99 bottles of beer, 60 bottles of Grenache, 200 bottles of Red, White & Whatever, 3 Fire Dancers, 1 pot of Gumbo from Zin Resturant, and a Beer Wench on the Roof.
That's the partial list of what I encountered at a recent Birthday Bash for William Allen (aka @SonomaWilliam) here in Wine World-- the mystical devils triangle of wine, food & people in Sonoma County, or SoCo as it’s affectionately known.
Back in the day, before I lived in Wine World and became acquainted with the wine blogging elite, dinner parties were a more somber affair. We’d dine, we’d talk directly to each other, actually look people in the eye as we conversed. When guests arrived a bottle of bubbles might be poured. Then with dinner an appropriate wine for the meal would be served. When that sole bottle was done, and if the meal was still in progress, the host might say-- “Should we open another bottle?” The guests would demure “Oh, I don't know. Well, maybe, but don't open it unless everyone wants more. Don’t open it just for me.”
How quaint! Perhaps those were the days to which Mr. Thoreau was speaking when he said--"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Maybe they were just waiting for the host to open another bottle. Ha!
Not anymore. Welcome to Wine World! Since moving to SoCo dinner parties, in fact all parties are an all out wine-o-rama. Ten dinner guests? Expect to see 30 bottles or more on the table. In SoCo the bottles seem to multiply faster than tribbles on the Star Ship Enterprise.
Things are different here.
Parties in Wine World are not drunk fests. (Well okay, actually some of them are, or I should say for some people they are) but the majority of the guests are just true oenophiles, so enthusiastic about a wine that they want to share it with you, and tell you all about it.
In reality, although there may be hundreds of bottles out at a party, not all are opened or even finished. Save for the really exceptional wines which are drained quickly. It’s like the salad bar. You taste a little of this, try a little of that, then maybe go back for some more bacon bits and skip the jello.
Add to all this the furious tweeting that goes on and you may find you spent half the night looking at your phone instead of the other guests. Unless of course there are fire dancers in attendance--then everybody is looking up at the show.
Often at these parties you'll find a few folks walking around with bottle held close to their chest, they’ll pull you aside and say- “Hey--You gotta try this.” A small amount is poured into your glass. You swirl, sniff, sip and nod your approval. Before you can thank them, they are off pulling aside someone else like some guy in Times Square clandestinely selling watches from the inside a trench coat.
Thankfully for my health and sanity, I don't attend too many of these bacchanal’s. But it always amazes me when I do. It’s made me re-think what wow-factor really is. After you attend one of these blow-out affairs with first rate food and fire dancers providing the entertainment, you realize your idea for Pony Rides and Happy Meals at your birthday party is just not going to cut it.
With some things it’s best to know you can’t compete.
C'est la vie' – That’s life.