A wise wine writer once told me, Michelle, on every wine trip there’s an asshole. And if you’re ever on a trip and there’s no asshole? You’re the asshole.
Friends, it is with deep regret that I must report that on a trip this year to (redacted), I was the asshole.
In my defense, it was about 1,000 degrees (Fahrenheit, thank you very much, I do not do the Celsius) and I had been chivvied uphill at high noon three days running with the result that some decidely grandmotherly cankles had blossomed at the bottom of my erstwhile shapely calves.
However, in retrospect it would have been better had I not achieved Full Meltdown Mode, to wit, hissing at one of the hapless tour organizers: “I am sitting in this chair and putting my feet up on another chair and that is non-negotiable!! Do not talk to me! I am in a mood.”
I don’t think I’d been that riled up on the road since some jerk photojournalist from (redacted) tried to strong-arm me out of the last available hotel room in a hurricane-stricken town back in my breaking news days.
As it turned out, I had my little sit-down protest, and eventually cooler heads, temperatures and ankles prevailed and we all kissed and made up.
But it got me thinking. What, really, are the differences between exploring a wine region and covering a natural disaster?
I began to contrast and compare.
Disaster: Get there after grueling journey, usually by air. Best-case Scenario: Blackhawk brimming with handsome military specimens. Worst case: Four-seater flown by a weekend enthusiast. Arrive totally disoriented and — bam! — immediately ushered into news conference with sheriff who fancies himself something of a humorist.
Wine trip: Get there after grueling journey, usually by air. Best-case Scenario: Business Class. Worst case: Babies. Arrive totally disoriented and — bam! — immediately ushered into wine tasting with sommelier who fancies himself something of a humorist.
Disaster: Schedule runs from 7 a.m. to after midnight with regrettably few opportunities for nice quiet lie-down.
Wine trip: Schedule runs from 7 a.m. to after midnight with regrettably few opportunities for nice quiet lie-down.
Disaster: Drink copiously. Often warm beer (power is out) of doubtful provenance served en bouteille.
Wine trip: Drink copiously. Often the finest wines the region has to offer all served at optimal temperature in elegant glassware with scads of information about source and production methods. Wine trip gets the win here, folks.
Disaster: Distinct lack of gin.
Wine trip: Distinct lack of gin.
Disaster: Food = Salvation Army aid truck, pray McDonald’s opens soon if power comes back on, and, man, I would sell my soul for a plate of broccoli.
Wine trip: Food = Michelin-starred cuisine, pray you’ll have a chance to slip into a McDonald’s soon if you can do it without the foodies noticing, and, man, I would sell my soul for a plate of broccoli.
Disaster: Return home with a full quiver of war stories, a bag full of odd souvenirs (Really? Did I really pinch a hanger from the (redacted) hotel? I’m ashamed of myself.) and a fat pile of overtime pay. Mmm-mm sweet overtime pay.
Wine trip: Return home with a full quiver of war stories, a bag full of odd souvenirs (Really? Did I really buy a “Frankfurt” T-shirt? Even though my visit consisted of nothing more than running ‘twixt Terminals A and Z of the Frankfurt airport? I’m ashamed of myself.) and a fat pile of …
Somebody get me a disaster to cover — stat!