It’s something new every day in a restaurant. Earlier this week I served two women at the bar who wanted to share a bottle of wine with their dinner. This process took a while, for the woman who was “in charge” of the decision1 clearly preferred to dither rather than direct. It was a laborious process, and the undertaking proved the dictum that in most cases the wine itself is far more straightforward than the language people feel obligated to employ in its regard2.
I offered the woman a sample of a wine we already had open. She swirled her glass thoughtfully and analyzed the color. She held the glass up to her nose and sniffed deeply. With wide eyes she looked up at me and said,
Wow, this really has a very prominent vodka nose.
I wasn’t certain I’d heard her correctly and asked her to repeat herself. She did; I had not misheard her. I was certain that I had no idea what in the hell that could possibly mean, vodka being—as any high-schooler quickly learns—the odorless, colorless alcohol that can be added to any beverage without nasal detection.
I said nothing.
She didn’t want the wine I’d offered her so I provided her with another sample. Again she went through her sommelier routine, and again she looked up at me and said,
I mean, this just really smells so much like vodka!
I was tempted to ask, What exactly does vodka smell like to you?, but out of propriety, annoyance and boredom refrained. In truth, I should’ve walked away at that very moment—you’re on your own lady. But, my job being what it is, I stuck around until we found her another, more suitable wine.
I did not ask about the final wine’s nose, and I never asked her to clarify what she wanted because I knew she wouldn’t be able to. In addition, I also no longer cared what she might have to contribute to any conversation, ever, this one having soured me enough.
A vodka nose. I still have no idea what that might mean3 although it’s one I’m gonna keep in my back pocket. Next time I attend a wine tasting I plan to use it, alternating it with,
Very strong flavors of water on this one!
I’ll let you know how things turn out.
- I cannot comprehend the employment of such bellicose or sporting metaphors [Fight onward boys, we’ll take that hill by nightfall!] but they abound in this setting [↩]
- In a perfect world wine terminology, like good writing, would favor the simpler over the complex [↩]
- That’s not completely true: my most generous guess is that she thought the wines smelled like alcohol, ethanol and diesel being something that can be detected in certain wines; however, since neither wine actually smells that way, I’m comfortable chalking her up to simply being a blowhard [↩]