Wine saves marriages and vice-versa

Read the true, funny story of what actually happens when you go wine tasting in California

(Editor’s note: This was my submission for the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, which I did not win. The requirements were that it be fewer than 450 words and be written in the spirit of Erma.)

Being married in Los Angeles severely limits your fun. With one “I do” you go from partying all night with actors and rock stars to bickering with your spouse over who’s taking up all the space on the DVR.

But Californians are nothing if not creative and the married ones have found a way to beat the doldrums.

We go wine tasting. A lot.

Your average wine tasting goes like this. You drive to a part of the state that is so far from Los Angeles that it’s represented by a Republican. Usually it’s called something like San Montaña Valley. Just outside town, every mile or so, are wineries.

The winery will have a name like Silver Artisan Horse Vineyard. Logo: a silver horse carving a rocking chair.

You walk into the tasting room, pay $10 and a sommelier pours a flight of five wines, one at a time. He also offers you oyster crackers for the first time since you’ve been in California.

The wine flight typically starts with a “hearty” selection that could be used to strip the deck off an aircraft carrier. The finale is a sweet dessert wine that tastes like it was specifically designed to turn third graders into problem drinkers.

During the tasting the sommelier points out flavors you can’t actually taste such as cherry and caramel and bird’s nest. But he does not call them flavors. He calls them hints or notes. This is because he is hinting at what the winemaker wants you to taste so you can note the flavor and feel sophisticated.

It’s all baloney, but you go along with it because you have not been sober since 11 am.

While perusing the menu with your one open eye, you decide to purchase the fancy-sounding Grand Reserve Selection Sauvignon Blanc. You could buy just one bottle, but the Golden Artisan Horse Membership Discount (logo: golden horse building a barn) allows you to save $2 a bottle when you order 36 or more.

That’s a savings of $72, and in these hard times you can’t afford not to save $72 on something as crucial as wine.

With your wife (also drunk) nodding in approval, you hand over your credit card so that the winery can ship you 36 bottles of wine that you will forget you ordered until the day they arrive. The whole thing ends with you and your wife crawling around the winery’s gravel parking lot, muttering to yourselves about not eating enough oyster crackers.

In California, it’s ’til death do you barf.

Congratulations to the winners.

You can read their columns here.


Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.

  • Hey, I really liked that one Joe. My husband and I did the same thing when we lived in Monterey back in the mid-90s, but we were carrying our first son in a baby back pack. Poor kid.

    Oh, and if it’s any consolation, I am a loser too.

  • Ha ha. Now that’s good parenting!

  • Mary mead

    Great wine story. Been there, done that!

  • Thanks, Mary.

  • Joe, That was hilarious and quite vivid! Felt like I was right there with ya. Actually, glad I wasn’t…I need to wake up early and herd kids. So funny!
    Signed, Loser#421EB

  • Yeah, I’m not sure what we’ll do when we have kids. Maybe move onto Scotch.