With that, I was moving on again, shuffling from employment to unemployment like a wine vagabond. Once again I had to face the fact that I’d overstepped my bounds in the Old Boys Club and was no longer wanted. I’d called the boss on his bullshit and his only defence was offence: to get rid of the problem – me. Why couldn’t I just lump it, like other people do? I’d still have a winery job if it weren’t for my big mouth.
On the upside, those two cases I brought home from Rafferty’s became the start of my first wine collection since moving to Sonoma County. I put the boxes on their sides in a downstairs linen closet – whites on top, reds on bottom – and stood back to admire their appearance of abundance.
Stephanie came out of her room, looked at the closet, and said, “Do you think you have enough wine?” She was wearing a gold lamé Cleopatra dress and I wanted to ask if she had enough sparkle.
“Well,” I said, hoping to expose her to the finer aspects of wine, “Here’s the sauvignon blanc and the gewürtztraminer. That’s for fishy and spicy stuff. This merlot is for steaks and the pinot is for turkey. We’ll drink that on Thanksgiving. Cool, huh?”
“Yeah, if you want to be picky about it. But I don’t know why you can’t just drink anything with anything.”
“Well, you can if you want, but some foods taste better with certain wines. It’s just a fun thing to play with.”
She shrugged and I could tell she didn’t really care, yet I appreciated her interest. It would be another six years before I’d let her drink at home, but as long as she knew that wine wasn’t for getting drunk on, she’d be that much more savvy about it when the time came.
As I fondled the necks of the heavy reds, I began to wonder what I was going to drink while they were developing into softer versions of themselves. Without the advantage of a winery discount, I suddenly faced the horrible inevitability of paying retail, and that prospect scared me. Before, Safeway and Food 4 Less were all I had. Now, having paid half price for better bottles for the past few months, I realized my palate had improved, but my budget had decreased, big time. It was time to get another winery job.