Seeing Red

in Contributors by

By Terry Sweeney
You know I don’t ever think about having a bottle of red wine … unless I see one. Then it’s on. Before I know it, I’m savoring its fruity goodness, its terroir-soaked silkiness, and its warm fuzzy afterglow. All I have to do is spy a classy gold-leafed framed picture of some foo-foo chateau in faraway fancy France and my mouth is watering. Other times it’s a quirky funny oddball label that catches my eye — like “Fat Bastard,” “Horse’s Ass” (yes, this a real wine), or “Plunger Head.” They bring a smile to my face and make me want to find out more about these eccentric wine makers who dare to put all their time and money into these bottles and at the same time risk turning off their potential customers with their snarky off-kilter wit. They should  probably consider themselves lucky their investors don’t have them committed.  Other times I’m amused when a red-wine label tries to capture a lady’s less ladylike feelings with wines like “Bitch” and “Mommy’s Time Out.”
“Their names alone are enough to make me want to take them home with me,” said a gal pal of mine. Adding, “I like a bottle that sends a not-so-subtle message to my ‘water on the brain’ husband — Put down that fishing pole and help me with these rotten kids or I’m outta here!”
Ah, red wine. A friend when I’m in need, but a “friend  indeed?” Not so much around 4 a.m., when I inexplicably sit up in bed, wide awake, dehydrated, heart beating like I’m ready to run a marathon, or simply run myself ragged making an endless mental to-do list instead of sleeping like the rest of the world.  In the early morning pre-darkness, I’m wondering, “What was I thinking drinking all that red wine when I knew this was going to happen?” Is it the sulfates? Is it the sugar? Or is it a fact that I’m some kind of out-of-control lush bucket who loves to sip the night away without a shred of self-control or foresight? Nah, it’s the sulfates.
Maybe there should be a Wee Hours Red Wine Club that meets, well, in the wee hours! That way people like me (and maybe you) can get up and text each other.
Me: “Hey Cathy? You up?”
Cathy:”What do you think?”
Me:”I’ve got so much energy right now I’m ready to get up and start training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”
Cathy: “That damn Barefoot Merlot kicked my butt again.”
Me: “Tell me about it. I feel like an Alexander Valley Cab ran me over in my bed and left me staring up at my ceiling and talking to myself.”
Cathy: “That’s it. I’m off red wine.”
Me: “Me too! That red devil can put someone else through this toss and turn torture.”
We both definitely decide, enough is enough. I stay far from the red wine aisle at the supermarket for the next week. And whaddya know? I’m on the treadmill, deep cleaning my oven, and I’m even considering opening the large scary bag in my closet with all the receipts in it from 2011 and actually doing my taxes before the night before my extension is up. I don’t do it.  But I am “considering” it — that’s real progress. I can’t believe how well I’m functioning; maybe because I’m sleeping like normal, non-red wine drinking people do.
But then a day comes along when, quite by accident, I spot a bottle of red wine in my peripheral vision that crooks its finger at me and invites me to open it up and taste its full red palate of smoky spices and luscious berries and inhale its heavy aroma of sage and leather. I give in, of course, and before I know it I’m listening to Brazilian samba and floating around my house on a cushy purple cloud. Eventually I’m off to bed and to dreamland. “That was wonderful,” I sigh as I drift off … and then awaken. “Ah! Is it 8 a.m. already?” I say checking the time. “2:30???!!” Surprise!  I’m up and WIDE AWAKE. I quietly text my red-wine loving friend in the total darkness. “Cathy?…..” Her reply is all too swift: “Yeah, me too.” Cheers!
P.S.: Inexplicably, the words “chipotle mayonnaise” appeared out of nowhere on the printed version of my prawn recipe last week. Please ignore. It’s a marinade, not a mayonnaise and there’s no chipotle in it!