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Just Call Me Your Wine Lifeline

So, I get a call late last night. First it hits my cell phone which I've left in the bedroom on the dresser, but I catch the last few buzzings from the vibrate mode on my way down the hall. As I'm picking it up to check the missed caller ID, the home phone rings, and on the other line is my friend Leigh.

"Alder!" he says breathily into the phone. "You gotta help me!"

Leigh is drunk.

"Hi Leigh, what's going on?"

"I'm at this fancy dinner thing. And I'm sat next to some guy named [name withheld to protect the innocent]. Have you ever heard of him?" he asks.

"Um, no. In the context of what, exactly?" I say.

"In the context of wine, you idiot! Why do you think I'm calling you?!?" he puffs into the phone. "I don't know how I ended up here at this table next to this guy, but he's dragging out all these wines out that are just blowing my mind."

"Hey" I say, "that's pretty cool." While we chat I Google the guy and come up with nothing. "So you're drinking some good stuff?" I ask.

"Well we just had something called 'Maya,'" he says, and a while ago he was pouring me some California Chardonnay that was like $500 a bottle."

"Um, would that be Kistler?"

"YEAH! that's the stuff. And it just keeps coming," he says. "Listen," he goes on, "I just asked the guy what he thinks about Robert Parker's influence on the world of wine, and he nearly choked on his dinner." Leigh giggles. "That set him off for about half an hour talking about the top ten reasons that Parker is an !@#$!@#%"

"Well it sounds like you're doing fine," I say. "What do you need my help for?"

"I've run out of things to talk to him about!" says Leigh. "You gotta tell me some stuff I can lay on him!"

Leigh is a close friend who I've been sharing wine with for several years. He's still a wine novice, but a very enthusiastic and rapidly advancing one. He still occasionally has me come over and asks me to buy him a case or two of stuff online to try out. Gradually he's been learning what he likes and doesn't like, and has lately been complaining that I've ruined him on all the cheap wine that he used to drink.

I'm secretly pleased about these latest developments, but this call has me in stitches.

"So" I chuckle, "are you trying to impress this guy or just looking for some way to hold up your end of the conversation?"

"I don't need to impress anyone," snorts Leigh, "I just want to keep this guy going so we can have something to talk about long enough to drink more of this wine!"

Suddenly I realize something. "You're calling me from the bathroom aren't you, Leigh?"

"Yeah," he says, "so what? You gonna help me or not?"

Not being a woman, I've missed out on all the opportunities to get those frantic calls from girlfriends in the restroom on the occasion of dates gone horribly wrong. I guess this is as close as I'm going to get.

Stifling my laughter, I say "Well, since you've got him going on the global wine thing, you might ask him what he thinks of Michel Rolland."

"Who the hell is that?"

"He's probably the highest paid most famous winemaking consultant who flies all over the world helping people make their wine better or more commercially viable or both, which usually means higher scores with the critics. Some people blame him for driving towards a more homogenized style of wine that suits Parker's palate."

"Ooh," says Leigh, "after the Parker thing that will surely give him a coronary. Great stuff. What else?"

"Ask him about terroir and what he thinks it is. Is it just the soil geology, or does it go beyond that to encompass more? Does it include what the winemaker does? Do all wines have terroir"

"Hey that's great!" says Leigh, "Good stuff."

As I'm about to go on to the next item he interrupts and says, "That's plenty, plenty." He is slurring his words a little.

"So are you keeping track of what you're drinking? Taking any notes?" I ask, wanting to see just what sort of bacchanal this has really been.

"Oh man," says Leigh, "I'm half cocked as it is, I couldn't write notes to save my life."

"Alright, well you just have a good time then," I offer.

"Thanks, man, this is great," he says, "now I gotta get back before I miss any of the wine!"

With that, he's off, and I'm left with a grin, wondering who will be the next person who drunk dials the wine blogger for conversation advice.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud