I am a terrible disappointment to my father.
Not because of my lack of reading — although he is more than underwhelmed by the number of books in my house. Not because of my vehement anti-theism. He started this humanist train in the 1970’s.
It’s my drinking. I put ice in my red wine.
“It hurts me every time I see you do it,” he said. “To think I raised a philistine, a cretin who ruins the nectar of the gods with ice.”
We live in one of the hottest cities on earth (Phoenix). Most of the year, room temperature in France is 20 degrees cooler than the air conditioner can create in my house of stucco and sticks. I’m just restoring the wine to its intended temperature.
Besides, have you ever tried it? Oh my god is wine better with a little ice. A lot of ice after I’ve been in the heat — like walking through the 150-degree garage for 3 seconds.
With a little ice, those fermented grapes just slide down your throat and settle happily in your stomach without the heaviness and toothy after taste of warm fruit juice.
A lot of ice is a great way to cover up just how much you are drinking.
“You can’t count every glass like a ‘real drink’, honey — it’s mostly ice.”
Before you know it, most of the bottle is gone, and there’s still one more episode of Handmaid’s Tale left before I can go to bed. One glass per episode is a good for a binge watch… but that means getting several bottles at the ready. I need them to get through all the fucking crying. Yes, we know it’s a dystopian future that seems to becoming more and more true each day. But we don’t need 2-minute closeups of the tears slowly forming in each eye of each actor in scene, after scene, after scene.
You might run into a few beer drinkers who are just as persnickety about the type of glass, temperature and fruit you add to your pint. (Fucking Larry) Whiskey drinkers are weird about the shape of their ice cubes — making blocks or big, special balls just for their tumbler.
But winos are definitely the worst. They stare and guffaw. They write internet articles and books about this bullshit with words like “bouquet” and “notes of (fill in a fruit or your favorite type of tree)…” to intimidate the rest of us into believing drinking is a fine art.
It can be an art, but it ain’t fine.
A $12 bottle of red wine tastes the same out of a paper cup as a glass with a stem. I’ve done those experiments myself and have replicated those results on many a Tuesday morning while “working” from home.
It took years of drinking the bottom shelf bottles from Trader Joe’s, but I have found one wine snob tool that I can believe in — the decanter. I don’t own one. I’m not a fucking alcoholic. But, I have actually tasted a bottle that was bitter and horrible on first sip only to become mellow and smooth and delicious after “breathing” for 20 minutes.
A little frightening that wine is still alive. How else can you explain a change in taste when it gets a new round of oxygen? But I also eat raw vegetables, without giving a shit about how the lettuce feels about it, so what are you gonna do…
I guess I could argue that the ice is the “humane way” to drink wine. It could numb the victim in the glass to the pain of being devoured by my stomach acid and gut biome. But I won’t argue that. Humans don’t really give a shit about the pain of other beings — even if they are still breathing as we are swallowing.
Keep that image in your mind the next time you order a fine bottle on a romantic evening… I may be a disappointment to an entire class of people and my very own father, but I will be the one smiling in the corner with his cheap bottle and his glass of ice, so I can enjoy my cool red wine in peace.