A long time ago, in my previous life as a Cheesehead, I worked for a company called Rent-A-Center. You may have heard of it—they “rent-to-own” overpriced electronics and furniture to people with no credit, who have no possible way of affording what they’re renting. So essentially, they rip people off. Which is pretty much why I don’t work for them any more. But I digress.
During the time I worked there, I had two different bosses: the first one, who was a pretty nice Fundamentalist Christian type guy who could be annoying but was certainly entertaining to argue with, and the second one who was just a dick. And it was the dick who was my manager when I decided to move to Chicago.
I remember vividly when I told him I was moving to Chicago, and he asked me what part of Chicago. When I told him “downtown Chicago,” he looked at me with a smirk and said, “Oh, so you’re gonna be one of those people going to wine and cheese tastings all the time.” I rolled my eyes at him and said, “Yeah, right.” As a 25-year-old beer-drinker cheesehead, I had no interest in wine tastings, and I certainly didn’t need to taste any cheese beyond the cheddar and curds I grew up with.
So the other night, I was at a wine-tasting with Buck, and it suddenly hit me: I have become that person! I’ve been to several wine tastings (many of them unofficial wine-tastings at Buck’s apartment—but still!), and I know that an official cheese-tasting will almost certainly be in my future.
When did I become such an urban snob?, I thought to myself. But then I realized that there really is nothing inherently snobby about either wine or cheese tasting. People have been drinking wine and eating cheese for thousands of years, so what’s snobby about that? And in fact, the two official wine-tastings that I’ve attended have been very casual—I even wore shorts and a t-shirt to one of them!
And my favorite part about wine-tastings, in my limited experience, is that the people running the tastings are very friendly and down-to-earth, and don’t make any assumptions that you know anything about wine.
In a recent tasting that I attended without the wine-savvy Buck, the guy running the tasting asked me if I had ever heard of “pairings.” I said, “Uh—do you mean like, wine with food?” “Absolutely,” he said, and went on to serve me a glass of red wine with a chocolate chip. (Yummy!) It was delightful.
See, I’m not so much an urban snob than somebody who really likes food and drink—and especially, food and drink tasted slowly, with great attention to the different flavors. There is just something very “zen” about a tasting. I really, really love it.
So yes, Mr. Jerkstore Manager, I do live in downtown Chicago and attend wine tastings sometimes. It sure beats being a jerk and getting rich by ripping off poor people.