Only one of my children is truly wine obsessed. While we eat dinner, she waits patiently nearby, one ear tuned to the TV and the other to the clink of our glassware. Every ten minutes, she saunters over to investigate. “Is it wine time yet?” she propositions. Exasperated by the repeated interrogation, Brian and I guzzle the last third of our bottle, if only to point out, “Look. It’s empty. We drank it all.” “No it’s not,” she persists. She reaches for the rose-colored meniscus of backwash pooled in the belly of the stem.
“Fine, it’s yours,” I concede.
“Guys! GUYS! It’s wine time,” she joyously proclaims with too much gusto, commandeering her sibs for the obligatory tasting. She sips with great relish and thoughtfulness, mimicking the whole swirling and sniffing charade. It would be cute if it weren’t so weird. (Do I really look like that?) She is still contemplating the contents when her siblings reply with the preprogrammed, “Mmmm! Pinot,” even when it’s not.
Having endured innumerable wine tastings disguised as kid-centric picnics, our children are pretty well versed in wine lingo. Words like “press,” “zin,” and “the crushpad” color our vernacular, so the kids assimilate our conversations, even when it’s not directed to them. Interest, understandably, waxes and wanes with the natural cycle of the vine. When Brian and I are in the throes of harvest, the kids pretend play “winery farm” or “tasting store,” reinventing our jobs and hobbies for the pinot precocious preschooler. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be subtly reprimanded or excommunicated from the playground when our girls’ teacher reported back that one of them was offering up “tastes of her wine” from her water bottle at lunchtime. (I’m relived to report she was sampling pinot, at least). The wine business can be a touchy subject for elementary aged school kids. We’d hate to give the wrong impression or support underage drinking. On the other hand, our son supplied wine grapes for sharing last year, so his class could sample ripe wine grapes firsthand. That seems benign enough, but I’m still in the dark as to my child’s ultimate plan for his burgeoning cork collection. Would it be too embarrassing if he toted 100 corks to school for his 100 Day celebration? More specifically, 100 wine-stained, used corks hidden inside an unmarked brown paper bag? Would his fellow doe-eyed, innocent kindergarten mates ever correctly guess what he’d collected and counted for 100 Day?
I’m hopeful playing vino-curious is the kids’ effort to engage themselves in our world rather than a creepy foreshadowing of alcoholism. After all, I usually puke if I drink more than 3 glasses of wine in an hour; metabolizing juice with more than 15% alcohol defies our nerdy DNA. So I turn the other cheek and pretend to not know my own children when they loudly banter outside of well known Sonoma County tasting rooms querying one another if they prefer, “Viognier or the pink one.”
“Rose. You mean, rose,” my preternaturally mature wino-baby corrects her twin.