Wine Tasting

By W. R. Jones

    This past weekend I painted with a watercolor sketchbooking class of Susan Cornelis given at Lynmar Estate winery in Sebastopol, CA.  It was a delightful combination of learning and fun.  If you get the opportunity to study with this facinating teacher in a beautiful landscape I strongly recommend it.

    On Friday evening I attended “Pinot and Pizza” at the winery with Susan and her husband, Bob.  They are like children when it comes to drinking, but I think I straightened them out.  This wine tasting business is a study in making up the most fanciful words your little brain can conjure to describe some grape juice gone bad.

    They do have an excellent business plan at this place as it cost $45 for what I think may have been wine and what I would call “palm” pizza.    The entire pizza would fit in the palm of your hand.  But you don’t get the whole pizza – it is shared between 12 tables.  You have to run your ass off to get enough for your tastebuds to figure out what exactly was on those little tidbits.

    When I walked in and saw a table of two filled with empty wineglasses I thought those two were power drinkers who had got their $45 worth.  I couldn’t imagine how they could still speak so clearly.  When I drink that much I’m face down on the table muttering to myself in a pool of drool.  Then I heard a few of their words – utter nonsense – “fruity, an oak aftertaste, winter plums, etc.” 

    A waiter brought wine to our table and tipped the bottle over my large glass.  Now I get why those people stick their nose down the glass then hold it up to the light to look for color.  They want to see if that slick ass waiter actually put ANY wine in there.  I’m thinking a bottle poured by that waiter may last a semester.  I ran my tongue around the inside of the glass to see if I could pickup a hint of anything.  Here is where I fell into “The Emperor’s New Clothes” trap.  I started making up whiffledust about what I was tasting even though all I really got was some air and dishsoap residue.

   After that tightfisted waiter tried this on me for the 5th time I put my foot down.  “Look here young fellow, why don’t you just fill the glass and save yourself all this shuffling back and forth?  Perhaps you came from a poor family?  That would explain the parsimonious pour.  There, that’s better, now I can taste it. ”

   Surprisingly, Bob and Susan seemed embarrassed to be sitting with me.  I was expecting them to be impressed with my negotiating skills.

   I’d like to point out that you don’t get any better (read bigger) buzz from a $100 bottle of wine than you do from a $2 bottle.  So why on earth would you spend more?  Here is an earthy lesson for all those bright homebuyers and Wall Street gurus.   And, also, you can get jeans at Wal Mart for $15.

   God, I’ve got a headache this morning.

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26 Responses to Wine Tasting

  1. Miki says:

    Great writing, Bill! We both were so happy that you went there, spent an evening with Susan and Bob, and attend Susan’s workshop. God, we would have loved to be there with you all. And believe me, we would not have been embarrassed by you, but perhaps you would have been by us, as we are quite a bananas couple!

  2. Miki says:

    I was so eager to read your account of your trip after Susan starved us with details that I didn’t even see your painting. I find it great, and I think you should do some more water colour… you can take wine instead of water if you prefer!

  3. Very lovely firm lines around those stems — obviously made prior to your (very successful) wine tasting endeavors. Bravo in dealing with that waiter!

  4. bonnieluria says:

    Bill- I like that askew, Asian influence in the placement of the branches. Really nice treatment in the medium I refer to as the Devils’ Dew.

    Maybe that’s the same name as the $2 wine.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Nice watercolor. Glad you have some good workshops out there, too! Can’t decide what I like more, your art or your writing!! ROFL on the evening…been there!

  6. wrjones says:

    Thanks Miki – Maybe in the future you and Kev can visit and we can all paint and drink $2 wine (I’ll treat). Bob and Susan are great company!

    Aletha – I did get one stem vastly out of proportion and spent the better part of the morning trying to crop/paint over with oils to cover up the blunder. Then I found continued wine tasting takes away the need for a accurate painting.

    Bonnie – that stuff is the Devil’s Dew. It does come out of my clothes much easier than the oils and you don’t have to clean brushes so it has its good points. And another thing, if you are going to be an old lady flower painter one might as well use the same medium so one can “borrow” stuff.

  7. carolking says:

    Old lady flower painter? That is NOT how I would describe you. I have a few other choice words which I won’t use here.

    Great watercolor, interesting layout ..and who cares if a stem is out of proportion. I’m sure it’s proportionate to how out of your mind you are on $2.00 wine.

  8. Well, I don’t know how you paid $45, Bill, when I believe we only paid $35! Maybe you were supposed to get the really, really premium wine.

    Personally i think I got enough wine, after all the little pourings, to accumulate a bit of a hangover the next morning. But you’re right. I drink like a child and act like one when I’ve had about 1 1/2 glasses.

  9. Nava says:

    I share your emotions about those oaky fruity aftertaste comments, with a hint of chocolate that meets the front of your palette, and how you can totally tell the cépage was from the northern slope, with the grapes being picked at dawn by a blonde virgin.

    I personally am proud of you – both for your charming suave way of dealing with the waiter. Reminds me of how my husband dealt with an overly obsequious and pretentious waiter at an overly fancy restaurant in Sydney, Australia. Until this very day, we cannot show our faces in the Southern Hemisphere.

    But furthermore – that you’ve dipped your brush in the Devils’ Dew. and I can tell you’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. YAY – watercolors! on your blog!! Who’d have thunk? What a glorious day! A girl simply can’t ask for more.

    I cannot see the screen now from the tears of joy in my eyes.

  10. kevmoore says:

    Bill – I’m with you on the “we can get a buzz for 2 dollars” school of thinking. I wouldn’t know a good wine if I was thrown into a vat of it, they pretty much all taste like vinegar to me – but I cheerfully stump up 90 cents for 1.5 liters of Tinto de Verano at our local cheapo supermarket and drink it with Miki every evening. It dushn’t sheem to have affected me too mush ((hic))

    Susan – it seems the wine affects you as quickly as it does Miki! God only knows what will happen when you two finally meet and share a bottle of 2 dollar wine. I’d better order some Advil!

    I’m sure we’ll all meet up together…its more a question of when rather than if. P.S – bill – your description of the trip brings to mind the movie Sideways – is this a good thing?

  11. wrjones says:

    Rebecca – thanks and what does ROFL mean?

    Carol – Between that lovely smile and Bonnie’s cute little foot, the east coast has almost a whole beauty.

    $35 – Well thanks, Susan. You really know how to hurt a cheap man. Maybe they gave you that deal for bringing me.

    Oh, Nava – I have quite a few watercolors. I did give them up long ago but that Susan rekindled my interest.

    Kev – we would (will) have a great time. I’m getting the wine. Susan can provide the Advil from the money she made off taking me to be shucked by that winery. I’ve always felt on a good outing, the most expensive component should be the bottle of Advil. Some say this world view explains my singular lack of dates from preschool to old age.

  12. Always enjoy the read! The watercolor has a wonderful Oriental quality to it.

  13. Barbara Pask says:

    “parsimonious” wow, there’s a word and I don’t even know what it means. I just love your sense of humor. The wine tasting would be wasted on me too. Your painting looks wonderful, it does have an oriental feel to it.

  14. Very nice ….
    Sounds like you’re having a great time up there… but then I think you’d have a great time just about anywhere.

  15. 100swallows says:

    Funny, Bill, as always. You should see some of the translations into English of the wine-tasters’ jargon on the bottles here. They make you giggle so hard the wine goes out through your nose.

  16. wrjones says:

    Thank you, Theresa. I would like it if you added a page to your site showing your most recent/current work so I can correct you should your work go astray. I know, I know, the prospect is so exciting you want to start on it right away.

    Barbara – did that word work there? I don’t really know what it means either.

    Marion – I do usually have a good time. Susan made the class exceptionally enjoyable.

    100swallows – Are there any painters who do watercolor like this I can forge? Then we can buy the $100 bottles and even tip those guys who pour so parsimoniously (Barbara already checked this word so I know it’s good).

  17. Wine!!!! How about takin about the f–k ass “corks” they put in wine bottles now a days!!!! Take out these STUPID things and they actually swell to a LARGER SIZE SO YOU CAN’T PUT THEM back into the wine bottle opening!!! I have to take a kitchen knife and whilttle away at it to get it back in…waz up with that!!!! Come on…at this point, if real corks are a thing of the past, why not use screw on caps?! I’ve actually seen some $8 and up wines now with caps. They work fine unless your nose is up in the air which it shouldn’t be if ya only springing 8 ta 10 for a bottle of wine for god’s sake!!!! Ahh…I feel better now. Thanks for talkin about wine, W.R. Good luck with the hang over.

  18. Hooray for Boone’s Farm and Domino’s not only unpretencious but the wine comes with a wonderful gadget called a screw top and the pizza comes with a packet of pepper flakes…ah…

  19. bonnieluria says:

    Bill- addendum to your question to another reader- the meaning of ROFL-
    rolling on the floor laughing.

    Computer lingo to trump the LOL a notch higher.

    ( laughing out loud )which you probably knew.

  20. wrjones says:

    David – you are absolutely correct, what is up with cork/fake cork? But if they go so does some of the tasting jargon; “A hint of cork kicked off a tree by a brass legged grasshopper” would become “An upper palette feeling that the screw on lid had a hairline fracture at 1 O’clock or perhaps 1:30 at most.”

    Cara – I think we are ready to date. You sound like a wonderful hostess and cook.

    Thanks Bonnie – you probably saved me from some further embarrasement. The first time I got an email from a woman with LOL I thought she liked me and was saying Lots of Love so I sent her a dozen long stemmed roses (Ok, 2 roses from my neighbors garden).

  21. Dawn says:

    I like the watercolor…
    I agree on what your saying about the wine thing. I went to a wine tasting where they poured in about three tablespoons of each type of wine. It’s frustrating! Also I embarrassed myself once. Went to a dinner with my husbands business associate and made the comment that an expensive bottle of wine can taste just as good as an inexpensive bottle. He looked bothered. I later found out we were drinking a 150.00 bottle of wine. I really put my foot in it!!! I no doubt insulted him. But it is true!!! I think it makes them feel like big wheels to do that.

  22. There are accounts of wine tastings where labels were covered and the 2 buck chuck rated better than the pricey bottles. But unfortunately I’ve never found any dessert wine (my favorite) for $2, not even by the glass.

    I dislike those synthetic wine corks too, but cork harvesting has its limits when demand is in excess of supply.

    BTW, I like the painting too. It’s a very strong design and has appeal for many reasons, esp. the unfinished quality of the work.

  23. wrjones says:

    Thanks Dawn. I was at a wine tasting party at a friend’s house with his friends and relatives all of whom are snooty as can be. There were tables full of different wines white and red. I picked up a bottle of red wine and mentioned to a man standing next to me that they must have forgot to chill it and asked where I could find some ice. Lordy, you would have thought I killed a bus load of children.

    This same friend once refused to give me a bottle of Ketchup to put on a plate of quiche he had cooked. “What the hell? They’re eggs, ain’t they?” “You miserable clod, you would probably put ice in a glass of red wine.” (He missed my little faux pas at the party)

    Diana – I’m flexible on the corkage tool, but unbending when it comes to spending much on the contents. I had a friend who unknowingly opened and served a $250 bottle of wine. One of the receipients pointed out his generosity thereby ruining my friend’s evening. Say, I have a lot of unfinshed work, do you think I should post that instead of the finished pieces? That would save me some work.

  24. gypsy-heart says:

    I really like this piece, and I also really like wine!

  25. wrjones says:

    I really like you.

  26. Always feel free to correct me before I go astray…all critiques welcome…the most current one is up at

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