“In times like these it is difficult not to write satire”--Juvenal
Thursday, February 6, 2014
The New Wine Fairy Tales: The Hound and the Magic Squirrel
Once there was a blind man who loved wine more than anything in his dark and lonely world. All day and all night he dreamed about wines from the far corners of the world. Wine was all the blind man would talk about, which would explain why he was so lonely.
“Will you shut the fuck up about wine?” his faithful guide dog would say. He wasn’t just any guide dog, he was an enchanted guide dog, and was very knowledgeable about wine. The guide dog would have been an M.W., but during the service exam he ate his own poop. With white wine.
“No,” the blind man said, “I will not shut up about wine! Wine is all I love in this miserable world. Now get your leash and take me to the wine auction!”
Every month the richest men in the realm auctioned off the rarest and most famous wines from their collections, rare and famous wine they had purchased a few years previous from other rich men in the realm. The precious and magic bottles had changed hands many times, for most of the richest men had no intention of drinking such rare and famous wines. The wines were for trading, like their much younger wives. Rich men need expensive hobbies. Most preferred wine as a hobby to women, because locking a wife in a cellar to collect dust was considered poor taste, plus, wine actually gets better with age.
The enchanted guide dog walked his blind master to the wine auction, where, at first, the blind man who loved wine wasn’t allowed to enter. The security guard questioned the blind man’s money and credentials.
“Have you seen my master’s wine cellar?” the enchanted guide dog inquired of the security guard.
“Can’t say as I have,” said the security guard.
“Well, neither has he!” quipped the enchanted guide dog, and with that, the two were permitted on the auction floor. No one can resist a funny dog. They’re so enchanting.
Many very rare and famous wines were being auctioned that day. The blind man wanted all of them, but was outbid by a different rich man on every lot. “Why can’t I be rich?” the blind man lamented. “I’d give anything if I just had enough money to buy all the rare and famous wines in the world!”
Downcast, the blind man was led from the auction by his faithful guide dog. When they were almost home, a squirrel jumped onto the path in front of the blind man, and the faithful guide dog, unable to control his instincts, sprinted after the squirrel, dragging his master several yards before the blind man released the leash and stumbled face first into a tree.
“Oh, shit,” said the enchanted dog, gripping the squirrel between his teeth, “I am so screwed.”
“You’re screwed?!” said the squirrel, “I’m the one who’s a furburger.”
The talking squirrel startled the enchanted dog, who’d never met a talking squirrel that didn’t hang around with a moose. “Hey,” the dog said, “You can talk!”
“Yes, I can talk,” chirped the squirrel, “I’m a magic squirrel. I was just out for a June Foray, and I get caught by a fucking guide dog. My life sucks rodent dick. But if you release me, I’ll grant you a wish.”
The enchanted wine connoisseur dog immediately realized that he could get out of the doghouse with his blind master with one wish. “OK, magic squirrel, I’ll release you if you fill my blind master’s wine cellar with all the rarest and greatest bottles of wine in the world. So no New Zealand wines, OK?”
“It’s already done,” the magic squirrel said, and, having been released by the enchanted dog, he scurried up the nearest tree. “But I took his nuts as payment.”
“All three?” said the enchanted, and funny, guide dog.
When the blind man arrived home, a bit bruised and now a soprano, his enchanted dog immediately took him down to the wine cellar. “Look, Master, the magic squirrel was telling the truth! Your wine cellar is enormous! Every great and rare wine in the world seems to be here. There’s a complete vertical of Chateau Margaux! Cases of each year! And Henri Jayer Burgundies! And Vega Sicilia! Is that Sassicaia? What’s that crap doing in here? Fucking squirrel.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to start tasting them!” the blind man exclaimed. “Fetch me a corkscrew!”
For the rest of the day, and every day that week, the blind man and his faithful dog opened the rarest and most famous wines in the world and drank them. The blind man had never been happier. He owned the greatest wines in the world, his wine cellar was the finest in all the land, he was finally Somebody. Even a blind man can see that wine is a measure of prestige and power and sexual potency. If you had nuts, that is. But your friends, and other wine collectors, didn’t know you were emasculated. Except, maybe, for how much you talked about your fucking wine all the time.
“I’ll never get tired of this!” the blind man proclaimed. “I love wine, and I love these great wines from great producers, rare and unobtainable. It’s like having sex with every Playmate of the Month! If I could see their gigantic boobs, and that magic squirrel hadn’t cached my nuts somewhere.”
But the enchanted dog wondered. Did the blind man really love wine, or just the idea of wine? One day he decided to play a trick on the blind man.
“Let’s try this old and rare Burgundy,” the dog said.
“Which one?” the blind man said.
“Guess,” the enchanted dog said, and opened a bottle of old Côtes du Rhône instead, pouring the blind man a healthy glass.
“Amazing! It’s almost like I can see the vineyard where the wine comes from. Let me see, it must be somebody's Gevrey-Chambertin! Probably a '35, or maybe older! It’s the most glorious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Oh, thank you, faithful guide dog, for making me the happiest and most important man alive with this glorious wine cellar!”
From that day on, the enchanted dog poured his master swill and told him it was a rare and famous wine. The blind man was happy, which pleased the dog, and, meanwhile, the enchanted dog schemed to take the actual wines and sell them. That faithful thing only went so far.
One day while the blind man was asleep, the enchanted dog had a wine expert come look at the wine cellar to give him an estimate of the wines’ worth. After a careful inspection, the expert told the dog, “80% of these are fake.”
“Fake!” the enchanted dog howled. “Fake? What do you mean, fake?”
“These aren’t even clever forgeries. Where did you get them?”
“That fucking little squirrel. I’ll kill him!” And the enchanted dog rushed outside, where the squirrel was hiding up in a tree, laughing, and hurling rich guys’ nuts at the dog.
“Hey, magic squirrel, you screwed me and my blind master! Come down out of that tree.”
“I didn’t screw you or your blind master, you ignorant BurgHound. I gave you what you wanted. His cellar is full of rare and famous wine bottles. What’s in them, well, that’s your problem. Your blind wine connoisseur isn’t the first one this magic squirrel has fleeced. And I’ve got the balls to prove it.”
The enchanted dog, derisively called a BurgHound by a goddam little squirrel he gave life to, gave up on his dream of riches and went home, tail between his legs, to his blind master. Who spent the rest of his life happily drinking fake wines, never knowing the difference.
The magic squirrel is serving 25 years in a nuthouse.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
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