Sneaking Wine Into 'The Girl on the Train'

The Nevada City Wine Diaries

Nuevo Mundo Carignan, 2015 Les Hauts De Lagarde Blanc-Sec, Sean Thackrey “Pleiades XXIV Old Vines” California Red Blend, Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir

Image: russellstreet

If Donald Trump were a wine, what would he be? I really can’t think of anything. If there is a joke here, I am not the person to make it. Which is too bad, because if not me, then who?

My debate wines: I started with a small, exploratory glass of that 2013 Nuevo Mundo Carignan from Chile I had a few weeks ago at my blind tasting. I decided that in fact I don’t like that particular Carignan. It’s salty. Now, is it a complete fuckshow of a wine like the 2014 Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Reserve Zinfandel that I had two sips of by accident on Saturday? (The only reason I am not giving you details of how that came to pass is you would die of boredom.) Lord Almighty, that Moss Roxx Zin — it tasted like a grape that ate a bag of sugar and then threw up on itself and then ate some more sugar to feel better. By comparison, the Nuevo Mundo is sort of “interesting” in that it doesn’t really taste entirely like wine, which, if you’ve drunk a fair amount of wine, can be a good thing. But it’s also just not that delicious. I like soy sauce, and I like wine, just not in the same glass.

About 20 minutes into the debate I switched to a 2015 Les Hauts De Lagarde Blanc-Sec, a white Bordeaux. It’s organic, it sells for about $14 or $15 and it’s a good, well-made, dry white wine probably like what you’d get in France if you ordered a €5 glass of white Bordeaux in a decent bar. Keep in mind however that the wine you got in France probably wouldn’t even be organic, because contrary to the beliefs of Monsanto-hating Americans who jizz over France/Europe as some sort of agrarian Utopia, Bordeaux is one of the most pesticide-ridden wine regions in the world. This is a nice daily-drinker white wine, made of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, dryer and more crisp than most American or Australian Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in that price range. I liked it but I wasn’t so apeshit over it that I felt compelled to hog it. I had one glass to slightly anesthetize myself against the experience of watching the debate then I checked out to wash dishes.

Before Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s adorable little chat took over everything last week what chiefly occupied my mind was a New York Times Magazine piece about natural wine. (Yes, I know, “8 days ago” is an epoch in time that should have been bulldozed into oblivion by now, sorry, let it live a few more minutes on this page.)

Bring on the Natural Wines

I have had a lot of good natural wines. And I don’t dispute that a lot of wines, most, in fact, are over-produced, over-handled, over-ripe, and contain a lot of weird additives. But the fact is that a lot of winemakers make great wines that are not natural and those people who say things like “I only drink natural wines” should understand that other people might find them hard to take. That said, I mean, this country was founded on the principle that any dude with a beard and a girlfriend who makes mugs from local clay for a living can drink exclusively natural wines although may I recommend that at least one of them gets a non-natural job so they can afford them. But the idea that people who don’t drink natural wines are somehow less human than people who do is what I might call “highly problematic.” Here is a description of New York sommelier Jorge Riera deciding if he thinks someone might like a natural wine:

What he’s really looking for is a certain flare of light in the eyes. “When a person seems open, I go there with them,” he says. He’s not just talking about wine; he’s talking about consciousness itself. He makes a selection. He pours. He watches. “All of a sudden,” he says, “they’ve been transformed.”

He’s not just talking about wine, he’s talking about consciousness itself. People who want to drink natural wines have more life force in them. People who don’t are dead inside. Got that? Weird, because in my experience people who don’t give a shit about wine have far better personalities than people who do.

I realize I am skipping around here, sorry, but Friday night I saw the film The Girl on the Train. It was my third or fourth friend date with my new friend who I call The Little Red-Haired Girl, because she looks exactly as I have always pictured Charlie Brown’s secret girlfriend/beard who went by this name. During the movie The Little Red-Haired girl and two other two people who I don’t know that well (again, boring story) split a bottle of Sean Thackrey “Pleiades XXIV Old Vines” California Red Blend that I had brought and opened under great duress during the first extremely silent five minutes of the movie. The cork made a lot of embarrassing squeaking noises, but it was all worth it.

The wine was an unusual but not crazy light fruity red, made with a lot of varietals including but not limited to Sangiovese, Viognier, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel, Thackrey’s entry-level wine made from the leftovers of his more expensive, single- or mostly single- variety wines. Thackrey is from Bolinas, and when I first found this out, I was skeptical — I dated someone from Bolinas and I don’t know if anyone there should be making anything. But I loved it, it was like a really good cheddar grilled cheese sandwich that someone puts like a little tiny bit of one obscure cheese into.

Another friend arrived late, after a forty-three-hour hair appointment, at which point we all split a bottle of Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir that is the Little Red-Haired Girl’s go-to movie wine. We drank this wine second — one usually opens an evening with sparkling wines — because it was just too quiet at the beginning of the movie to pop a cork. “We could open it during a loud train scene,” the Little Red-Haired Girl suggested, but no such loud train scene took place.

I decided I would open it in the bathroom. There were two women there when I arrived, and when they finished, more arrived, so I was just sitting there on the toilet, holding my Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir, feeling embarrassed. I imagined people looking at my legs under the stall and thinking, “There’s The Girl That Takes a Dump at The Girl on the Train.” But then finally someone flushed and I flushed at the same time and I opened the bottled and no one was the wiser. I carried it back to our seats upright in my big bag.

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir is pretty good for sparkling wine that you can get in a supermarket. It tasted a lot better than cheap sparkling wine but not as good as expensive Champagne. What do you expect? If you’re in a supermarket buying sparkling wine and there’s this for $21 and something else for $14, spend the extra six bucks.

The Gloria Ferrer website says that their Blanc de Noir is “outstanding with crab, Thai cuisine, roasted pork, quail, foie gras or semi-sweet deserts [sic].” What it is not outstanding with is The Girl on the Train, because the film takes down everything in its path. The movie is basically about men hungrily kissing women’s necks while the women look up at the ceiling like “Ugh, you again.” Emily Blunt gets wasted a lot but then ends up being right about everything anyway, which is not a good message for your wives or daughters. The movie did end on a high note for us when Justin Theroux had his carotid artery pierced with a corkscrew and we were like, whoa, weird, we used a corkscrew earlier too.