Ok, I just found something out that may shock you. Are you sitting down? Probably, you're using the internet. But if you're waiting on line for something, sit on the floor. Do it. Do it now. Did you sit? Ok, good, because years of pop culture have taught me that if you hear shocking news standing up, your kneecaps will fall out or something.
So you're sitting, you're ready, let's do this:
It turns out I didn't invent the concept of being into wine without being a snob about it. I know, I'm sorry if you were misled. Certainly after a few more posts people will see I reinvented this concept, if not subjective literary nonfiction in its entirety, but as for inventing it first, wasn't me.
I say this because I just read a wine label whose subtext was basically "look how chill I am. I am very chill. Hip, but chill. ARE YOU LOOKING AT MY CHILLNESS?" This wine is Babble, a recommendation of the resident wine aficionado at one of my two local Trader Joe's (and they say this isn't a neighborhood)(how do you pluralize "Trader Joe's?"). The label features Beatrix Potter-esque ink drawings of animals surrounding a rat with a bottle of wine. The rat is telling a story, but the monologue winds up the label, making it difficult to read. The Trader Joe's sommelier or whatever he is made sure to tell me, giddy with laughter, twice, to make whoever pours the wine read what the rat is saying. "What's he saying?" I asked. "Can I just tip the bottle now, while it's closed, and read it?" I could not. Aside from being cumbersome to read, the words aren't even all real words. How chill is that, guys?????
But aside from the chill label, we have the back. I quote: "We won't bore you with overwrought descriptions of Babble... we're too busy blending great Mendocino County wines. But if we had to pin down the flavors, we think Babble tastes like plum, bacon fat, and blackberry preserves--kinda creamy on the palate with hints of cocoa, and tannins that round out nicely in the finish. Enjoy a glass with friends and hearty fare! And while you're at it, why not take turns coming up with your own wine babble? Vie for the longest, most outrageous faux critique. Special bonus points for using words that don't exist!"
Oh my GOD fuck you. Now, it may seem like a fine line between what I'm writing and that, but I really like finding the flavors, getting all wannabe-poetic, and comparing notes with others or the internet. It's fun, especially when you have a little wine buzz going. The biology and history and geography of wine interest me. Sure, some of it gets a bit over-the-top, but it's all in the name of enjoyment, which is a great thing and an even better name that I call for my first born and you can't use it. I earnestly like wine tasting. This label is cynical. This is "I was into wine before it was cool" for people who get that wine has been around forever because it was invented by Romans and dinosaurs. I don't want to make up words. I want to try my best to articulate what's there. As a writer, I spend all day imagining (and doing my 4000 piece jigsaw puzzle in front of episodes of "The West Wing" on Netflix). My few weeks in wine class have taught me to observe, in particular by using smell, a sense humans use bafflingly little compared to all other animals.
I think we can go too far in our quest to be hip about wine. We're so into our apathy about terroir and tannins that we forget it can be fun to discuss. We've gone from "And also, California!" to "FUCK FRANCE." Ok, it doesn't really matter where a wine comes from, but generally, we get a lot of good ones from certain grapes and certain regions. It's like, yeah, there are great runners from lots of places, but Kenya and Ethiopia have a solid track record. Is that analogy racist? Well then here's another analogy: yes, I am a perceived racist and I am from Los Angeles by way of New England, but generally, if you're looking for a truly lush and delicious racist, you'd want to look in the South.
As far as a review goes (this ain't no "faux critique"), I actually really dig this wine. I get lovely, ripe aromas of black cherry, blackberry and cocoa with a little cedar. Like black forest cake served in an actual forest! In-mouth aromas (as Shelby Ledgerwood calls them, because we only taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami; the rest is smell) include plenty of cocoa and sure, I'll give them blackberry jam. Plum, even. But bacon fat? Well, Shelby Ledgerwood says wine is never salty, and she's a fucking genius, and this isn't smoky either, so I think Babble is relying on yet another trying-to-be-a-hipster assumption: that everything, including their label, is better with bacon on it.
The thing is, this wine is good enough not to need promises of bacon. Instead, serve with strong or creamy cheese (but not goat, as the acidity here is pretty low), duck, Moroccan or Ethiopian food, or just some peanut butter cookies and a puzzle. After all, this wine is very chill. Like, so chill. Like I'm seriously stressing out how chill this wine is, you guys.