Opened Bottle of Wine

Some stuff that sounds like a lot of fun actually isn’t all that great. Outdoor dining is one example. Sex in the shower is another. In either instance, you usually wind up feeling chilly.  

Both of those experiences are better than going on a winery tour, though. Or, really, a tour of any booze-producing facility, whether it’s a winery, vineyard, brewery, or distillery.

Receiving a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of your preferred poison may sound like a good time, given alcohol’s much-ballyhooed efficacy when it comes to getting parties started, but trust me: The majority of the tour will involve staring at barrels.

Sure, you will get to taste a tiny sampling of the barrels’ contents at the end of the tour. But before that you’ll have to endure a long lesson on the subject of How to Taste Things from someone who works at the booze-making facility.

You will get the impression that no parties have ever gotten started on this employee’s watch, and I mean not ever. You will be told to appreciate the color of the liquid in your glass. You will have to make faces suggesting you are savoring the liquid’s subtle and sophisticated mouthfeel. You will have to pretend you smell notes of bergamot. You will have to pretend you know what bergamot is.

I like wine, mind you. I just don’t take it all that seriously. In fact, I can’t think of anything, save for certain rules of copyediting, that I take as seriously as wine enthusiasts take wine.

Maybe we can blame my ignorance—always a likely suspect. Perhaps if I knew more about wine, I’d be insufferably serious about it, too.

But even if you asked a simple “why?” in response to my claim of liking wine, I wouldn’t know what to say. It’d be like attempting Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair” at karaoke. I’d see the title on a list and think, Ooh, I love that song! But then I’d get up there and the lyrics would start scrolling and I’d be like, Oh crap, there’s a verse?

Our wine conversation would go the same way, with my initial enthusiasm petering out as I mumbled something about hateration in this dancery.

Something like that happened to me not long ago at a piano bar. It was the sort of place where any patron can make a request and then perform the number, provided the pianist knows the song and provided the request is accompanied by a tip.

Feeling uncharacteristically ambitious, I decided to sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl.

From the start, though, I found the arrangement hard to follow and, what’s more, I realized I had a shaky grasp on the lyrics. Before things got too far gone, I tried to ask the pianist if we could take it again from the top, but, in the spirit of the song, he ignored my hesitations and plowed right on, à la Fanny Brice in pursuit of Nicky Arnstein. Consequently, I got hopelessly lost and before the song was even three quarters of the way through, I had relinquished the microphone and slunk back to my table.

I only wish Lea Michele had been there to take over for me. I would have been delighted to see her. And how often does Lea Michele get to see delight on the faces of the people she encounters?

In case you’re wondering, yes, I had been drinking on the night of the piano bar debacle. But I doubt the beverage was wine. It doesn’t typically cause me to assay showstoppers beyond my abilities.

Instead, wine tends to make me aggressively aggrieved—i.e., ultrasensitive to slights and keen to address them. I know this on account of the arguments I’ve started at various holiday functions over the years.

To tell you the truth, what starts the party usually wrecks it.

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