Murder and pee in the vineyards
Each month, Wired magazine features a front-of-book item titled, "What's Inside," in which they break down the chemical components that make up various products. In the current issue, it's red wine.
Some of the ingredients were to be expected (ethanol, tannins), though some sounded like erstwhile CIA psychedelic experiments (malvidin 3-glucoside, tyramine, 2-methoxy-pyrazine). Though these chemcials are all naturally occurring, would anyone really notice if someone slipped in a little somethin'-somethin' from the MK-Ultra program? Yes, but they wouldn't be able to talk about it until the next morning when the flowers stopped singing to them.
What Wired failed to list in its breakdown of our beloved beverage were what we might call the alchemical ingredients of wine - the magic, the passion the love ... the corpse buried in the vineyard. Yes, "terror and terroir" gags aside, you and I both know there is a statistical probability of a body being deep-sixed in someone's vineyard somewhere.
After a 150 years in the wine biz, Sonoma has certainly seen its share of homocides, so it's not really that difficult to imagine that the fertile soils of our wine country have been turned by at least one wayward shovel. Think about all the dynastic struggles, the obvious motives and ready access to vineyards (leave the Plaza in any direction and you'll hit one within half a mile). Yep, that dark note you can't put your finger on in the tasting room could very likely be a little dash of death. Yum.
This is not a unique thought, plenty of jerk-offs before me have mulled the notion, with or without criminal intent. However, I say it's high-time for "CSI: Sonoma" to get its butt in gear and get out here with a couple of bloodhounds and maybe even a psychic with a divining rod for the dead. One set of skeletal human remains and we can get a lock on the emerging goth market. Our local sommeliers could start asking if one "cares for a little film noir with your pinot noir?" The term "Sonomacide" will become a staple of true-crime books and the band name of alt-rock darlings Death Cab for Cutie will finally make some sense.
Of course, learning the extent to which one's mouvedre is macabre might prove lethal to the wine industry as much as the poor schmuck who's flesh is its fertilizer. Perhaps we should concentrate on other secret ingredients - like pee.
Don't act so surprised. One out of five Sonomans have peed in a vineyard - most out of necessity, some out of sport. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a triumphal recollection of some gang's "crazy night" that featured urinating outdoors in a vineyard. Oddly, it's mostly been women. Sure, dudes like to pee outside to affirm the fact that they can with the wildest of ease. A dude would pee in the wind and expect an answer if Bob Dylan told him so. However, it's the ladies, usually after hitting a few tasting rooms as a bridal send-off, that are most apt to scamper off and rain rivulets of used wine into Sonoma soil. There are several possible reasons for this, which range from the biological to the sociological, with a lot of drunkeness in between. Suffice it to say, if one in five have done it, five out of five have drunk that wine. Surely the wiseguys at Wired can assure us that the pee will not express itself in the wine in another issue. That said, if terms like "cadaver" and "urinal" creep into our tasting notes, remember, you heard it here first.
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Daedalus Howell is even more puerile at DHowell.com.