It’s Wine Time!

Hangover

Someday’s one wakes up and just drags the rest of the waking hours yawning, and desiring sleep even after eight hours of uninterrupted slumber. It is now four hours since hauling myself out of bed to take on a new day. Finally, it occurred to me that drinking a bottle of wine followed by a vodka chaser may not have been such a good idea last eve. When will I learn that mixing booze is not smart? Or maybe that too much booze is not healthy either.

Sunday, October 15, 1961

Writing should be easy today, but it isn’t. My fingers feel heavy and reluctant to find the keys. My mind seems to be in low gear struggling to climb the hill without any power. I need to downshift and get some torque going or I’ll never get to the peak. A memory pops into mind of my first long car trip in nineteen sixty-two when I drove a Volkswagen Bug across country. It was dark and I was tired, and I was passing through the high Sierras somewhere in northern California. This was before Interstate travel and limited grades. I screamed down hills at full speed headed toward pegging the speedometer at seventy-five. All thirty-nine horses were galloping full speed. Then, the tiny bug reached the vale and began the ascent of the next endless hill that extended into the black sky beyond the reach of the headlights. Passing anybody in the way until the speed dropped to sixty, then fifty, then down shifting into third gear to keep the engine pulling at max effort, then down to second and eventually into first gear and that is where the little bug that could stayed roaring away at full throttle and straining at fifteen mph eventually dropping to five miles per hour toward the apex. It seemed like eternity before reaching the crown, and the process reversed shifting through the gears to pick up speed and then bottoming at max speed before losing velocity up the next hill.

That was a long night driving that road, but I made it through in good shape because I knew how to shift gears and change with the need. Eventually, the little bug that could made it across America and back to Illinois. I learned why I wanted a car with more horsepower on that trip, thirty-nine horses is not enough to pull a lightweight car like the bug up those endless long hills. My gas mileage was great, but I paid for it with time and effort shifting gears. I didn’t learn my lesson too quickly however because I traded my bug for a high powered forty horsepower VW Karmann Ghia.

Hangovers are the body’s way of sending the owner a message about the dangers of pushing life limits too far. Although I am enjoying the solitude of this day my body is screaming at me with a warning to sl-o-o-ow down. My heart pump is working overtime trying to transport oxygen to all the sister components needed to sustain life. No doubt the fluid of life flowing within is also altered with too much alcohol and thus is not as effective as it could be. Brain power is severely limited and response to suggestion is sluggish. Like the little bug that could I feel like I am roaring at max effort to climb an imaginary hill that is seemingly endless. Hopefully, as the day wears on the crest will appear and the effort required to climb will ease a bit.

In the meantime, I don’t think I am going to drink like that again.

For Winers Only

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I Guess I’m a Winer

Is it five o’clock yet?

 

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Put A Cork In It

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It finally happened, my cork container filled to overflowing. Can you guess how many corks are in this cagey little container?

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This clever wire formed barrel came to me as a gift a couple of Christmases past, and I have been busily engaged in selecting, and consuming the nectar of grapes fermented to perfection. It is no secret (in fact, nothing in my life is secret as one can tell by reading this blog) that I love red wine. It doesn’t matter what kind of red it is. Cabernet, Merlot, Syraz, Malbec, Pinot Moir, Chianti, you name it, I drink it. I listed them in order of my preference. So if you are looking for gift ideas, anything with one of those names on the label will be graciously received and consumed by me. If the color is not red then the game changes a bit. I also imbibe Riesling (Late Harvest) Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of my favorite. It’ll come to me after my brain cells wake up and actually begin working for a living.

Although I enjoy a full-bodied rich Cabernet from Napa Valley the most, I don’t always afford that level of wine. Most of the time, I limit my purchase to a max of seven dollars, with the average per bottle cost coming in around six dollars. I am on a fixed income you know, and I must spend judiciously.

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The number of corks in the container doesn’t tell the entire story, because it does not count the times I drink with my friends at their homes, or in a restaurant. I don’t enjoy drinking in a restaurant as well because my sluggish brain goes into hyper drive when it registers a per glass price that exceeds my average per bottle price. I keep getting a little voice in my head that says “Go home and drink you dummy, it is cheaper.” It wouldn’t be so bad except the brain goes into a loop and I get the message over and over.

On some nights, the buzz is better than on others. I haven’t determined if it is because the choice had a high alcohol content or if the volume did it for me. One thing I do know is that any wine will make me high quickly on an empty stomach, so I always order my wine served with the meal.

I have a couple of friends who make their own wine and have been nice enough to share their product with me. I have to say that they are pretty good wine makers. One of them has grapes shipped to his home from California, the other buys grape juices. The one who crushes his own grapes produces the limit allowed by law. He is Italian and he shares with his entire family. The other, produces less than a hundred bottles a year for his own consumption.

I thought about making wine many years ago, but chickened out for fear of failure. My mother bottled grape juice that she made from Concord grapes grown in her garden. One year, a very loud bang awakened my dad from his evening nap in front of the TV. He jumped out of his chair and looked outside to see what happened. He saw nothing but his own breath. The night air was at zero, and there was not a soul on the street. He continued looking for the source of the noise, and discovered his basement turned purple. One of Mom’s juice bottles, which she stored on a shelf behind his bar, fermented and blew up. The idea of an explosion in my house caused me to stay away from becoming a vintner, but I am extremely happy with the arrangement I have devised for my self, and love sampling the wines of many vintners from around the world.

The cage has 192 corks in it. The estimated value of the wine represented by those corks is $1152. Not bad for an old guy on a pension. Corks are another subject. For many years wine was kept in the bottle by stuffing a cylinder of a squeaky-rubbery substance known as “cork.” Cork was readily available and makes an excellent seal. What I never knew is that cork is the outer bark of a cork oak tree. As the world grows in population and the wine consumption increases, and the number of cork oak trees remains the same, cork becomes scarce. Trees don’t like it when their protective covering gets stripped off. To solve the cork shortage problem, a group of people got together and drank some very good wine. After the buzz was on they dreamed up a plastic solution. Today, they make corks of a compressible plastic foam encased with a thin plastic sheath. It does just as good a job as cork, and is more available than cork. Lower cost wines will use plastic corks, while the higher end wines still use real cork for stoppers, and really cheap wines use twist off metal caps. The twist offs are very easy to open and I prefer them to the corky types. I have broken a half-dozen cork removers and still struggle with pulling the damn things out of the bottle. My wife says that is a good thing because it slows down my consumption.

The name of the white  wine that escaped my memory is Chardonnay. I had to look it up. Evidently, the brain cells associated with remembering white wines were lost after I finished my last glass of the stuff.

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