Adventures in Wine: Cab Fags Need Not Apply

Here it is! The moment you’ve all been waiting for … You knew it was coming, and it has finally arrived. That’s right, we’re going to talk about wine today, yet from my admittedly skewed perspective. I’ve talked a lot about my travel, food, and cooking adventures, but now I get to rant about something I actually know something about, and rant I will. So, strap yourselves in, kids, and keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

I just got back from Paso Robles with my parents, brothers, and assorted spouses, spending a weekend of wine tasting, cooking and just being, well, family. It’s something I love very much, and yet I truly feel pain for my family on these weekends. Why? Because being with me for an entire weekend, with food, wine, life, and traveling as topics of discussion, is sort of like sharing a stage with Robin Williams—not a whole lot of room on that stage. Tolerance, patience and the self control to refrain from throwing a lamp at me is at a premium. “Quick, he’s peeing, throw a Mickey in his wine!”

Truth is, I’ve traveled the world, tasted the best (and worst) wines, hung out in pretty much every corner of every wine region on the planet—hell, I even launched and ran a successful winery that won multiple Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. I also started a wine-on-tap company, and I even have a hobby vineyard in my backyard that makes pretty good “swill” (simple wine). I’ve taken dozens of classes, been to hundreds of industry tastings, and shit, I’m within an hour or so from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, all of which produce some of the best wines in the world. Here’s the punchline: I have absolutely no fucking stemware in my house. My drinking vessel of choice is a mason jar or a coffee cup or any other object that holds liquid. Shit, ya got a vase? That’ll work. My kid’s Thomas the Train sippy cup? Top me off, barkeep! Hell, hand me your boot! I really don’t give a fuck what I’m drinking out of, and neither should you.

I know so much about wine, I almost hate opening my mouth, for fear of sounding like the very thing I hate most in this world: some arrogant prick, or even one of my country club buddies talking about how great Cabernet Sauvignon is. When this happens, my eyes roll back and I just shake my head. I listen to them wax idiotic about the “best wine on the planet” (oh, you’ve tried them all?), based on price tag, region (Napa or Bordeaux) and of course its girth. “Say, Biff, try this extremely rare and sought after Napa cab, won’t you? Its girth is ideal, good weight to the bottle and check out that label, it just ooozes the Robb Report doesnt it?”  Ummmm – “Douche!”  “Ok, I said it!”

So anyway, my stepbrother Issac set up all the wine tastings. He knows his wine, so what the shit, I figured things were under control, and sometimes I like not being in charge. Its good therapy for a guy who runs shit for a living. But there were conditions. “Issac,” I said, “I just have one fucking request. I don’t want to drink red wine at 11:00 a.m. No Cabernet Sauvignon! No cab!!” Let’s just stay away from reds altogether till afternoon, OK?” I thought it was a reasonable request, and I wasn’t trying to be a dick. Thing is, red wines fatigue your pallet and dry out your mouth, and before you know it, you’re at the nearest Mexican restaurant slamming Coronas and margaritas with a Mariachi band doing tequila slammers. Actually, that sounds pretty good, but the point is, the right way to go wine tasting is to start with champagne and aromatic whites earlier in the day, moving to reds in the afternoon, then finishing off with champagne, Jack and Coke, or a Greyhound. That’s how you do it, trust me, grasshopper.

So what the fuck do you think happened? We show up at our first tasting room at 11:00 a.m., and the owner states, “I am well known for my Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage blends (American styled Bordeaux), and Zin. I do have a chardonnay, but it’s sold out.” WHAAAAT! I almost walked out and hung myself on the nearest cordon wire. WTF, man! Issac and this “vintner” are surely fucking with me, right? Nope, they weren’t. He had only red wines for today’s breakfast. Reality set in and I just stared glumly at my glass, but then it hit me: Haa! Today was Cinco fucking De Mayo! A double fuck you. I wondered if I could order up an Uber to fetch me a bucket of Coronas, and a Mariachi band, too, while you’re at it. I wandered out into the vineyard, dreaming of a glass of white wine and focusing on not reenacting the scene in Sideways when Miles loses it and drinks from the spittoon.

OK, long’s we’re on the topic, not only do I not like Cabernet-fucking-Sauvignon early in the day, I’m no big fan of the varietal either. Why? Because of what it represents to people—people who are myopic in their vision of wine. Here’s the deal: People who identify themselves with a varietal or brand—especially cab—are wine fags. There, I said it. Now before you get all offended and go all P.C. on your Uncle Jim, let it be known that I called my good friend Bruce, who’s a card-carrying homosexual, and asked for his permission to misappropriate the term, “fag.” “Well, sweetheart,” he said, “it’s kind of passé, but sure, knock yourself out.” So there. You don’t like it, tough shit. Anyway, when someone asks, “what types of wines do you like,” and you answer, “I’m a big cab guy,” unless you’re a long-distance trucker, envisioning your standard $3.99 magnum of table red, you are in fact a fucking cab fag! As some of my sommelier friends say, when tasting or ordering wine, use your ABC’s: ANYTHING BUT CAB! And also known as – ANYTHING BUT CHARDONNAY! But I really have an issue with Big Cab Guys.

When someone asks me what types of wine I like, my answer is—and always will be—”Whatever’s in my fucking glass!” I cannot stand these blowhards who use wine—big cabs—as some kind of personality crutch, a presumed testament to their stamina and economic status. I despise it with as much vigor as they claim that their “big cabs” give them.

Look at it this way: Some men have preferences in women’s hair color. However, if you’re a single guy into brunettes, and then a red head shows up wanting to do yoga over your torso with a bottle of Astroglide in her right hand and your Johnson in the other, what are you going to do, say, “no thanks, dear, not tonight; I’ve gotta head down to Whole Foods. They’re having a sale on organic, sustainably made cabernet sauvignon, and oh, filet mignon is on sale, too.” You know who’s the only person on the planet who would pull some shit like that? That’s right, A FUCKING CAB FAG! My stance on wine and life is this, I love women in all shapes sizes, hair colors, you name it. Some smell funny, others smell great; some are big, some petite … but they all can be enjoyable if you’re open to it! Heard this pitch before? Five-Star-to-something-whatever? Why pigeonhole yourself? Be open to new things, new foods, new wines, new experiences. Embrace an openness about wine, and just let it happen. You never know, you might find an epiphany wine by accident. And you may even find the one that changes the way you look at wine. One-night stands in the world of wine can be as good as Tinder!

So, you want to know what my favorite wine is these days? A wine that reminds me of a renaissance woman, someone esoteric as shit: two heads, three tits, tiny feet, steel toed shoes, and who yodels. Pour that crazy shit in my glass and tell that cab fag to grow a pair.

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