It’s no secret that I want my daughter to become the first sommelier to get certified before the age of ten..though it might be a secret to Child Protective Services, so maybe we should keep this little tidbit under the hat. There’s no doubt she’s got the skills. She single-handedly developed the Unicorn Fart Scale of grading wines (unicorns fart rainbow clouds, in case you haven’t been paying attention), and she can distinguish the delicate subtlety between a varietal that “smells like grapes” and one that “smells like big grapes.”
So it was no surprise when my Little Pinot Princess followed me into the kitchen yesterday for my post-workday glass of wine. It had been a particularly brutal day, but this little ritual is always a highlight. Typically, after pouring, I hand my Padawine Learner the glass and ask her to tell me what she smells. Some previous answers included, “Bubblegum, after it falls on the carpet” and “poop, but the hard kind – the kind at the zoo” (which accurately describes a lot of Syrahs I’ve had). But before we could get to the bouquet test, my daughter had a rather interesting question for me as I poured.
“Why is the bottle smiling?”
“Because it’s a bottle of wine,” I replied. “So its life is inherently awesome.”
“No,” she admonished me. “On the bottom. It looks like it’s smiling.”
I drained the bottle into my glass (taking advantage of the excellent excuse for pouring 10-ounces in front of my child) and looked at the bottom of the bottle. It was a bottle of Cabernet, so it had a rather deep punt to it.
“This thing?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s like a smile.”
Actually, I thought, it’s like a circle of glass. Historically, punts were a function of wine bottles that were made by glassblowers. The seam was pushed up to make sure the bottle could stand upright and there wasn’t a sharp point of glass on the bottom. It’s also thought that the punt added to the bottle’s structural integrity.
“I guess,” I replied, then I rotated the bottle 90 degrees in my hand. “Does it look like a frown now?”
“Nope. Still a smile.”
I set the bottle down and grabbed my glass, being careful not to spill the healing and redemptive elixir within.
“So, how was your day, daddy?” my girl asked cheerfully.
“Well, honey,” I thought to myself, “funny you’d ask, because I was just about to mainline this Cab and contemplate whether, metaphorically speaking, today was like the humiliation inherent in a prison-style ass-thrashing, or closer to the physical brutalization of going ten rounds in the UFC cage with Conor McGregor when tapping out is not an option.”
Of course I didn’t say that, and of course I really wanted to just smile like the punt of a wine bottle, knowing that no matter how the world rotated me, I was just going to keep on smiling. But that wasn’t about to happen. Though it is a simply heartwarming little new-agey thought, and I really should put it on a meme and post it to my Twitter account and sit back and listen to my phone ding with alerts from new followers.
But as my daughter stared up at me, awaiting her answer, grinning with those two front teeth that are currently four times the size of their closest neighbors, I was struck with an enormous and terrifying thought. She believes the bottle is smiling. It’s not a metaphor to her; it’s not a meme. It’s not a happiness training regiment that, along with proper diet and exercise, has shown to create 32% more feelings of contentment in a recent study among adults aged 25 to 34. It’s simply how she sees the world. It’s called innocence.
The terrifying part is that, one of these days, that innocence is going to be shattered. Life is going to break my little girl’s heart. Life is going to stick out its giant, nasty foot and trip her up head over heels as she’s racing towards her goal line. Life is going to plop a giant steamin’ johnny on her dreams. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, as much as I’d lay down my life to prevent it, it’s going to happen anyway, and it’s going to happen on my watch.
But not today.
“Thanks for asking, sweetheart!” I said. “I had the best. Day. Ever.”
Getting Your Punt Handed To You And Smiling Regardless Pairs With: 2014 Stasis Pinot Noir, Murmur Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley. I’ve been a big fan of Force of Nature wines for years, as they’ve been a consistent example of what Paso Robles does right, but I was only recently turned on to their sister label, Stasis. On the nose, this Pinot has all the earth & mushroom zeitgeist you expect from a Burgundy, but the subtlety goes right out window as this baby explodes across the palate – which is just the way I like it. I’d be tempted to say winemaker Robert Henson blends some Syrah in there (and not the zoo-poop kind), but it’s probably just his Monterey and Santa Cruz influence showing through. Drink now or let it mellow out for about five years. Four Unicorn Farts, as my daughter would say.