Unless you are a winemaker or, say, this guy, work sucks. I don’t care how much you get paid, or how “rewarding” the job is–work is work, and work by definition sucks. Getting up in the morning, beating traffic, then getting harassed by customers for 8 or 9 hours straight is not exactly my definition of the “best day ever”, though of course there’s much worse!
I work on the sales team for the business department; there are other departments with their own sales teams. The estate planning sales team recently moved into the ground floor suite with my team. To “facilitate” this move, the LegalZoom administration funded a wine and cheese mixer in one of our conference rooms for Wednesday.
Needless to say, I was very keen on who, exactly, would be choosing the wine. I was delighted to hear that Heather from HR was the one assigned to purchase the food and wine. Heather knows her wine: in the days leading up to the event I e-mailed her repeatedly about her wine preferences and what she thought she would purchase. Tempranillo? Some sort of Rhone-style blend? As for whites, she settled on an unoaked or at least neutral-oak chardonnay.
Fast forward to Wednesday. I was in a foul mood from work and ready to just pack my bags and go home. And yet, deep down inside, I felt a pull (probably from my liver) towards the conference room. At 6:20 pm I decided to just get a quick glass (or cup, rather) of wine and get back to sending out a few more e-mails.
As is often the case when alcohol is involved, I never did get back to my work that night.
There was a huge cheese, cracker, and fruit spread and a sliced vegetable spread. Sparkling apple cider (which later was delicious mixed with jug wine, but I’m getting ahead of myself here), water, and wine wine wine! I’m not the biggest fan of chardonnay so I didn’t catch the name of the example on hand, but there were bottles of rosé and red.
I started out with rosé because I love rosé and hell, it’s spring. We had bottles of the Marqués de Cáceres rosé, which is made from 80% tempranillo and 20% garnacha–er, grenache, depending on where you’re coming from.
I’ve seen this wine often at Trader Joe’s and other stores but had stayed away because I wanted to avoid that terrible cheap plastic taste endemic to inexpensive rosés and whites. I should have known better. This rosé was wonderful! Upon the tasting I was hit by its bracing acidity, which was balanced by a relatively full–for a rosé–body and unctuous mouthfeel. (Unctuous is such a nasty-sounding word, isn’t it? But sometimes, you gotta make do with the best word for the job.)
It was clean, fresh, refreshing. Very fruity–berry, as in strawberry, red berries–and dry. I was very happy with this wine and ended up drinking maybe four plastic tumblers of the rosé. At around $7.99 a bottle, this is PERFECT for spring and summer. I’m thinking picnics, with roast chicken and French bread. It was a good match for the mild, soft cheeses on the spread, too.
I transitioned to the red–another denizen of Trader Joe’s–the 2006 Pont du Rhône from the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation of–you guessed it–France. Côtes-du-Rhône is a huge area of land that technically encompasses the entire Rhône valley but usually refers to the Southern Rhône. (I’m going to stop putting the accent or circumflex over the o–it’s taking forever to put that thing into my text!)
According to Mr. Mark Oldman, “Given [the] variation in geography, and the wine’s blend of different grapes, it’s difficult to pin down an exact profile for Côtes-du-Rhône [JOON’S NOTE: gotta be true to the text here despite what I said in the previous paragraph!]. It will often be medium-bodied red with varying degrees of blackberries or raspberries, smoke, pepper, and other spices.”
The Pont du Rhone was a great example, then, of this style. I couldn’t find its exact composition, but it seemed to be primarily grenache, which meant it had berry and pepper and a lighter body. The nose had a bit of herb, a bit of cherry. It was surprisingly smooth, very gentle, and also a great match for the cheeses at the event. I could imagine having this wine with some good steak frites, maybe even with a goat cheese pizza.
The best part of this wine was its price: $4.99! It is a huge steal and a good everyday wine.
My teammates were there, as were others from the new sales team as well as the customer support team, which also sits in the same room. Heather was there sharing stories about tasting wine with her husband. James, the manager of the estate planning sales team, was relating how he is in a band and how his knack for motivating lazy bandmates is relevant to his day job.
Then the event started winding down. People started leaving, but there was still wine left to be drunk. The evening was about to get even better, though from a wine perspective you might say it was going to get a lot worse.
I shall spare the minute details of the rest of the three hours we were there in that conference room. Suffice it to say that Jonathan Lewis from LegalZoom yore dropped by, that we pooled money to buy packs of cigarettes and wine, and somehow Jonathan P. managed to finagle two jugs of wine and three packs of cigarettes from the big, black cashier at Long’s (for the price of one jug and one pack of smokes). 11:30 pm, with about eight glasses of wine, eight cigarettes, a Big Mac combo, and six Chicken McNuggets in me, I finally called it a night.
At that moment, saying bye to my coworkers, I told myself that maybe LegalZoom wasn’t so bad. If only they institutionalized Wednesday Wine Night–might be good for morale.