Eve of Destruction Circa 2002: Wine and Junk Food and Neighbors

Were there really men over forty-years-old dancing in my family room to Eraserhead?  (Or was it Tortoise Head or maybe even the more discerning, Porpoise Head?)  Eddie’e CD collection from the eighties strewn across every available counter top?  Middle-aged women discussing random acts of body piercing in my kitchen?  An impromptu lecture on getting really deep into a root canal?  No, this was not the wine tasting party I had envisioned.  It was far better.  And as one neighbor was quick to report back to me the following day, in hushed tones, “Eve, I don’t think you realize this but people are going to be talking about this party for a long time.”

Ego stroked, hangover held at bay with the forty gallons of water I consumed during the course of the previous evening, had called early enough to cancel the “Race Day” spin with Larry, dishwasher loaded; all I had left to do was a walk-through of my house the next morning for remnants of emptied CD cases and Snicker bars smooshed into the tile floor.  There is no better satisfaction when entertaining than having a party come off well!

When Eddie and I were younger we did quite a bit of wine tasting when we attended classes at a wine shop in West Los Angeles.  It was informative and fun!  At the time we just wanted to learn more about wines to be better prepared for our annual visits to Napa Valley and other winemaking areas.  We certainly didn’t consider our classes “parties”.

We started with interests along our own.  I particularly enjoyed the large “Zinfandel Fest” held yearly while Eddie preferred the smaller, more lecture-centered, weekly tastings.  We took courses (If that’s what you could call them.) on the Burgundy region of France for four weeks, we then explored “Cheap red wine with pizza”, finally culminating to our favorite, “Wine and Junk Food”.

Much of what we learned had been lost in the blurry after-effects of the tastings but some things, like what wines we learned that we liked, had stayed with us.  Now, many years later, we wanted to have our own wine and junk food tasting.  And who better to have it with then the same fun group of neighbors that we had shared our single-malt scotch tasting last year with?

We taxed and racked our brains trying to recall what variety or wine was served with what junk food.  We made a hurried visit to that wine shop that we used to frequent and they helped us with the pairings.

There was to be Brut Champagne with buttered popcorn while the Rose Champagne was served with cheese corn.  (Of course Ed just had to go out and buy an air popper while I was ready to use up the old microwave variety I already had in our pantry.)  Our very own Wolf Creek restaurant’s tapenade (It’s a black olive spread that might be blended with mayonnaise.  It also has an unusual lilacy color and a seductive creamy consistency.) would accompany herb flavored mustards, crusty French bread or pretzel sticks to spread or dip along with the Fume Blanc and Chardonnays. The light to medium-bodied reds, one from the French area of Cote Du Rhone and a California Merlot, were to be enhanced by a Trader Joe’s summer sausage.  While the heavier Cabernet, Zinfandel and Australian Shiraz would have to stand up to Italian salami.  We planned the culmination to be Agua Dulce vineyard’s Muscat Canelli and an aged Port to go along with semi-sweet chocolate chips and sliced Snicker bars.

Without a true instructor for our own event, heck it was just the neighbors remember, the party took a different turn than it had at our more formal tastings.  The candy was too sweet for the dessert wines and had to be mixed in between bites of salami.  The mustards from the Chardonnay tasting just had to be used on the French bread alongside the black olive spread!  The color combination alone toughened the palate!
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  Sacra bleu!  Then the semi-sweet chocolate chips, in Eddie’s one inspirational and instructional note, cried out to be placed beneath one’s tongue to taste the deepness of the Australian Shiraz!

And then all the work I had put into completely covering our coffee table with every printed word on the subject of wine was unabashedly ignored!  Eddie’e CD collection, most of which was found buried deep in the shelves of our home office, were brought out just to try to satisfy this group of hungry dancers.

It seemed they had decided, once they had finished voting for their favorite wine, that each person was to dance.  As I watched my wine tasting party really come alive I interrupted snippets of conversation, “Come on with us Eve….
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in two weeks were going to do it…you know get a tattoo…I’ve wanted one since the sixties!”  All while the “boys” searched in vain for that one CD that would produce more than one danceable song.  At the height of the party, somewhere past midnight, when there was more water bottles left over than wine, someone turned up the music more than a notch and started the cheer,  “ Damn the C——-!”  (This was a particular neighbor, obviously not in attendance, that had kept us awake at least twice a year with their own loud parties.)

It was our first party of the year on our street.  And though we didn’t learn a heck of a lot about wine we learned that we didn’t have to wait for the summer months to come out of our houses to play. Did I mention that they all could get back to their respective homes without getting behind the wheel of a car?  (That added inducement, of having the party on the street that we all live on was almost as attractive as having baby sitters for the evening.)  We were safe, happy, and finally, sated.  Now on to planning next year!  Any suggestions?