My favorite wine is a dry Gewürztraminer, a white wine traditionally from the Alsace region of France. Fruity and floral, it’s smooth on the tongue and lavishly coats the inside of the mouth. I also like it because the name is hard to pronounce on the first (and second) try. Guh-Voorts-Truh-Meener. Say it again.
My first taste of Gewürztraminer was at a wine and food pairing class in Brooklyn. It was paired with pâté. By itself, the delicacy was fatty and gamey. But when paired with the wine, it mellowed out. What was once fatty, was rich, and what was once gamey, was full of flavor. It was delicious.
I tell you this, because I’ve come a long way from the Moscatos and sweet Rieslings I sipped as a college student and recent grad. Those wines seemed like safe bets: sweet, accessible and cheap. ‘Adult’ wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were too tannic and dry on my palate, which was then only accustomed to amaretto sours and cosmopolitans. It was as if I was trying to resurrect the second coming of Sex and the City with my drink orders, not to mention my penchant for emotionally unavailable men.
I was twenty-two.
A lot can happen in four years. You get sick of throwing up vodka cranberries and bottom shelf tequila shots, and riding shotgun in the car of a driver who had one less drink than you. Twenty-two was marked with bad decisions cloaked in celebration. And then finally, I grew out out of it. I quit a job that was making me unhappy, I turned a hobby into a passion project, and moved 3,000 miles across the country. Somewhere along the way, I began drinking wine.
I began drinking when I moved to Los Angeles and found a job working at a public relations agency that specialized in wine PR. I took home bottles of wine from the agency each week as homework, and often perused the aisles of wine stores to take home more. I was an excellent student. For instance, did you know Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are made from the same grape? Or that Cabernet Sauvignon should never be paired with chocolate, unless you like the taste of bitterness on your tongue? The job ended after a few months, and my severance was a $100 gift card to a regional beverage retailer. Newly unemployed but armed with six new bottles of mass market wine, I spent my first spring in Los Angeles downing wine and updating my LinkedIn profile.
About a month later, I found a new job at a creative agency. My present. A job that serves a rotating selection of wines on tap. This month, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir fill up our glasses, mugs and paper cups. I’ve become accustomed to drinking on the job. Drinking for fun on the weekends is one thing, but it’s another to drink on a random Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. when you’re deep in deadlines and need a temporary escape. It’s called self-medicating. We’re good at it in this industry.
It’s funny, although I drink wine more than any other alcohol, the buzz still comes. Slow and steady. Confident and competent. Wine always wins the race. I spent my early twenties drinking to get drunk, which only resulted in breaking glasses, falling over and into beds to sleep in. I didn’t care whose.
Wine is different. It smooths the furrow between my brow, puts a twinkle in my eye and smirk on a face. I feel something when I drink wine. Thankfully, sloppiness doesn’t come easy, and I can’t remember the last time I was sick from wine. It only happens after cocktails, when having one, really means having three; the alcohol diluted by ice, syrups and juices. The hangover intense. The taste of sugar and stomach acid still on the tongue from the night before.
At twenty-six, I’ve learned to drink cocktails for the taste, and shots for the buzz. Wine satiates both and then some. I drink to taste, to feel and to want.
I want it all.