And to all a good wine
Wine Country through rosé-colored glasses
Last year, I wrote that my annual Christmas column is “something of a literary fruitcake” given its proven shelf-life and the fact that, like traditional fruitcake recipes, it’s soaked in alcohol. Many readers, however, decided to mistake this pithy observation as a reference to its author (cue the sad trombone). One went so far as to send a fruitcake in the shape of my initials with a note that read, “May your life in letters be forever fruity” (I’m resting my head on what remains of the H as I write this).
This year, I decided to dig into the notion a bit further. I discovered sci-fi writer Don Webb is credited with penning a history of literary fruitcakes, or at least one, that’s alleged to have originated with Dickens and was subsequently inherited by a pantheon of literary personalities that includes, among others, Joyce, Stein, Kerouac and Pynchon before it disappeared in 1993 in an apartment burglary. Having learned up on this literary legacy (satirical though it may be) it would be hubris to count myself in the same class as the aforementioned authors, including Webb, so I hope to retract last year’s fruitcake characterization of my holiday column and submit instead that it’s “something of an artificial Christmas tree.”
I’ll make my case: a) Every year, I dutifully trudge it out from the back of the archive and reassemble it as best I can before decorating it in hokum and hooey; b) Instead of felling fresh wood, I reduce and reuse the same pulpy piece, every year, which itself is a “recycling” of Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas.” c) Like artificial trees, the spirit of Christmas or vampires, it can’t die (though it probably wants to). Merry Christmas!
* * *
’Twas a Wine Country Christmas and all through his cellar
Were stowed bottles of vino and this lucky feller;
His name was St. Nick and Sonoma his pride
As his schedule permitted he’d come here to hide
Now I’ve never been one to judge a wine by its label
Which is probably why I’m often under the table
“All things in moderation,” he said with glee
As he began opening bottles – one, two and three!
“Now, Larson! now, Lasseter! now, Kamen and Scribe!
On, Gundlach! on Bundschu! on Castle and Cline,
Now, Kunde! now Benziger, now Ram’s Gate and Shug!
On Loxton! on Little! on Kaz and Arrowood!
Let’s pop some corks and fill up our cups
We’ll drink upside down just to say ‘Bottom’s up!’”
Champagne gushed like geysers, merlot poured like rain
Zins went straight to my head and the cabs to my brain
He said, “Every bottle’s a vacation, every sip a holiday!”
As he washed down pinot with a fine chardonnay
My teeth had turned purple, my cheeks had gone red
I’d say, “Just a taste” but a carafe came instead
Now the cellar was spinning and my view was a blur
An eloquent drunk, I made poetry of slurs
“Damn, you drunken elf, I’m going to bed,”
As visions of cirrhosis danced through my head
I crawled on my knees, for I’d forgotten my swagger
I’d decline a straight line but would be happy to stagger
As I lumbered and lurched toward the cellar door
he brandished a corkscrew and simply said “More.”
He throttled a bottle and commanded me, “Drink”
“Tis the season,” I reasoned, as I drank to the brink
His generosity proved as grand as his cellar was vast
But who will drive the sleigh after our vintner’s repast?
He tugged at his beard, his sparkling eye winked
“That’s why I’ve got elves, why what did you think?”
Embarrassed as I was at my implied accusation
He guffawed from his belly and poured another libation
Now, I’m not one to moralize, especially in carol
But the fact remains when one’s over the barrel
Designate a driver or a get a taxi on the line
And Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good wine!
∆ ∆ ∆
Daedalus Howell stores his fruitcake at dhowell.com.