"Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor, 'Cause I don't think that I can take anymore…"

by Katie Pizzuto on June 1, 2010

in Wine

Fear and Loathing In The Garden State

When the sun is beating down on you in an open field, where weekend winos beg to be sold the latest contraption in “wine accessories” that are built for a buck and sold for five, and bored children, dragged to the outing by those weekend winos, fight for attention at the Make-Your-Own Tie Dye kiosk, patience becomes the most quickly abandoned virtue. It’s not long before your head begins to scream in dull agony, and you’re not quite sure whether to blame the unrelenting heat, the mediocre wine or the herds of winos packed so tightly by the pourers you’d swear they were heading for slaughter. But regardless of who or what you blame, decapitation becomes a sensibly viable option at that point.

It seemed like a relatively harmless idea to drag 5 other adults and a 12-year-old with me to an outdoor festival for NJ wines, but then again I’m a masochist, and perhaps need to reevaluate my sources of entertainment. There were notebooks involved and sun block, and a decent blues band (albeit white-boy blues band) cranking in one corner, but man there were oceans upon oceans of fucking blueberry wine, surging toward me with the singular mission of drowning my sorrows. My sorrows, much to their dismay, had learned to swim. I had been told that my hard hatred for Jersey wine was blind prejudice—that it was unfair to make a blanket statement about a state’s wines. I had also been given cause to doubt my stance because a couple of wineries in Cape May are now making great wine. Perhaps, I thought, things have changed. Perhaps I need to revisit Jersey wine. 20 bucks later I realized I was still right, and I want my money back. If possible, I’d like my 3 hours back, too.

It was Tomasello’s fault now that I think about it. I had pushed and elbowed and hip-bumped my way through the barflies, those that felt the need to taste every single wine from every single winery because, after all, they wanted their 20 bucks worth, and made my way up to Tomasello’s pourer…my first of the day. And she had the nerve—the unmitigated gall—to pour me a lovely, crisp, well-balanced, sparkling Blanc de Blanc Brut made from the local Vidal Blanc grape. And two doors down, at Auburn Road, there was a bright, ripe, lightly oaked chardonnay with absolutely no flab. But after that, my notes became more rants than anything else, loaded with question marks, exclamation points and expletives even I couldn’t make out. What was that I wrote? Shit fest or short ferment?

“Did you see the local news guy, Katie?”

“You mean the one with the microphone sitting idly in his hip holster and the full glass of wine in his hand? Yeah, I saw him.”

By now the sun was high above us, declaring its potency by pushing the mercury upwards of 90° and yet not a single winery had the forethought to cool off their reds. Sure every white, pink, sweet and sparkling wine was in an ice bath, but the reds? Fuck ‘em. Nothing like tasting a cab franc that’s been basking in a 90° sauna for a couple of hours. Yum. Unoaked chards tasted oaky, dessert wines tasted acidic, and the word “green” kept playing itself over and over again in my head, like a bad rendition of The Beatles’ Revolution 9. By the time I was three-quarters of the way around the damned parade of plonk, I couldn’t muster the energy to fight the crowds simply in order to be poured another under-ripe mess or another cloyingly sweet mess…take your pick. But not to be outdone by their fellow statesmen, Renault Winery, one of Jersey’s most well-known wineries, and also its oldest (which now apparently is also a resort and golf club, in which case perhaps they should stick to that and give up wine making) had the balls to still be using the names “Champagne,” “Chablis” and “Burgundy” on their labels. My stomach churned before I even got to taste their wines.

After nearly three hours, my folks were nowhere to be found, my in-laws were off buying jewelry and I had thrown myself down at the mercy of the grass and dirt, digging in my purse for Tylenol like a junky that’s just dropped their last needle in a haystack. The kid in all his bountiful mercy came up behind me and handed me a glass of Fuze Banana Colada to toss back the two tablets, and in a moment of what must have been sheer palate fatigue I asked, “What is this, Unionville’s Riesling?”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 PintofStout June 1, 2010

Beautiful. Nothing reads quite like frustration and anger. It made my weekend posthumously better. T’anks.


2 Coupe 60 June 2, 2010

Wow, you are a really good writer Katie…You should consider writing a book… 🙂 🙂


3 Katie Pizzuto June 3, 2010

Thanks guys. At least I came away with a nice tan.


4 Don June 13, 2010

Awesome! Just Awesome! Hey, at least you have a little heat this summer. I haven’t so much as broken a sweat, and my jacket is so filthy, but I can’t wash it because I use the damn thing every day. You need to see your glass as half full, and next time you get the urge to go to a festival…don’t. You’ll thank me.


5 Katie Pizzuto June 13, 2010

Oh, I love the heat, Don…Cubans don’t do well with winter…but when you’ve tasted 50+ crappy wines, the sun is not your friend, even if you’ve spit half of them out. Half full/half empty…either way, I say FILL IT UP! 🙂


6 Chris June 15, 2010

Ugg, we made this mistake a few years ago when it was held at the Waterloo Village. Gourmet food as advertised was the standard carnival fare. The baking sun and a luke warm blueberry wine made us crave for a cold beer.


7 Katie Pizzuto June 15, 2010

Spot on, Chris…as soon as we got back to my folk’s house and the headache subsided, the first thing I did was crack a beer open. Wait ’til you see next week’s post on the Great American Food and Music Fest I went to at the Meadowlands. It will truly be an Angel/Demon write-up. I think I’m done with festivals, like Don suggested.


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