By Terry Sweeney
Around the Christmas holidays on the first chilly evening of the year, I like to break out a bottle of my peppery, tummy-warming, ruby-colored old friend … Zinfandel. It pairs beautifully with turkey, or duck, or chicken and even more magnificently with all three at the same time in the infamous “Turducken!” (A turkey with a whole chicken and a whole duck stuffed inside it.) Zinfandel and Turducken are a match made in gourmet heaven! I dare even Martha Stewart to challenge that culinary observation. Fry a turkey in your backyard and break out the Zinfandel and I guarantee you’ll have the entire trailer park eating out of your hand.
But Zinfandel is a magical elixir that for some reason has not always been that popular down in these parts, which is crazy because its smokey, yet supple, dark cherry goodness also pairs beautifully with that Southern staple barbecue. And talk about national pride — Zinfandel is American as a wine can be. Well, at least that’s what everyone in the wine world believed for years till some nosey body did some DNA testing on some old zin vines and discovered it was from Croatia. Zinfandel may be the first illegal alien wine to have sneaked past our borders. I don’t care. I need it. I want it and it’s not Christmas without it!
So when I was addressing my Christmas cards this year, I broke out a $25 bottle of the stuff that a friend had given me as a gift. It was a mighty tasty 2007 Zinfandel from the Green and Red Vineyard in Napa Valley. The vineyard is named for its “red iron soils veined with green serpentine” or so it says on their website. But more important to my palate was that it had a yummy dark cherry/raspberry silky feel to it with just a hint of the sage that grows on the steep hills on the east side of Napa.
Popping pieces of aged parmagiano into my mouth, I joyfully hummed along with the Christmas carols on my iPod thinking contentedly that my rich friend cherished me enough to give me a bottle of this divinely spiced stellar wine. That is until — there suddenly wasn’t a drop left. Couldn’t she have cherished me a little more?! Would it have killed her to give me two bottles of this stuff?!! She’s a one percenter for God’s sake!!! Hey … it says right on the website you get 10% discount on six bottles! Now that I think about it, I’ve been “Scrooged!”
Now here I am high and dry and still have a rotten pile of feel good Merry Christmas cards to address. I definitely feel a dark cloud hovering over my former holiday good spirits. I pity the next Christmas card addressee. Suddenly realizing I don’t have their new address, I call my friends Lois and Frank in L.A. to get it. Instead all I get is a machine. I leave them a polite message but there is a slight edge to my voice. “Hi guys … Merry Christmas … it’s Terry … I need to know where to send your Christmas card … call me.”
“Really!” I say to Lanier “I don’t know why I bother. We haven’t heard a peep out of them for two years.”
“Out of who?” Lanier asks.
Me: “Lois and Frank … It’s been two years.”
Lanier: “Maybe they dropped us.”
Me: “That would be the best present I ever got from those two losers.”
Lanier: “They’re both crazy!”
Me: “All aboard the crazy train!!! She’s the locomotive and he’s the caboose!!”
Lanier: (singing) “Craaaazy!!!”
Me: “They both belong in the nut house!”
Lanier: ( still singing) “Craaaazy!”
Me: “Insane! The two of them!! Two self absorbed narcissists that think they’re so great! Yeah! Two great big A-holes!!!!”
Lanier and I join together for a final chorus of “CRAAAA-ZY!”
Suddenly we hear a tiny automated voice on my cell phone say: “If you are satisfied with your message, press 1.”
OH SWEET JESUS IN THE MORNING!!!! THIS WAS ALL RECORDED ON THEIR ANSWERING MACHINE!!!
I quickly press a different button to erase my message and rerecord: “Just thinking of you two like we always do this time of year. Merry Christmas.” Whew!
The obvious moral of this story is that it is better to run out of Christmas cards than wine.
Merry Christmas, everybody!!
P.S. My gift to y’all is this tip: The Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel at Bill’s Liquor for under $10 is my go-to Zin when I’m paying. The bottle is oh-so- fab looking and it makes a great gift!