Monday, February 4, 2013

Malbec, Mixology, and Bible Believing Baptists

I adore wine. This wasn't always the case. I was raised an independent fundamentalist Bible believing Baptist. I never quite figured out what that means. Except for the independent part. For me that means stubborn, Scottish, and a legacy of independent people such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Wallace the Bruce who valiantly died because of their independence. However, in Baptist churches independent does not refer to the rights of the individual but to the rights of the group, and as a group they generally disapprove of wine. I once had an argument with a nice Baptist man who swore up and down that when the Bible mentions wine, it really means Welch's Grape Juice. So after I went away to my conservative private college, I decided to exercise my Scottish independence and see what all the fuss was about.

My first sip of anything was some sort of alcoholic pomegranate lemonade. This was picked out by a college friend for me because it was pink, and pink is, of course, my signature color. I was too scared of getting drunk so didn't actually finish it. Then I started dating a guy who opened my eyes to the wide and wonderful world of mixed drinks. I fell in love. Blueberry martinis, cotton candy mojitos, and sunrise margaritas were my tickets to the magical world of mixology. I understood the differences between mezcal and tequila and could navigate my way about a cocktail menu with ease. But after I graduated college I realized that cocktails, while exciting to order, are a pain to make at home. It requires as much planning as a complicated recipe from one of my favorite chef's recipes, so I gradually stopped and only indulged while out on the town.

And then I discovered wine. It comes in pretty bottles, can be readily obtained in a pinch, and can last you (well, me, at least) an entire weekend. It warms you up in winter and cools you down in summer. You can take it in the bathtub and drink it while you read. The first sip fills you with the giddy feeling of love at first sight. In short, it's the perfect boyfriend. So of course I fell in love all over again. I must admit that it was a rocky relationship at first. I was unnerved by the whole uncorking process, and had to buy three different corkscrews before discovering what worked for me. There were at least two separate occasions where I had to settle by poking the cork down into the bottle. Even that is not the end of the world. It just means you have to drink the entire bottle post haste, before it reaches the dreaded stage of cork poisoning.

At first I only really liked the sweet wines like prosecco and moscato, but then as the affair deepened and matured I began to try all of them with wild abandon. I learned there was a difference between malbec and merlot. I became adept at smuggling mini bottles of champagne and opening them noiselessly during weekend matinees. And I found that I could get my favorite baseball team into the World Series merely by drinking the right kind of wine during the middle innings. That's right, San Francisco. You have me to thank for those close calls with Timmy Lincecum in 2010. And I did it again in 2012. All with a certain Californian white wine.

It may sound as if I am becoming an alcoholic. Rest assured, dear conservative alma mater, I shan't. Thankfully with my degree in political theory I'll never make enough to be a proper, raging alcoholic. Even if I did, I don't like the idea of waking up with a hangover, because I despise pain. And I must admit that no wine can ever beat my pomegranate juice for hitting the spot. But it is easier to uncork a bottle than to make that complicated mixed drink, and for that I shall ever be grateful.

1 comment:

Cheryl Banks said...

I'm pretty sure I went to that baptist church! I'm a reckless renegade now attending a church where the pastor is a born-again surfer who lets out early for a knarly southern swell, and where the Welch's is relegated to the middle of the elements plate while it's more mature cousin, from Napa of course cause this is Cali, boldly thumbs it's vintage at conservative Baptist tradition.