Jared Wines Down

IMG_5500All good things must come to an end.

In this case, the “good thing” is an incredible trip through parts of Europe, where castles, distilleries, restaurants, vineyards and wineries graciously received me for the past four months. A blink of an eye, really. And while I do wish I could keep going, there’s always something to be said for being satisfied with what your given.

What I’ve been given is an opportunity and experience I’ll not forget any time soon, if ever. The people I’ve met throughout this trip, both abroad and throughout the U.S., have been amazing. I can’t emphasize enough how valuable it is to actually converse with those closest to the passions I write about. Winemakers, chefs, market owners, tour guides, and many, many others have made this trip worth every penny. My inexpressible gratitude goes out to all those who gave this humble visitor time and attention.

Just as important and profound for myself was all the wonderful interaction that took place on this blog. My ever-lasting thanks to all of you who listen to (and sometimes watch) me, read my words, and in general terms, tolerate my long-winded and goofy nature. Without you, -sniffle- I’m nothing! I hope you’ve gained some well-deserved inspiration, new information, or at the very least, amusement from this blog so far.

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I have some closing thoughts and realizations I’d like to share with all of you. Some of the more humorous and personal stories never made it into this blog, and that’s probably a good thing, since the focus here is supposed to be food, wine, and travel. But that’s about to change, if only for one post…

And The Award goes to:

The Italians, for being the most annoyingly beautiful people on the planet. In a country full of intensity, they are also the coolest. Literally and figuratively. It can be 90+ degrees without a puff of breeze in the air, and you won’t see them sweat. Ever. I’ve been there twice now and each time I was blown away by how polished everyone was. While I sweated and grunted around the hill towns, men wearing designer sweaters (!) would breeze by me and look like they just stepped out of a GQ magazine. And the women? My God…

I went to one of Italy’s bigger supermarkets, Il Borgo, and upon entering saw this woman, strikingly beautiful, slowly pacing back and forth just inside the entry-way like a big cat. She had long, black hair and was wearing a pseudo-combat jumpsuit, matching black combat boots, and a firearm on her hip. I am not making this up. It took me a second to realize that this was the store’s security guard. I slowly walked by her trying not to stare and contemplated shoplifting some provolone. She caught me looking at sneered back, resting her hand on her holster. Momma-Mia. Why can’t we have rent-a-cops like that back in the states?

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It should be said, however, that the truly beautiful people in Italy seem to be of the older generation. While the younger Italians obviously spend A LOT of time prepping and dressing, there’s a certain class and grace to the seniors that gives one hope for the aging process. Clearly, many people in Italy mirror the process of a wine’s life cycle and just get better with age…

The British, for having the most awkward way of conversing with one another. Let me say first that I’ve been absolutely charmed by the people of Scotland and many of the English people I’ve encountered here as well. They are almost always ultra-polite and helpful. But there is this habit of apologizing, no matter what the context, for whatever scenario you can imagine. I once sat inside a pub and watched this scenario unfold:

Pub owner: (storms out of the back room, looking royally pissed off) “John- do you have a second? I need to speak with you about this new applicant.”

John, who happens to be the bartender on hand: (looks up slowly, obviously irritated that he’s being interrupted from wiping down the bar):

“…what’s the issue?”

Pub owner: “I was just going over the message you left me for her inquiry, and you failed to leave a contact number for her. I’ve no way to reach her…”

At this point, John the grumpier, has set down his bar rag and is now facing the bigger pub owner straight on.IMG_5506

John: “Hmm… (looks at the message) Well, I can tell you that I thought I had written it down. She called, I took the message and that was that.”

Pub owner: (now looking like he’s the one who screwed up and visibly shrinking) “Right, well, sorry to bring this up, but I just want to be able to reach her since we need the help.”

John: “Yeah, right. Sorry about that- don’t know what I was thinking…”

Pub owner: “Well it’s no bother, really, and I am sorry to bring this up, but I just thought I’d ask.”

John: Right, right, of course. Again, sorry ’bout that!”

Pub owner: That’s all right, sorry to bring it up anyway.”

I sat there at my little pub bench, sipping a pint and wondering what the hell all that was about. It was painful to watch and I felt like somebody ought to apologize to me for all of that. Weeks later, I saw and heard the same type of thing on the train to Glasgow. The conductor was apologizing profusely to the guy who didn’t have a ticket. Of course, the passenger was giving it right back to him. Good Lord. You can see this philosophy on many of the signs in shops and restaurants as well. “Regrettably, we do have the right to ask anyone who is suspected of abusing our staff to promptly leave the premises… sorry.” O.K., that last sorry was fictional, but you start to wonder what these people are not sorry for. Milk in their tea, perhaps… sorry.

The Germans, for the most eerily efficient and systematic people in the world. That’s debatable, I suppose, but my experience there was one where I never really felt lost or confused – even though I don’t speak a lick of Deutsch. And not just in the bigger, touristy cities either. Even the little cutesy wine villages out in the country have a certain order about them. It’s at once impressive and unsettling, and it’s no wonder many German tourists (particularly in places like Italy) look so frazzled and disapproving.

And this is why I was so perplexed when I encountered utter chaos in the Cologne airport. We were returning to Scotland, catching an easy-going 11 A.M. flight to Edinburgh. Easy, right? Wrong. It was like Mordor opened the black gate and orcs were running mad. No lines. No clear messages on the slick LCD terminal displays. No clue. Madness ruled the morning and somehow, with maybe the luck of some cosmic Valkyries, we made it onto our plane.

*    *    *

IMG_5484And so, the adventure across the pond comes to an end. By next week, I’ll be gladly eating burritos and watching the NY Giants lay waste to all comers. And while the glass(es) of wine here must inevitably pour out, so too do more glasses get filled.

The fun doesn’t end here, and I’ll be posting from various states across the good ole’ U.S. of A. The second cross country trip in six months will commence shortly from now- I can’t wait to drink it all in.

With many more toasts ahead of us,

Jared


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~ by Jared on September 5, 2009.

18 Responses to “Jared Wines Down”

  1. I hate to see your adventure in Europe come to an end! It has been such fun to be with there with you. But, I know that the fun will continue as you again cross the good old USA.

    • Hi Kita,

      You bet it will… Lord knows there’s all sorts of blueberry wine and sweet muscadine waiting for me in the heartland!! Thanks for coming along w/ me, and here’s to much, much more fun!

      Cheers,
      Jared

  2. Let the fun never stop. Is Portland the destination of this second cross country sojourn?

    • Hi Robert,

      Now you didn’t think I would forget about the mecca of food and wine in the NW, AKA Portland, did you?

      I’ll be rolling in there sometime this fall, tired, dusty and ready to taste!

      Cheers,
      Jared

  3. It seems like you just started! Have a wonderful trip back and enjoy the ride cross country. Wisconsin for Brats and beer! And when you get back to Portland the gilrs will have some eggs waiting for you.

    • Will do, CM… thanks for all the support throughout the trip. I never mentioned this, but the eggs here were fantastic. Don’t know why, but really, really good. And they’re not refrigerated in the stores.

      Sorry I didn’t get to taste more cheese and visit more cheese shops. Next time, I promise!!

      Cheers,
      Jared

  4. You blink and it’s over but you blink and it all comes back to you, forever with you!!! What an experience you have had!!! I envy you!
    Have a great trip cross out great US of A. Hope to see you when you stop here in Portland if I am here too!
    Ciao, Jared!

    • Thanks B.J.

      I hope to see you too- maybe our paths will cross when your heading east and me west. Wait… you’ll be a couple miles up in the air, and I’ll be avoiding speeding tickets on the interstate. ooops.

      Thanks again for all the interest and interaction!

      Jared

  5. Jared,

    Your galavanting hurtled me down memory lane, nourished me with culinary inspiration, provided me something splendidly well written to savor for a few minutes and made me laugh hysterically with you, at you … Your witty, sarcastic, wine hazed impressions of the world have been an absolute treat. Merci mille fois!

    • …”at” me??

      Merci, mon bel ami! I thought of you and your delicious cooking often over here (well, maybe not in Scotland, but other places for sure).

      Great to hear from you and you’ll be hearing more from me and my zany adventures soon…

      Sante,
      Jared

  6. Jared,
    I am glad your two are returning to Portland, though I am wondering if you will be here in time to get a hug and see the belly. I am already feeling like a boxing ball.
    We leave on the 23rd. and I cross my fingers that ours paths will cross.
    Thank you for your blogs…. you are one hell of a funny dude… it is nice to know that you are out there taking in the world with a good sense of humor and funny glasses on. And I hope that you both can come visit us in Denmark. Boy, I sure can’t wait for the blog after that visit… hehehehe
    Take care, and email me when you are back in town.

    • Mamma-pajama,

      I would have LOVED to seen you guys in your home turf! Damn. But there’s always another time, and there will be another time. I’ll try me best to get out there by then so I can say hi to all three of you. I’m sure you’re beautiful still, even with a protruding bowling ball. And you’ll be, without a doubt, an incredible mother.

      Be well, amiga, and I’ll contact you when I get closer.
      ~Jared

  7. Looking forward to catching up on this side of the pond. G-man is keeping the WII warm (be warned)! Loved the journey on the blog, looking forward to what continues.
    Your pals, hugs and a smile C & G.

  8. Hi guys,

    Thanks so much for all the great interaction and interest in my travels over the last 5 months. It kind of feels like you were along for the ride!

    Keep that Wii (and a wine glass or two) warm for me!
    See you sometime real soon.

    Many cheers,
    Jared

  9. Glad to hear you’re coming back to Portland!!!! Although, someone at work asked me if you were returning to the wine department… (I told them, “Not likely!”) Hopefully, we can get together when you get here! Thanks for the posts! It was like I was there!

    Best, Jess

  10. Hi Jared! We are so excited to have your knowledge and expertise in WA. Tracy & I enjoyed our wine tasting experience at Cascade Cliffs last Sat and look forward to visiting again soon. I need to pick up another glass, I don’t know what I was thinking only buying one. Anyway, thanks for sharing your blog site. Good stories!!

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      Great to hear from you and I’m glad you and Tracy had a good time at the winery. Did you make it to Walla Walla? Lunch… BIG lunch! 😉

      Come back and see us any time at the winery (big party this Saturday… I’m just sayin’.) and let me know ahead of time when you do. I’ll give you guys a full tour of the vineyard and winery if you’d like. Also, feel free to email me (jaredwinesup@gmail) with any questions about the strange and crazy world of wine. I’ll be happy to try and answer any questions.

      Cheers!
      Jared

      • Nice…we will want a tour for sure! Yes, lol, we had a big lunch and made it to Walla Walla at 5:30! That’s the short story! 😕 … Sarah

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