The latest episode of the Scriptnotes podcast discusses the Sideways Effect, that phenomenon where a single disparaging comment about Merlot in the movie Sideways caused sales of that wine to tank for years afterwards. The Sideways Effect may or may not be real, but it got me to thinking about that wonderful glass of wine that I had nearly 20 years ago.
Now I am in no way a wine connoisseur, in fact, I pretty much hate all red wine. If there’s a gene that causes one to hate red wines, I’ve got it. But I can sometimes enjoy a glass of certain white wines. In the 90s I tended to like Pinot Grigio, at least certain brands of it. But really, for me wine is that thing you drink when you’re having more than two or three drinks—it reduces the total amount of alcohol that you consume. Since I now no longer ever have more than two drinks, it’s been years since wine touched these lips.
But there was a time nearly 20 years ago when some out of town friends, David and Charlotte, took me out to eat at Le Beq Fin. Not, I hasten to add, the main floor which featured a hideously expensive prix fixe dining experience, but the basement, where they served the same food a la carte.
We started the evening with cocktails, and I had my usual Manhattan, and when the server asked if we wanted wine, I asked what they had in white wines.
As I recall, they were offering two different wines that evening, one red and one white, so the server brought out a glass and poured a sprinkle for me to taste. I really don’t know what I’m doing when I taste wine, and I certainly can’t describe the subtle differences between one wine and the next, so I just put the glass to my lips, took a quick sniff, and downed it.
“That was wonderful!” I found myself exclaiming most sincerely.
David and Charlotte ordered the same wine and I tried to caution them that perhaps they wouldn’t agree with my judgment.
“The expression on your face and the way you said it was so spontaneous, I’m sure it’s great,” said Charlotte.
And we all enjoyed that wonderful wine.
In fact, David asked the server to write down what it was so he could order it back in Connecticut.
I was going to ask her also, but I figured I could always just ask David for the information.
Now this was the era before there was a camera in every pocket. Today I could just snap a pic with my phone, but not in those days.
And I forgot to ask David for it that evening.
In fact, it wasn’t until nearly two weeks later that I sent him an email asking for it.
Alas, somewhere between Philadelphia and Connecticut he had lost the paper where that server had written the name of the wine.
But all was not lost. I called the restaurant and asked them what white wine they had been serving two weeks ago. The person who answered the phone didn’t know, but she put on the chef.
Now it should not come as any surprise that the chef in an upscale French restaurant was himself of French extraction with a very heavy French accent. It took some effort to get him to understand what I was asking, but he did give me an answer which I wrote down and sent off to David.
And I went to the local State Store to buy a bottle for myself.
Sadly, whether it was my inability to make myself understood or my inability to understand the French chef, the wine that I got was not that wonderful wine. David reported the same.
So it seems I’m forever destined to never find that wonderful wine ever again. Probably just as well.