The sunset cast a warm, golden glow over the party and the surrounding countryside. Servers circled the patio, offering bites of fresh tomato and mozzarella, or prosciutto and melon.
They locked eyes across the crowd of party goers. He wore a jacket, but no tie, and a fresh shave; she a sundress, white and cool against her tanned skin. The gentle sound of the string quartet and polite conversation faded into the background as he made his way through the crowd to where she leaned alone against the railing.
“May I get you a drink?” he asked. Her lips curved into a smile. “Red or white?”
“Surprise me.” He flagged down a server and moments later handed her a wineglass. As she took a sip, he watched her carefully. “This particular bottle comes from my personal collection. Can you taste the different flavors in it?”
“Yes.” She held the glass up to the light as if studying it. “It tastes like sour grapes.”
People who drink wine are fancy. People who drink wine travel across Europe and appreciate fine art. They swirl their wineglasses while at villas in Southern France, at private galas in Vienna, or while watching gondolas silently slide through canals in Venice.
They open wine menus and then laugh with the wine concierge in Italian (or French. People who drink wine know multiple romance languages). They make intelligent comments about the underlying flavors and the different origins of wine. They smell corks, and seem very satisfied with the world.
I’ve been told that wine has so many different layers and flavors – fruit, tar, floral, citrus, cigar, wet dog, moldy tuna, cupcakes with sprinkles. But yet, to me, all wine tastes of the same thing: sour grapes.
Every year since the year when I, as a child, first asked my parents if I could try a sip from their wineglasses, I have been told that one day my palate would mature and I would appreciate wine. People tell me that when they were young they didn’t like wine either, but that they grew into it. I see high schoolers who claim (illegally, but that’s another discussion) that they love wine. How can high school babies have mature palettes when I, legally yet dubiously an adult, do not?
The wine industry is huge. It’s worth billions. Countries stake their pride on making the best wines. My parents love wine. Good wine too. If I liked wine I would be drinking wine so much more expensive than I could hope to afford. My parents and I keep trying. I keep being promised that “this wine is sweet!” No, no it is not. “Oh, but it’s sweeter-” How can you tell?? It’s all sour?? It’s like when someone hands you two paint chips and asks which one you like better but you swear that they are the exact same color and so no, you don’t know which color they should paint their dining room.
Is it an elaborate conspiracy? Do people not realize how gross wine tastes? That they are paying lots of money for grape juice that has essentially gone bad? What am I missing here? What is wrong with my taste buds? Why can’t I be fancy like wine people?
Because guys. Wine tastes like sour grapes.