Break-Up Wine: Do You Own a Bottle of Spite?
My first visit to “Wine Country” was when I was dating a guy who lived in California. He was; to put it politely, extremely “frugal.” To be honest, he was a cheap-ass bastard. He had a problem with paying the $5 to a winery’s Napa Tasting Room. Or the $3 to tour the Baccarat museum in France. Or anything he couldn’t put on his expense account. My friends and I liked to refer to him as “Johnny Ca$h” but it had nothing to do with the singer or any sort of musical genius.
Which is the major of reasons for the break-up. Among many. But come on, we ladies do not want to be thought of as a line item on an expense account. Anyway, since the only thing the guy really seemed to care about was money, I decided to get “even.” When we broke up, I kept a number of “things” we’d accumulated together. I took and then promptly gave away the Gevalia Coffee Maker and accompanying coffee of the month to my best friend. Kept a bunch of dishes I barely liked. Made him divide the frequent flier miles. Took the bedroom set, but left the living room furniture the dogs had slept on. It was one of those kinds of break-ups.
And I’m here, to remind you
Of the mess you left
when you went away
It’s not fair, to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know
– “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette
On my first trip to Wine Country I knew next-to-nothing about wine. It was in the early 90s. And everyone I knew was drinking White Zinfandel. Some of the adventurous women were drinking Chardonnay. But I did not like all that malolactic fermentation in the California Chards I had been exposed to. So on our little trip to Wine Country, I focused on the White Zin. And taking pictures of flowers (some things never change).
I had forgotten about all of this, because, lucky for me, I met and married Joe — who is no cheap-ass bastard. But when I met Joe; in 1999, I still had this one spiteful little bottle of wine I’d taken from the ex. It then traveled with me when I moved from Houston to Ohio to go to law school. And again from Toledo back to Houston. And somehow it ended up in the wine jail.
Last month, after we got back from Barrel Tasting, we had a need to free up some wine jail “real estate,” to make room for some of the new residents we had shipped back from Russian River Valley. First out was the six 2007 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel bottles we kept in there just to have it available. Next came some random extra whites. Then I notice the bottle that had traveled from The Woodlands to Houston to Toledo to Clear Lake City in the span of 15 years.
It was a brownish-pink. The color of dried blood. Not a good sign.
So I pulled it out and started laughing. A lot! “You will not believe what I have been keeping for 15 years out of spite!” I said to Joe, who had wandered into the dining room wondering why I was laughing. And I shamefully showed him my bottle of 1991 White Zinfandel. Now I haven’t visited the winery since my 1993 purchase, but a visit to their website indicates they are no longer selling said White Zin.
I haven’t opened it. I’m almost afraid to do so. But I thought I might post a picture of it, to remind myself, and others, that when keeping a bottle of wine in a break-up, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s a bottle worth keeping!
~ Amy Corron Power,