Wine Wednesday Goes Awry
The pinot noir was tepid and so was the sauvignon blanc. The bucolic serenity of sprawling grapevines harmonized with guttural spews of exhaust. A serpentine parade of FedEx trucks stretched from the “Welcome! Tasting Room Open!” sign on the gravel road to a nearby storage shed, each transport vehicle awaiting full palates of wine shipments. A concrete patio led to the “tasting room” facility, co-opted from NBC’s The Office. We were welcomed by a trio of wood laminate desks surrounded by plentiful office cabinetry. I would not have been surprised if a perfunctory front desk attendant had asked me to take a number and then handed me a clipboard of blank insurance forms. In an adjacent room, another laminate wood desk/table was set with four open wine bottles, resting comfortably at room temperature.
An uninspired tasting room attendant begrudgingly poured us a cursory sip from the first bottle of pinot noir, explaining we were lucky to be at the winery tasting a proprietary blend destined mainly for restaurants across the country. Note to self: do not order this wine the next time you dine in Des Moines. But hey, kudos to them; at least it was consistent. The pinot was just as I remembered it, a cherry cola / cherry Triaminic hybrid, and warm too. A cloying artificial red fruit taste stuck to my cheeks’ insides. Not even the warm sauv blanc (served last) could wash the flavor away. Talk about a long finish.
When Brian and I inquired if we could buy a chilled half bottle of the white to go with our picnic lunch, I was politely informed the winery lacks the alcohol license that permits guests to drink wine on their patio. Who knew? I washed down a homemade sandwich with the water that had been baking in my minivan; the dashboard thermometer up-ticked to 93 degrees. As we retreated to the patio, I noticed the tasting room manager swap out the warm sauvignon blanc for a cold one. I hope the next visitors have a better experience than ours.
To be fair, the winery offers an expanded tasting of their single vineyard designates, which I presume must be booked in advance. Brian and I were only allowed to press our sweaty noses against the glass partition dividing the insurance claims cubicle from the good juice on the other side. While Wine Wednesday was kind of a bust, I have to give this label props for consistency. Every year the winery blends that restaurant bottling to embody the essence of a cherry Vicks cough drop. This approach is one, well-practiced side of the blending equation. The flip side is blending wine to produce the best concoction you can muster. Ideally both goals are the same. Other times consistency and quality are mutually exclusive.
Brian and I frequent different local wineries for different reasons. Some we visit for the awesome wines. Others have gorgeous grounds that afford us a brief respite from reality as our kids run amok, and we gulp down a perfectly quaffable libation. But it’s rare to seek out a spot that offers neither.
Still I’d be an imbecile to bitch about it. A bad day of wine drinking is still a pretty good day.