My wine rack is bothering me.
It stands there against the wall, between the dining room and the kitchen. Brushed metal glinting dully, but classically. Silent, yet undeniably present. It holds 23 bottles. Every slot is full.
But the bottles are empty.
Which is very, very bad.
The first step, they say, is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem.
I do not have nearly enough wine.
You probably saw that line coming.
There is one full bottle in the rack. It is a bottle I bought in France, back in 2007. It is an ’04 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cote de L’Ange. I read that it will peak in 2012. That’s the five-year mark from my trip, and I will not open it a day before that, so that I and those with whom I choose to share it will be able to taste and smell it in all its luscious, full-bodied glory. Sounds tres impressif, non? Oui. So I won’t tell you that I bought it at a rest stop. The rest stop was in France, and therefore it is still impressive.
But that one bottle of Chateauneuf cannot save the whole rack of empty bottles. And it cannot save me.
My nephews, who are three, like to count them when they come over. Aloud. Touching each one with a tiny outstretched finger as they go. “Ooonnnne, twoooo, freee, fooourrr, fiiiiive…” They get stuck somewhere after eleven, failing to remember which bottles they’ve counted and which have gone unnumbered, and have to start over. I wonder if they will remember doing this, and some day after I’m gone, they’ll reminisce about it, laughing and shaking their heads, saying, “We never did know why she had so many empty bottles.” I wonder what people think when they come into my home and see my wine rack full of empties. Do they think I’m a lush? Do they wonder how long it took me to fill the rack with them? Do they think maybe I’m just lazy and don’t like to take out my trash?
In fact, I am just lazy and don’t like to take out my trash. It’s usually late when I drain a bottle, be it with or without company, and who wants to schlep a block to the Dumpster? (Before you get your tights in a wad, I should say that there’s no recycling program in my particular specific location, and no, I will not drive 15 miles to drop off recyclables at the Official Recyclable Drop-Off point. I love the planet, but I hate that smell in my car.)
Here’s what: I moved into this place seven and a half months ago, at which time the rack was empty, save the Chateauneuf. I only drink, at most, a glass of wine a night. Many nights, I don’t drink anything. But you figure a bottle of wine only yields four or five glasses. That means roughly a bottle a week. I generally only buy one bottle at a time, unless I have people over, so there’s rarely an occasion for allowing a collection to grow. Therefore, if anything, the 22 empty bottles of wine indicate that I am behind schedule.
Except I have to confess that I have thrown bottles away. I don’t know how many. Could be six. Could be 20. But aside from laziness, cold weather, hot weather, wet weather, snow, lateness of hour, earliness of hour (depending on one’s perspective), lack of sufficient/suitable clothing for Dumpster-schlepping, lack of appropriate or any footwear, avoidance of neighbors I hear in the hall or outside, and/or absence of makeup, there is a reason that empties wind up perched in the rack.
I keep the bottles that once held the wines that I like, so that I can remember which ones they were. I tend to buy all different kinds of wine. “Oh, Annie said this was good. I’ll try this.” “Oooh, this is the one I heard them talking about on NPR the other day.” “Wow, what a great deal!” “Hey, I heard the ’07 Oregon pinots were awesome, but I never see them anywhere. I gotta grab this one.” These sorts of things. And my addled brain cannot hold on to the names and years of my preferred vintages if they’re not super-ubiquitous labels like Kendall-Jackson or Simi. And then I get all, “Wait, I liked their cab, but do I like their merlot?” Hence, my system.
Once in a while, when I’ve returned from the store ready to cook for a gathering, I find that I don’t have room in the rack for my new purchases. That means I have to clean it out. And yes… I have taken out some empties and left others.
I actually can’t explain why I do that.
I will say, however, that I think an empty wine rack is even sadder and more of a statement on its owner than is a rack full of empty bottles. But I have a new goal. I’m a seasonal wine drinker, meaning I tend to love big, bold, velvety reds in the fall and winter, and crisp, buttery, refreshing whites in the warmer months. So I’m hoping that, as the weather warms and I switch to more whites (which live in my refrigerator), I’ll be able to buy a bottle of white and a bottle of red…
… each trip. So the red will go in the rack while the white goes in the chiller. And then I can build my collection of full wine bottles for the rack.
Then all I have to do is get my nephews to stop counting the bottles quite so loudly when they visit.