I started a new job in June. When you’re thinking about taking a new job, you think about the actual work involved and what they are going to pay you and if there is free food, but all that goes out the window on your first day when you realize you’re the new kid and you have no friends at this place. So I was pretty pumped to get an invitation from one of my new co-workers regarding a wine party at her house. She said all we had to do is bring our favorite bottle of red. I felt like that was a sign from God that I had finally arrived in the right place because red wine and I are closer than Jada and Marc Anthony were last week. Red wine is my fucking specialty.
This party would give me a chance to introduce BD to all my new co-workers and in turn, I would get to meet their spouses. I always hate when you know someone at work forever and you’ve never met their spouse. Because really, there is nothing more interesting and shocking to me on God’s green earth than meeting your co-workers’ spouses. Well, and that Charlie Sheen continues to find crazies to have his children.
I always create this detailed idea in my mind about what my coworkers’ spouses look like. Dudes that I would have dated when I was single I imagine with really hot, cool wives. Dudes that I are d-bags? They have super ugly, dumpy wives. And the cool women I work with have hot hubbies and the bitchy ones have gay husbands. Unfortunately, my track record on guessing what someone’s spouse is like is about as good as Kirstie Allie’s on staying away from ice cream. Suffice to say there are a lot of clown couples in this world. But these type of parties generally have me sitting back and marveling to myself (before two glasses of wine) about how on earth some total zero landed his wife and then after two glasses I marvel to my colleagues about it. Needless to say, I have had my fair share of CLMs (career limiting moves) at parties such as these.
But I’m pretty pumped for this party because BD and I will have to go into the city for this one, which is like a bona fide, full-on real date like the kind we had before we produced our litter. I mean, the babysitter is going to have to stay until after 10pm. After 10 pm! I’m going to miss the beginning of Saturday Night Live! Aww, yeah. Big pimpin’ baby.
I need to take this seriously. The wine choice is paramount. The instructions were to “bring your favorite bottle of red”. I felt some pressure. I mean, I drink a half bottle of red wine every damn night. And that is kind of an expensive and time consuming habit, because I’m kind of particular about the alcohol I imbibe. I have spent hours in agonizing over wine choices at the liquor store – finding good ones under $15 is an art. An art! (which, fortunately, I have mastered).
While we’re on that subject: let me just tell the
12 of you who read this whole Internet that those $9.99 bottles with the Kangaroo on them? Are shit. You already know that, right? When people bring that to my house as a hostess gift I want to just smash it on the doorstep the second I see it. Not out of anger, but just because I could kill two birds with one stone: my dehydrated hydrangeas would finally be watered and I could quickly and safely dispose of that toxic waste before my children were exposed. The issue is that you can’t even re-gift the shit, because as a wine snob, I sure as hell am not going to give that to someone I actually like and/or respect. So really, the only thing that kind of wine is good for is donating to the crazy homeless alcoholics who hang out at the local food pantry along with my expired garbanzo beans to find someone who can really appreciate that shit together, or smashing it on my doorstep as soon as it is presented by people who clearly hate me. Or don’t know me at all. Cue the Weepies.
But back to the momentous situation at hand: my wine selection. I’m terrified if everybody brings their favorite bottle, that might mean that we drink them in some sort of order and if I actually bring my favorite I’ll become pretty surly if it’s like the bottle people drink after they are already smashed and they don’t know what the hell they are doing. On the other hand, if I just bring my everyday go-to $13.99 bottle, I might look like I’m unsophisticated and don’t really know the difference between the wine you get drunk on every night versus the wine you get drunk on on your anniversary.
So I discussed with BD and he suggested the bottle of wine we always ordered at our favorite Italian restaurant in Chicago (word up, Via Veneto). It cost $65 there, but its only about $25 in real life at the liquor store. I liked his idea. The wine had some sentimental cache for us, plus if we would routinely pay $65 for it, it had to be insanely great, right? The decision was made and I was okay with it. It’s an awesome wine, but not too expensive so if it gets opened last, I’m not going to shed tears all over the place. Not like I would if I had brought my true fave and people didn’t bow down and worship it like Bobby loves Whitney. So we went with it – the David Bruce Petite Sirah — the very wine I happen to be
guzzling sipping as I write this.
The big night arrives. I dress up our wine. Well, as much as I’m capable of dressing up anything. It had a paper bag on it. It was a sparkly purple one with some bling that I felt was a nice nod to Martha Stewart and Jay-Z together. I found it in a drawer somewhere and wondered if perhaps the Artist Formerly known as Prince had once presented me with a hostess gift? Not sure. Anyway, that is about as crafty as I get, so it was kind of a big deal for me. We show up and I’m still a tad nervous because I’ve only worked with these people a month and I don’t know what they’re really like. They seem pretty cool at work. Maybe a little too intense for my taste, but good people nonetheless.
So we get there a half hour “late”, but we were the first people there, so right off the bat? Dorks. So much for being fashionable. Then the hostess tells us to write our name on the bottle and then to wrap it in a plain paper bag. Well, maybe this is for the best because I’m starting to really regret my sparkly purple bag. The sooner it disappears, the better. I’m totally back in junior high with a fucking Timex and Lee mom jeans when everyone else has Guess and Swatch.
I’m shaken from my insecurity by the news that at this party, we’re having a blind tasting where everyone submits their wine and they all look the same in the paper bags and then we rate each bottle. PLUS, we put $5 in a pot and then whoever wins for best wine wins the pot. And I can’t stand to lose. I don’t care what the competition is (well, except if it involves running, swimming, biking or all three) — I’m going to fucking win. You know, this was almost unfair. I mean, I am the queen of wine and even though I didn’t bring my favorite, we brought a fucking contender. Surely some ass clown will bring the stupid $9.99 wine referenced above, and even those who don’t will likely bring a terrible bottle because nobody has the sophisticated taste for red wine that I have so carefully honed the last 15 years.
So an hour later, the place is packed and for once in my life, everybody’s spouse matches. They all turn out to be kind of awesome and beautiful and there are no clown couples to be found. Because OMG, now I work with normal people. Wait. *Love has an a-ha moment* If they aren’t clowns, could this mean that they too might know something about wine? Something more than I do with my infinite wine wisdom? I start to feel a twinge of anxiety. I will not be beat at my own game! But I make the best of it. Maybe I’ll discover an even better bottle than the one I brought.
Yeah, right. Mine will win.
The wine tasting begins. There are eight bottles to judge. I immediately try to figure out which bottle is mine, so I can rate it the highest. But I can’t figure it out just by looking at them. The bottles are too dressed up. Damn. Cheating is not going to work.
I don’t know if you’ve actually done this before, but tasting eight different reds in the span of a half hour is highly int(r)oxicating. I consider myself kind of a heavy weight given my daily wine consumption, but at the end of that exercise I was loaded. I could barely see the rating sheet, let alone figure out on a scale from 1 to 5 what my rating was. So I decided the best route was to cheat off BD’s paper. Our tastes on wine are the same, so that is a no brainer. He would recognize our wine and give it a 5. And I would copy him since I was too drunk to figure out what the hell I was doing. And we would win.
So I glanced over there after about my 3rd or 4th wine rating and something was awry. Every wine I gave a high rating, he gave a low rating. I mean, WTF? We share a bottle of wine every night. Surely we should agree on the quality of the wine before us? Right? Maybe BD’s ‘2’ was actually a ‘5’ he wrote backwards because he is drunk too. Or maybe that was me.
So I couldn’t cheat off that bastard because he wasn’t keeping it real like me. So I had to do my best to drink each wine, figure out which one was mine, and judge all the others poorly which is really a lot to ask after three or four glasses, I promise you.
So everybody finishes and we turn our sheets in and I’m pretty damn confident that although I’m drunker than I should be, the wine will stand on its own. At the very least I’m not going to embarrass myself. So the hostess starts by naming the 6 bottles of wine that did not win…or lose. Of course, we weren’t in that category because our wine was the winner and I was going to win the coveted Wine God crown. Wait? Was there a crown up for grabs, because in my state of mind at the time, I really felt that wearing a crown for the rest of the party would be an appropriate reward.
Finally they get through all the yada yada yada bullshit and the glory that was all mine was about to be announced. The only problem? The two wines left – the winner and the loser — I rated a 3. But that didn’t really make sense because I rated the wine I brought a 5. And so did BD, I’m sure. Or didn’t we? Something had gone wrong. Very wrong.
This wasn’t adding up, even in my embarrassing drunkeness. What could have happened here? How could we both handicap our own superior wine? Surely a bottle I rated a shitty 3 in my infinite wine wisdom isn’t the winner….or the loser. I gave out 1’s pretty freely too. What is happening here? Am I this sloppy drunk? Why is everybody talking slow? I wonder why Oprah named her dog Sadie? Oooh. That guy’s wife has shiny earrings….
Well, this much was clear: when we were crowned the winners, it would be sort of a hollow victory, given that the most either of us could muster for our favorite wine was a stupid 3. This wine we paid $65 for on a pretty regular basis. I mean, what wine did I give a 5 to then?
The winner was announced. That guy’s wife still had shiny earrings. And as expected, we were…not the winner. Wait – what? We were the losers? Indeed. THE. LOSERS. I mean, out of eight red wines, we LOST. And you know why? Because we both gave our favorite fucking bottle of red wine a ‘meh’ rating of 3.
The world hasn’t really been the same since then. It’s like how you remember where you were when the Challenger blew up. And when the Twin Towers fell. I’ll never forget this moment when my wine was voted WORST WINE EVER AT THIS PARTICULAR PARTY WHERE I WAS TRYING TO IMPRESS MY NEW COWORKERS AND THEIR GOOD LOOKING SPOUSES WITH MY WINE PROWESS AND EXPERTISE BECAUSE I’M A WINE SNOB, DAMMIT. The fall out has been kind of horrific, as you might imagine.
I’ve learned a couple of things: first, I realize that my husband and I have completely different tastes in red wine. I don’t even think he likes red wine. Our entire relationship has been built on lies and deceit. So there is that. Second, fuck you David Bruce Petit Sirah. Third, shiny earrings can be super distracting at a serious wine tasting fiesta. Fourth, I lost. No money. Just shame and heartache. And PTSD if you must know. I can’t look at a bottle of red wine any more and not question whether I can tell whether or not it sucks or rocks.
Even though I don’t deserve it, I don’t know how not to be a wine snob. I still say affirmations each morning to myself about how awesome I am at identifying the best red wines in the land, but I kind of know deep down I’m just a self-righteous asshole who knows just about nothing about anything I pretend to know something about, giving me and Rick Perry more in common than I’m comfortable with.
No more fucking wine parties for me.