Spitting and Grinning

Posted by Richard Moran.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Big fancy wine tasting events in these parts can be intimidating. Even though I am a local, these people who come from all over the world to swirl and taste our produce seem like silent experts who can manage to look smart while they make small inhaling sounds while smacking their lips and shifting a squirrel cheek full of wine from one cheek to another.These are the people who can look in a room full of hundreds of bottles of wine in brown paper bags and say to themselves, “I feel certain that I can discern one wine from another in this huge lot. Let me take a lot of notes, do some spitting.” Actually, these are the wine people who would say they don’t spit, they expectorate.As if to intimidate me further, at the very fancy Premiere Napa Valley, I overheard one well-dressed woman say to her companion, “I gave up wine for Lent, does it count as a drink if I spit?” Her well-dressed friend gave her his blessings and responded that of course if spat, it wouldn’t count.That complex spitting exercise and its nuance hadn’t entered my mind. Now I was worried about my spitting. Is there a proper technique and etiquette? Do I need a coach?

The swirling I can do with the best of them. Some would say I can do the drinking with the pros, too. But the spitting out of the wine is where my skills betray me.I wonder, how does one spit while keeping the proper decorum at a fancy event? The first temptation is to spit back into the wine glass since it is always most convenient. No. Just the thought of that makes me want to never spit.Most real spitters I see carry around a paper cup which would come in handy if you chew tobacco also. There is something incongruous about drinking a $100 cabernet out of a $60 wine glass and spitting what you don’t want into a Dixie cup. Is there a market for expensive silver spitting cups?Some experts that I’ve noticed stick their head in the sink to spit. This reminds me of college more than it does of a fancy wine event so that option is not very appealing.And there is always that post-spit little drool. So it is always very important to have that napkin handy too. How can such an elegant and refined activity as wine tasting have such an accepted practice that involves spitting and drooling?What about if the event is outside? Is it OK to spit in the bushes? Will I kill the roses?White wine seems easier to spit for some unscientific reason. Maybe it just seems easier than red wine because if your spit goes sideways it won’t stain the clothes of anyone nearby. On many spitters I notice their clothes are speckled with wine spit droppings. The hard-core see this as a red badge of restraint.Wine drinkers could learn a lot from baseball players. Those guys can let loose a stream between their two front teeth that could land in a paper cup 10 feet away. Probably not acceptable at a fancy wine event but a few baseball players who liked wine could be stars at blind tastings.One easy solution to all these spitting dilemmas is to do the opposite — savor the wine as it goes down your throat and enjoy that part of the wine, too. When tasting a few hundred wines it may be difficult to get through the session standing up if there is no spitting, but I will leave that problem to the pros.As for me, OK, just one glass and I won’t spit.


Rainy season

Posted by Richard Moran.

Anyone who owns a place in wine country is asked very predictable questions like, “Do they charge for tasting at (fill in the blank) Winery?” Or, “Do you know how to get us into the French Laundry?” Or, “How many grapes in a bottle of wine?”

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but there is one question we are asked often that I can answer. The question is “What is your favorite season in wine country?” The answer is, whatever season we are in at the time.This happens to be the rainy season. So let me explain some of the features of rainy season that are so special they are worth noting, and make it my favorite season for right now.There are adventures during rainy season like rock slides, overflowing creeks and gushing broken gutters. We are lucky to have a basement and when it filled with two feet of water after the rain storm the kids reminded me there was no need to try to bail it out. The water table had reached the level of our basement. It was an adventure and a science project.

Rainy season brings employment. Our building contractor always told us that with this much rain we should expect leaks. He was right, which means jobs for all contractors, roofers and gutter installers.A sense of wonder is easily developed this time of year. I wonder why the pool is a foot deeper than it is supposed to be and overflowing. I am sure there is a dead mouse or larger animal blocking the overflow drain and I wonder how to get it out. I wonder also where all the frogs come from that now seem to be everywhere including inside my boots.Since it is so nasty out, the mice have moved inside and built a nest under the gas pedal in the pickup truck. No one is sure if there are babies in there or if there are even mice in there, but the truck will sit until the weather changes or the nest disappears. Not driving the old pickup is another way to save the environment and eliminate greenhouse gases — a benefit of rainy season.In this weather the barn cats are not inclined to go outside. They don’t like rain so they haven’t left the barn in weeks and have created their own litter boxes. We just can’t find the cat-made litter boxes, but for obvious reasons, we know they are there. While I sniff and look I have found tools that I thought were lost. Thank you, rainy season.Ants don’t like rain either so they move into the house. We are fascinated during this special time by how long they can make their parades and how little food it takes to bring them inside and how they can work together. Those ants are quite the engineers.Rainy season brings mushrooms. They are everywhere. Since I learned long ago, based on reading obituaries, to never trust a wild mushroom, they get squished instead of picked. Currently they are growing all over the lawn, in the gardens and in the bedrooms. We feel like we have a winter garden with the mushrooms.In general, rainy season is a lot more relaxing. I tend not to work as hard because there is so little daylight and who wants to go out and rake the creekside garden when there are flash flood warnings?A little rain now takes a lot of pressure off of us down the road and we are all measuring the water level in the wheelbarrows. The rain is welcome and so is the rainy season. It’s my favorite season in wine country, until spring.


On Typos

Posted by Richard Moran.

When the UPS Guy rang the doorbell with the stack of big boxes I was excited and happy but I didn’t open them right away. The boxes contained three hundred copies of my latest book, Nuts, Bolts and Jolts. The publisher sent them to me so that I could send them to my friends in large organizations in the hopes that my friends would buy a few thousand copies.  It was my fifth book.  Had the boxes contained my first book I would have torn them open and run through the neighborhood screaming and giving the book to strangers.

Some of my earlier books had grown to be best sellers based on the bulk purchases of large corporations so it was not a pipe dream to try again with book five.  Dutifully, and with the help of some friends, we mailed out a batch of books with a personal note and encouragement that when employees read this book, they will be transformed and all will be well.  One of the pieces of advice in the book is to pay attention to the small things that can make one’s life miserable or great.

A few days later I started receiving messages with statements like, “Your new book is fundamental!  LOL.”  Another one proclaimed, “Moran, you are a fundamental guy.”

Finally, a friend called and asked, “Did you see the typo?”  I admitted I hadn’t even looked and waited with dread for the worst.   It was the worst.

The subtitle of Nuts, Bolts and Jolts is Fundamental Business and Life Lessons You Must Know. In the very first edition, the word fundamental was misspelled.   Right there on the cover in glaring large font was the word Fundemental.  Maybe proof readers don’t pay attention to the covers.

Lots of red faced back tracking later, all is well.  A company in China just bought five hundred copies.  I am glad they will see the correct spelling of a fundamental word.

There remains in my garage a bunch of boxes, unopened, that the UPS Guy delivered one day.