Monday, May 20, 2002


Lo venire, lo brindare, lo riuscare
- My Saratoga Wine School 2002 diploma

(Rough translation: I came, I drank, I graduated - and never you mind the infinitives)

Just because living in Saratoga isn't enough fun yet, the wife of our esteemed mayor, who along with said mayor is something of a wine connoisseur (French for snob) (not really in strictly lexigraphical linguistic terms, but true in spirit, no?), came up with a capital new idea.

Although we live in what is arguably the dining capital of Wyoming, although we already have something of a world class liquor store (really! If they don't have it, they'll order it for you, just like our book store! Which is also a quilt store! But I digress! As usual!), although we are already people who are devoted to squeezing the last possible fragment of fun that life has to offer, Mrs. Mayor decided what we really needed was a Wine School.

Wine School in Saratoga terms meaning three successive wine "tastings" on concurrent Monday nights at the already ridiculously sybaritic Hotel Wolf, those tastings accompanied by huge hunks of "Italian Candy" (gorgonzola cheese as it's known by the family who owns and operates the wolf) aka "gagonzola" (as it is known to the oldest daughter thereof, who notwithstanding can make a mean flank steak gyro without even thinking about it) and other treats.

For a small fee, residents of our fair and silly burg got to hear lectures from area representatives of national wineries like Gallo (who through their Redwood Creek label have actually made a merlot that didn't make me gag - of course it's cut very liberally with that true prince of grapes, the SHIRAZ!!!!) as well as local ones like the Terry Ranch (who starting late this summer will feature a red and a white created with Canadian hybrid grape strains grown on the south sides of hills all over Wyoming - yes, Wyoming - that show great promise judging from the wines the crew there has made from grapes already tainted by that Colorado soil...). It was meant to introduce "course" takers to things like the aroma wheel, the difference between varieties of grape, the importance of terroir, etc.

But, this being Saratoga, anyone who cares about that sort of thing already knows, and everybody else just likes whatever fermented grape juice does the job of loosening the tongue, releasing the inhibitions, etc. So what it really was, was an elegant and VERY enjoyable excuse for getting together with people who were already our friends and guzzling a lot of wine and eating a lot of Italian Candy and other appetizers. A typical exchange therein went something like this:

PAID WINE EXPERT: You might note hints of cherry and vanilla in this remarkable blend of Shiraz and other grapes from Australia.

ME: I don't taste any of that stuff, but I'll sure as hell drink it!


Brief silence as my contractor friend and I drain our glasses, ignoring completely the wine-tasting protocol of "chewing" the wine and then delicately spitting it out into the buckets provided. Hey, at least we stuck our considerable schnozzes into the glasses before guzzling; we have learned a thing or two about "nose" over the years.

RECENT RELOCATOR TO THE VALLEY: I don't know about cherry or vanilla, but this smells a lot like banana!

MAYOR AND ME: Oh so Thomas Pynchon o yes!


Yes, this wine school can be called a success, even though more than half of us plotted to fail the course deliberately so we could be sentenced to summer school and considerably more of us than that gleefully accepted after-school "detention" and still more of us talked about general remedial courses...

Then tonight, the coup de grace. Just to make you all jealous, dear readers, here is the menu, prepared, I might add, as expertly as it might have been done in Tuscany or anywhere:

ANTIPASTO - Asiago cheese stuffed olive, garlic infused olive oil and french bread (all you need for buna cauda except for no anchovies!), with Sonoma Cut'rer Chardonnay (very nice, not as dry as most chardonnays but not so sweet you go into a diabetic coma either).

ENSALADA: (Did I mention the management of the Hotel Wolf has a bit of an Italian bias? Funny for people who specialize in prime rib, no?): Romaine with pears and gorgonzola salad dressing (heavy on the wondrous raw garlic), with Silverado Sauvingnon Blanc.

MAIN COURSE: Baked tenderloin (that's beef for you city folk) with Madeira wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, with Wild Horse Pinot Noir (!) and Clos Du Val Cabernet Saugvignon (good, but I'm still a working girl, so I'll stick to Liberty School when I want a cab, and Black Opal Shiraz, which I learned I can save a lot of money by buying by the case, when I just want a good, affordable red).

DESSERT: Grapes and assorted cheese (those cheeses being a nice aged gruyere, my favorite since I was a tot and bogarted the gruyere from our Swiss Colony order each Christmas) and Blockheadia Ringnosii Zinfandel and Tosti Asti.

Yes, it's a difficult, deprived and horrid existence here in Saratoga, Wyo, but we do endure, we do endure.

And none of us can wait for our Wine School 2002 class reunion!

(Meanwhile, Obie and me and a few others are planning on our own learning disabled make-up sessions of Wine School to make sure we deserve our diplomas!)