Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What do you hear when you step on a grape?

A Little Wine
Few think of Latter-Day Saints as wine critics, unless you think about what “wine critic” really means. I’ve never drunk wine. I’ve eaten it . . . in cheese balls and things. You take a taste and say, “Hey! There’s rotten fruit or something in this,” and then you think ‘Oh . . . wine.’” My mother-in-law is one of this world’s great cooks. But she occasionally adds a bit of wine to things, which to her is “flavor,” but to me is “rotten fruit or something.” This is a minor issue—harmless really. It’s nothing like serving drinks to minors, which is illegal and which she would never do. Although she did it once. She gave the kids a “virgin” drink, first asking us if it was okay. But the unfortunate thing about being over fifty is that it’s often difficult to read labels. After the kids had quaffed their drinks, she suddenly realized she had fed the kids a beverage out of sync with our religion. She felt bad, and I consoled her, saying, “It’s okay. Just give them some coffee to sober them up.”

Beer, its all over the place
I once tasted beer, when I was about thirteen. I was out hunting pheasants in the field, and I came across a tall can of Coors lying there fading in the sun. Some weird thought in the back of my head said, “Why not open the can to see what happens?” So I popped the lid. It basically exploded all over my face, and I can honestly say I don’t like beer. Maybe it’s better to drink than to wear. Maybe it’s better if it’s chilled, not left sitting in a can in the warm sun for several months. No one noticed my smell when I came home, which would have required some explaining. “I was attacked by a wounded can of beer.”

At my wife’s ten-year-anniversary class reunion, our five-year-old son Erik was athirst, and he saw a tableful of glasses filled with apple juice. After downing a few swallows, he became aware that this brand of apple juice tasted pretty bad, so he asked his mother what was wrong with it. It turned out that the actual apple content was quite low.

Wine, as a weapon
Here in Los Alamos there are several people who make their own wine. We do, but we drink it within a few hours of squeezing our grapes. Others let it ferment. There’s a place in town where they bottle the stuff and sell it under the trade name La Bomba with a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the label. This is not the high water mark in wine marketing. If the man were smart (and he probably is, living in Los Alamos) . . . If the man had any sense, he would have gone with a French name . . . Le Conetete'Bombe Atomique Vin du Los Alamos. “La Bomba” will probably not become a New York five star restaurant label, but it has made a name for itself within Washington circles.

Los Alamos had, until recently, a local eccentric named Ed Grothus who, before his death, was well known but not universally admired in the community, for several reasons.

  • He wrote highly inflammatory and increasingly incoherent letters to the editor railing against everything nuclear.
  • He owned the “Black Hole,” an old supermarket filled with excess materials from the Laboratory salvage yard. You want motor starters, capacitors, ancient computer parts, switches, pipe, wire, alarm lights, something you can use as a dog dish? Ed had it—literally floor to ceiling. It is said that the original Star Wars movie was stocked with tech junk from Ed’s Black Hole.
  • He purchased a couple of very expensive, carved stone obelisks (in excess of $100,000 each) from China and then asked the county council for a place where he could put them. The county council, choosing their words carefully, said they had no public place available and Ed would have to figure out where to put them. They’re still within the gravitational field of the Black Hole.
  • But he outdid himself one day when he sent a bottle of La Bomba wine to the White House, claiming it contained plutonium. President Clinton, a fellow democrat with Ed, was so amused and grateful that he sent a contingent of Secret Service representatives to Los Alamos for a brief discussion and photo op with the proprietor of the Black Hole.
  • When you went to the Black Hole, Ed was always quite friendly. He was going deaf, so he would greet people at about one hundred twenty decibels, “Welcome to the Black Hole!”

Alas, Ed is no longer with us. I have no idea what became of the La Bomba wine. It’s probably under heavy guard somewhere.

NM Wine
I have a friend at work who makes his own wine, and he claims it’s very good, especially his green chili wine (Vin vert eau de feu) and his red chili wine (Vin rouge brulez vôtre bouche). I don’t want any, but it sounds very interesting. One sniff of the cork, and you clear your sinuses. It might really liven up a cheese ball. I foresee the day when the waiter will approach the table and say, “Fajitas? Excellent choice, Sir. And what wine would you prefer . . . red or green?”

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize he had passed away. I agree Ed was ... eccentric.

    Is that a picture of UR backyard? U grow grapes? Someday I will live in a place that I can grow things.