Transitioning from hemp-woven stresses of S.F. to new in Sonoma
The Accidental Vinophile
Dave Karraker / by Paul Rattay Photography
(Dave Karraker is a comedian, writer and marketer who splits his time between San Francisco and Sonoma. The only son of two national park service rangers (yes, he did go to Grand Canyon High School), he can be found lazing by the pool with his husband Paul and wife Lola, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, or cruising Sonoma in his 1961 Thunderbird convertible.)
I bought a house in Sonoma as an escape from the organic, range-free, hemp-woven stresses of San Francisco. In just an hour, give or take (not including the required pilgrimage to pray at the altar of In and Out Burger in Tiburon), I could be in laid-back Sonoma, or Slow-noma, as many locals call it.
What I didn’t realize is that life in Sonoma comes with a new set of stresses: The fear of running into Guy Fieri. Striving to out glam Deborah Emery (not possible, by the way). Trying to plan my life around the Temelec senior’s community garage sale. Perhaps the hardest part of being a new Sonoma resident has to do with the lifeblood of the Valley itself – the wine.
As a resident of Sonoma, even part-time, there is an expectation that you know a lot about wine. All of a sudden, people hand you the wine list at restaurants, expecting you to select a liquid gem that pairs well with foie gras-infused risotto nestled on baby arugula with a saffron foam (can we be done with the foams already chefs?). So, what you find yourself doing is trying to fake it to save face. But, not to worry. There are a few tried and true techniques to selecting wine that will make people think you and Robert Parker were lovers in the early 70s:
No to Critters: You may be tempted, but don’t select any wine with a critter on the label, no matter how cute. Yes, this includes koalas and kittens. The only exception to this rule is if the critter is “leaping.” In this instance, you are in safe territory.
Yes to Chateaus: Chateaus on labels scream class and sophistication. And remember, a barn is only a chateau in West Virginia.
Romanticize It: Always have a back story ready to go. “Judy and I discovered this little wine in Italy while searching for an antique baptismal urn to use as a washbasin in our guest bathroom.”
Sniff the Cork: I have no idea what this is for, but it looks great. But, a word of warning: sniffing a screw top is nothing more than troubling.
Swirl, Swirl, Swirl: When in doubt, swirl like a madman. Nothing says wine expert like a good swirl. Of course, that is until you swirl so hard you shoot your wine over all of your fellow diners.
Talk It up: After your first taste, talk up all of the blackberry, tobacco, fresh cut grass and unicorn horn you are detecting. This will make your friends think you have a very advanced palate, because all they are tasting is red wine.
Master these techniques, wine novice, and you too can appear to be an expert vinophile. That is, of course, until someone asks you the difference between Petit Syrah and Petit Verdot. Then you are screwed.
For more from Dave Karraker go to www.davekarraker.com. Send emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org