Pinot’s Skinny Sister & The Stoned TV Girlfriend

by Albert Berkshire

The plan was free of complexities. Simple, even. But those are the ones that always go awry.

I walked into the wine cellar to get a bottle of wine, intent on sipping a glass whilst eating popcorn and watching my TV girlfriend show me how to make a great vegan curry sauce.

Simple, no?

No. The popcorn, I think, is a vicarious salute to the buzz said TV girlfriend seems to have…in every episode. I’d like to say it’s a California thing, but living in BC has taught me it’s pretty much everywhere. Some people always look and act like they are stoned. Still, I’m not one to run from a vicarious case of the munchies if it’ll net me a bowl of popcorn – and a good recipe that’ll impress my real-life honey. (The later still needs serious work) And while I haven’t indulged in a long, long time (my drug of choice is adrenaline, okay..and wine), I can appreciate the humour that comes from stoner food jokes. Even the vegan ones. Okay, especially the vegan ones. Veggies are funny, yo. (I have no idea where that came from.)

The wine is a whole other story. Wine has always been a sipping thing for me. It’s one of the few things I enjoy slowly. It’s not to be rushed. No one I’ve ever met has suggested a wine chugging contest. No one shoots their wine, although the wine festivals and tasting nights always seem to be wine-shorter nights by the time we roll out into the street. Wine, for me, has become the writing drink. Something to get me past the first 45-minute mark.

Let me clarify: Years ago, and I can’t remember the presenter, but I learned that when writing, we often take about 45 minutes to get into the flow. Now, how one defines flow is likely a more personally thing, but the idea, I think, is that we find our pace, our place, and the words for those whom we are creating a dialogue or a scene. In many cases, I’ll go back and rewrite what I wrote in that time, after I think I’ve finished writing for the day. Wine, I sometimes find, makes that dreaded, and rather painful-to-every-writer first 45 minutes pass a little faster. It’s the elevator, in lieu of the stairs.

The wines are not easy to select. I’ve been, for quite a few years, a merlot or cab-sav kind of guy. I like meaty wines. (Odd description, I might add, for someone who doesn’t eat meat). I like smoky reds that own the glass. Ones that look like you could float a rock in the glass. Syrahs do it for me, too. Heavy, full-bodied, big-in-the-hips wine that are as sensual to look at as the are bold to pour. I love a wine that needs to breath. And then breathe some more. I mean, why rush a good thing. Anticipation is for more than just storytelling.

A cab-franc or a meritage has never impressed me – although I do have a case of Harry McWatters’ ’07 Meritage in the cellar. If you’re a wine-o, and you know his story, you’ll smile a little about that. And then there’s pinot noirs.

Pinots are pouty little brats. They’re like valley girls without the Becky lines. Like Lea Thompson’s Amanda Jones, they just sit there, feeling under appreciated, wanting to be noticed, yet do little to inspire you. Silent, uninteresting, see-through.

And then you taste a great pinot noir. And then everything changes. Gone is the first impression of watered down church wine (Catholic school, friends.). The flavours open up and the trash-in-a-glass is suddenly holy and apostolic. That’s the moment you think there could actually be a god (again, friends, Catholic school). That’s when you know you have a great pinot noir. And that’s then the first bit of writing inspiration hits at not the 45-minute mark, but there – in the moment the wine is on your lips.

Or maybe, just my lips.

What I didn’t know before a recent wine-tasting trip along the Naramata Bench, was Pinot Noir has a skinny little sister. Her name in Joie. Joie, I’ve known for some time as one of my wife’s favourite wineries – mostly for A Noble Blend. But this Joie delight is known as PTG (pronounced in the French way, I was told, Peyh-tay-Jhey). Yes, Pinot’s skinny little sister is something wonderful.

At least on this palate. And this page.

Wine is a wonderful writing tool. Joie Farm’s PTG is a must if you like a pouty little pinot.

Or just to lube your evenings at the keyboard.

The TV, by the way, never made it to the on position. The popcorn is gone. The wine, I’m happy to report, is still hanging on my palate.

The latter being some kind of wonderful.

Reads like Joy. Tastes like joy. Pronounces like zhwah.
Reads like Joy. Tastes like joy. Pronounces like zhwah.

Albert Berkshire is a storyteller. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually thinking about writing. Sometimes he’s just having a glass of wine. His first novel of fiction, We Made A Pact, is published by Friesen Press. It is available in hardcover, paperback, and in various e-book formats. Just follow the links if you’d like to check it out. Public reviews are always welcome. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, Albert is found on Twitter @albertberkshire, and semi-socially at