone at the end of the road, in a dark house. More than likely with cats. She proved to be the more morose sister of my first Beaujolais; the fat friend, if you will, the hairier spinster. Alittle peppery in the mouth and ropy in the throat. I liked her, though, with her ruddy complexion. We spoke long in her living room before I passed out on her couch.