Wine Tasting with Poor Old Garrett

April 27, 2014

Garrett’s wife finally smiled on our last day in Vaison-la-Romaine when Alex said to her, “Good morning.” See, Garrett and his wife (a marina owner) had been staying in Châteauneuf-du-Pape for the past week before our paths crossed outside our bed and breakfast. Garrett and our B and B manger, Laurent, stood under a large leafy tree as the rain began to fall. They were talking about wine. Upon seeing our wine cache we were quickly invited into the conversation.

Garrett is that strange combination of not recognizing social cues and being socially awkward (Alex and I kept on trying to excuse us from the conversation) crossed with also being an arrogant jerk. He not only tells you what wine he has tasted that day, he also includes the price (only if it is expensive) and the Robert Parker score in the same breath. I should mention that he is also from California.

Perhaps after sensing our desire to escape, Laurent paused the conversation and invited us to a wine tasting later and where we would continue our conversation.

Everyone was in the dining room when Alex and I came down. Laurent opened a Viognier (it received 98 points from Robert Parker) and a Gigondas (which could be purchased for 15€). Garrett brought a bottle that he had purchased along the way.

During our previous conversation Garrett claimed he was fluent in French. During our hour long tasting two things became clear. One, Garrett is not fluent in French. And two, we questioned if Garrett’s wife even liked him. In my observations these past few weeks you see how openly expressive the French are. When they like you, they like you. And you know it. When they don’t or are offended by you, they let you know that two. When Garrett thought the woman (from France) didn’t understand where he said he was from, he slowed it down, “Saaan D-iiii-eeee-g-oooo, Cali-forni (yes, he said “Cali-forni”), comprendre?” Her whole body bristled and said that she understood with a level of disgust that even I understood without knowing any French.

Garrett’s wife brooded at the corner of the table as the conversation moved rapidly (in French) from the Michelin guide (Garrett incorrectly claimed a restaurant he visited had two stars, the Belgium couple corrected him and grabbed the guide from the shelf as further proof) to the bright floral notes of the Viognier to the stylistic differences between Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Alex said she could comprehend 1 in 7 words of the conversation. I was more 1 in 40, maybe 50. In general, wine tasting is an intimidating activity. It is even harder when you don’t speak the language.

We were saying our goodbyes to Laurent as we checked out and he asked where we were heading next, “Mt. Ventoux,” I replied. Garrett replied, “Us too.”

So how do you defeat an arrogant Californian? Give him a dose of the ‘Seattle Nice.’

While shaking his hand, I said, “It was nice to meet you. Maybe we’ll see you up there.”


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