By Terry Sweeney
I am making a vow, right here and now, not to annoy my Happy Wino friends by pointing out any more of my wishful-thinking signs of fall being just around the corner. When it’s cold outside and the leaves have turned color and dropped dead, I’ll call you.
Last week I ran around saying things like, “Oh look, the love bugs are back,” “Hey, over there … those two squirrels are gathering nuts for their winter nest already!” and “Is it my imagination or is the angle of the sun on this porch different?” Proof positive, I swore, fall was knocking at the door. Really? Not so much. When I walked my dog just yesterday and broke into a T-shirt soaked, overheated funk while fighting off a cloud of carnivorous mosquitoes, I decided it was time to face facts. It was still exhaustingly humid, too-hot-to-poke-your-head-out, eyeglass foggin’ summer. And I better not come out again till I see my shadow, or till I don’t see it. Sorry, but I can never remember which one of those rules all the groundhogs got together and agreed on.
Yet deep down, I fear all of my ranting is but a transparent attempt to hide the fact: I’m tired of cold summer wine. As a wine writer I can honestly say I have sung the praises of dozens of chardonnays and pinot grigios and countless sauvignon blancs. But every year by the end of August I get “White Out” — a condition that produces disdain, boredom and fatigue at the sight of pale, citrusy, fruity concoctions that half the time have to have an ice cube floating in them, down here.
Now, I’m not ruling out that keeping my living room at 69 degrees could be giving me this intense pre-season yearning for a spicy zinfandel or a musty malbec or an especially bold knock-your-socks-off-warm-your-tummy cabernet. You see, I’m in the midst of writing a book and that means indoors I must stay, milking my imagination and hopefully churning out delightfully buttery prose. It’s got to be cold, cold, cold when I am in this creative state, but afterwards, to take the chill off my Hercule Poirot “little grey cells,” I crave a bottle of the red stuff.
For many of the moms I know, the return of their kids to school can find them treating themselves to an afternoon glass of a lovely red wine with a quiet and child- free leisurely lunch. A guilty pleasure that for them marks the beginning of their fall whether it’s 200 percent humidity still or not.
I have a friend in town (a Northern transplant) who on September 1 celebrates fall by turning down the AC, flipping the switch on her gas fireplace, and curling up with a good book. Her motto: “I’m ready for fall whether fall’s ready or not.” This year I think I’ll bake her a pumpkin pie, and bring it over with an eager-to-please, nerve-soothing merlot. See, that’s what I love about the reds — they’re evocative of romance, civility and comfort. Of course, if you read last week’s column, you already know what I don’t like about red wine and what it can do to your REM cycles!
Still it’s nice to know … a warm fire, a fake fur throw and a big goblet of liquid red velvet can always bring fall and winter to your fingertips whenever you want it.
Speaking of fingertips, mine will be busy from now on banging away on a laptop, trying to finish my book, “Adventures In Sweeneyland.” So for the next few months or so, I will be on hiatus from this column. I wish all my readers the “Happiest of Holidays!”
By Terry Sweeney