Late December, somewhere in Sonoma
He saw people walking toward the door and thought, “Shit, really.. of course.” It was 2:13 and he was done, he felt done— no, he was done. He was alone in the room today, as the other rep called in sick for the howevermanyth time, but he couldn’t think about that now. He had to make it till 5, or past 5 if there were still people tasting. And he had to get a few more wine club signups if he was to get that bonus. He needed the bonus.. “bonus, bonus, bonus,” all his manager, appropriately with a name tag reading “DICK” (yes in caps), ever said of late.
They walked in. “Hi, everyone! How we doing today?” he said, putting out some menus, moving the pour, or spit, bucket to an agreeable position.
They just smiled, nodded, looked around, gawked at the Spectator scores boasted on the wall like they were something that would even have meaning next week.
“Would you all like to do a tasting?”
“Well.. that’s .. why were here,” the man, apparent group leader said, with the obvious ‘what do you think, stupid?’ octave to his shaded and jaded sentence.
He could tell the man didn’t want to be here, which Adam couldn’t figure out. Why would you not want to be at a winery, especially one this visually fetching and gripping, and if you were here, why not be in a good mood? But again, past that thought.
“There’ll only be three of us tasting,” one of the women, sourpuss’ wife, said, throwing her purse on the bar with obvious mood, an obvious extension of her husband’s.
“Okay, well here’s what we’re pouring today,” Adam said.
“I can see that,” sourpuss said.
“Do you do any blends?” one of the other men said, smiling, obviously conscious of the couple’s attitude, possibly trying to make Adam more comfortable.
“We don’t, actually.. our specialty is single-vineyard Merlot.”
“I hate Merlot, no…” sourpuss said.
“You should try it, Alex, you don’t hate Merlot,” the wife said, then looking at Adam, mouthing “He doesn’t hate Merlot, don’t listen to him.”
“And no blends?” sourpuss added.
“No.. no blends.”
Sourpuss turned and left, leaving the other five uncertain of what happened.
“I’m so sorry, we’ll be right back…” wife said, walking out, slowly, after sour. All following except the kind smiling man.
“Well you know what, hell! I’ll taste! Whattayagot?”
Adam smiled and took out a glass from the rack. “We start everyone off with that Sauvignon Blanc from Bennett Valley, but I’m going to start you with a crazy white blend that we call ‘Aeg’, short for ‘Aegis’…” Adam poured, charitably, “It’s a blend of three SB lots, one Chardonnay, one Viognier, and two different Grigio sites that our winemaker likes… high acid, lots of flavor, it’s fun. You know? Wine’s supposed to be fun.” He hoped that the jab at sourpuss wasn’t obvious, but at this point he didn’t care. He poured himself some.
“Oh!” the man said, liking the sight of the person pouring for him now pouring for himself, “Well, cheers new friend!”
“Cheers,” Adam said, both sipping, “Wow…”
“Do you want to take your pour outside, see if your friends want to join you or.. I don’t want to cause any problems, and I hope I haven’t.”
“Oh.. he’s having a morning, something with work, I don’t know, but aren’t you supposed to forget about work when you’re on vacation? It’s his problem. Not mine. Not ours.”
“You have to forget about every now and then,” Adam said, with as little inflection, hinting tone, or life as he could.
“So what’s next?” the man said.
“What would you like?”
“I don’t know.. you’re in charge.”