Over the weekend my wife and I attended a wine stroll in Galveston on the Strand. It was a wonderful event. The Strand is a beautiful district that combines ultra-touristy shops, history, and increasingly, some of the best restaurants in the state of Texas. The last claim was born out by a chance meeting as we stopped for sustenance as we worked our way through the stops on the stroll.
We popped into Luigi’s, an acclaimed Italian restaurant for a quick snack, and despite having no reservation and the place being fully booked, a place was found at the bar for us. Before I go any further, let me say that Luigi’s rocks, surly barmaid and all. I can’t wait to go back. Next to us at the bar was a couple from Dallas. We were discussing what a cool place Galveston has become, and I pointed out that the food was better than what is to be found in Houston. They remarked that the same was true of a comparison to Dallas restaurants. By the way, I was eating a grilled portobello that was better than any steak I have been served in a long time. Considering where I live, that is a remarkable statement.
The stroll was a great time, even if most of the wines were, at best, unremarkable. The location and the free flow of wine make for excellent sightseeing, people watching, conversation with strangers and, perhaps best of all, eavesdropping. People who are drinking say some funny stuff!
Then there are the people who announce proudly to the world that they have taken it upon themselves to be the designated dumbass for the entire room. These individuals are my personal favorites. We all owe these brave souls a debt of gratitude for happily cloaking themselves in the mantle of dumbassitude so that the rest of us don’t have to. I wish I could say that I have never been that guy, but I have taken my turn in the box many, many times. However, when the shoe is on the other foot I plan to enjoy it as much as humanly possible.
Now, before you ask, yes my mother did tell me not to make fun of people, she also told me a lot of other stuff that would probably make me a better person if I were to follow it, but hey, I’m a guy. Sometimes I just need to surrender to my baser instincts just to keep them in good working order.
Anyway, we were almost three quarters of the way through the wine stroll and I was afraid that perhaps I was going to end being the dumbass because no one else had yet accepted the responsibility. Then I heard it. The pourer was explaining that her wine was a Australian blend of various grapes when she was interrupted by a guy saying, “Ah, a Meritage!” He mispronounced the word, making it sound French (It is actually a combination of two English words, merit and heritage). A very common mistake, one I still make on occasion because I said it incorrectly for so long, but still, it provided a glimmer of hope that someone from our group was about to step up to the dumbass podium.
My new favorite person did not disappoint. After the pourer politely explained that no, it was blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Grenache (Meritage is an American tribute to wines from Bordeaux and is always made with certain grapes, principally Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. A red Meritage must be made from at least two of these grapes, or the less well known St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, and Carmenere, and no single varietal can comprise more than 90% of the blend) my new best buddy turned and shouted, “Hey honey, come on over here! They have MERITAGE!”
There were snickers, maybe even a laugh or two. The ever so polite woman pouring the wine even allowed herself a smirk and a slight eye roll. We had our dumbass! He then proceeded, in full hearing range of the assembled masses, to explain to his wife that all blended wines are called Meritages, while shooting the server condescending looks. The price of the wine stroll was now a mere pittance when weighed against the amusement this guy provided. I just hope I remember him someday down the road when I get the urge to show off and spout some bit of pretentious nonsense.
Wine shouldn’t be pretentious, it should just taste good and be a lot of fun. Don’t be the dumbass, and please smack me in the head if you catch me being one. Thanks!
And as for Galveston, along with the aforementioned Luigi’s, there are a lot of excellent places to get food and wine. I am almost ready to anoint the place as the food and wine capitol of Texas, but I think I better visit a few more times to be sure.