Tag Archive: wine


Things continue to be a blur, and not because I’ve had too much wine; but writing that did make me get up and pour myself a glass of Coppola Claret. That’s just a little product placement in my blog, although it’s never worked for me before. My first published Star Trek story (Happy 45th, Trek!), “Full Circle,” featured the fabulous Scoma’s on Fisherman’s Wharf as a setting, bit I never received a big shipment of fettuccine with smoked salmon and rock shrimp. Not that I hold it against them. Just means I have to get back there in person for a giant plate of incredibly fresh seafood. But I digress. 

I’ve been working on a short story to submit to A Quiet Shelter There, an anthology from Hadley Rille Books edited by Gerri Leen. The deadline was August 31, and my work was complicated by a week of vacation in midmonth, so time was getting short. Also had a review due to Author Magazine on September 1. Sent the story into the editor at 9 p.m. August 30. And I was still reading the book for the review. Emailed Jeff Ayers, my editor at the magazine, that I had Thursday, the first, off, so would finish the book and review then. Jeff responded that he wouldn’t be reading the reviews until Sunday, so I could take until the fourth.

That worked out nicely, because I’d taken the first off because it was my birthday. So I did absolutely no work that day. It was relaxing. Meanwhile, I had heard back from Gerri on the thirty-first that she liked my story, but she had some suggestions for rewrites. She gave me until September 7 to submit revised manuscript. Which brings us back to me taking Thursday off, but knowing that I had some work to get done and was coming into the holiday weekend. Further complications because my mom has a Labor Day tradition of having a big camp out. Friends come in RVs, tent campers, and tents, set up in her big yard, and spend the weekend eating and drinking around the campfire. Not the most conducive environment for writing, but there it is. I decided to write the review and work on the story over the weekend.

This required some planning on my part. I’d be writing on my iBook, but my mom has a Windows machine. Okay, make sure to bring a flash drive to move review from laptop to desktop, and I’m set. My mom’s out in the country and only has dial-up internet, but it’ll still get the job done. We arrive on Friday evening, and just about the first thing my mom tells me is her computer isn’t working. All right then. Had to head into Cloquet, Minnesota, home of the world’s only Frank Lloyd Wright designed gas station, on Sunday to find a place with Wi-Fi. Ella tagged along to go to Bearaboo Coffee Escape, which gave her a chance to get online on her iPad. Tangentially, the Bearaboo should not be confused with the cat named Beariboo, which I inadvertently discovered while trying to confirm the spelling of the coffee shop. Beariboo has his picture on a charming website called “Cats That Look Like Hitler.” I’ll let you judge for yourself. But I digress.

Sent in my review from the Bearaboo, then decided we needed malts and fries from Gordy’s Hi-Hat, a family-owned burger joint that opened in 1960. They were recently featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. Classic juicy fresh-made burgers, lightly battered fries, great malts . . . an essential stop when you’re in you’re in the area. There I go again with product placement. I don’t think their fries would ship well, but I’d be willing to give it a try. Again with the digressions.

Got home Sunday evening and did some writing. Pulled a late night on Monday and sent in revised story at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Meanwhile, on the fifth got an email from Tony Dierckins, publisher at X-comm, my second day job. Next freelance copyediting gig is ready to download. Then found out on the eighth that my story, “On My Side,” will indeed be in A Quiet Shelter There, along with stories from some of my Star Trek writing friends, Amy Sisson and Bill Leisner. Cool. So, you know, not much going on. Now for another glass of claret. Which is never a digression.

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I didn’t drink alcohol until I was in my midthirties. Didn’t have any ethical issue about it, I just never liked the taste of alcohol and didn’t see any need to force past that. In high school and college, watching friends occasionally partake of the excess of youth, drinking far too much and doing stupid things combined with vomiting, the appeal of drinking was lost on me.

Nevertheless, in my thirties I found myself growing more and more curious about wine. Some close friends were serious wine drinkers, talking the talk of nose and finish and mouthfeel and all the other esoterica that’s so easy to make fun of. I just didn’t get it, but it intrigued me.

Now let’s back up a few decades. I’ve always been a tea drinker. In my youth I wasn’t fanatic about it, but I enjoyed having a cuppa with my grandma. In college, when I spent a school year in England, my fondness for tea served me well. I drank tea a few times a day. After coming back to the States, I still had a cup now and then, but it wasn’t a huge habit.

Things started coming together about thirteen years ago. We moved into our new house and there was a tea shop in the neighborhood called TeaSource. I walked in and started chatting with Bill, the owner. In five minutes I learned more about tea than I had known in my entire life. He explained to me that there’s basically only one tea plant and all the varieties come from different aging and processing of the tea, as well as environmental differences that affect the taste depending on where the tea is grown. Because of that last fact, teas are often named after the region they come from, because their environment produces distinct qualities.

A light went on. “Wait, that’s like wine,” I said. From my friends, the wine drinkers, I’d learned that although there are more distinct varieties of grapes, the environment they’re grown is very important, and many wines are named after the regions they’re from. Suddenly I got something about wine that had always alluded me. It’s easy to be amused by fancypants wine talk, but simple old tea had allowed me to make a connection I could relate to.

I was a stay-at-home dad, so I put baby Ella in her stroller and went to the TeaSource almost daily. As I tried more and more teas and developed my palate, I understood more about the subtleties one can taste with some effort and practice. My wine curiosity grew. Then, a couple years later, when Ella was old enough that Sandra and I could take a short vacation without her, we went to San Francisco.

Enter The Godfather. As Francis Ford Coppola fans, we couldn’t be in San Francisco without eating at his restaurant. And there on the menu was a taster’s special for his wines. Four small pours of different wines, and you got to keep the glass. Seemed like it had to be done. As a neophyte, by the time I got to the Zinfandel, I was a bit overwhelmed. The zin just about knocked me out of my chair. So strong, so spicy. But when we got back home and told our wine-drinking friends, there was no looking back.

I quickly gravitated to cabs and zins, the strong stuff that knocked me for a loop at Coppola’s restaurant. It was a source of amusement to all my friends who’d known me as a nondrinker forever. And, with no tolerance, I felt silly in the melon after half a glass of high-alcohol zin. I discovered the appeal of a mild “social buzz” that was not taken to the regurgitating end that teenagers often do. But I do love the taste of wine.

Which brings us to the present. I have a wine fridge to keep my favorite reds in the low sixties, the proper serving temperature. I talk the wine talk some times, but still find it a bit silly. And that’s how I became a wine lover by drinking tea and watching The Godfather.