March 5, 1999
I'm all in favour of people who can do things
for themselves. If you can change your own oil,
build a dresser or do your own taxes, my hat's off
You'll be a useful person to know when the
millennium comes and we're all running around cold
and in the dark, and being pursued by demon space
monkeys, or whatever.
But I still think there are a few things that
are better left to the professionals. Surgery comes
to mind. Alligator wrestling is another. Maybe
flying a commercial jetliner too, if I happen to be
Otherwise, I'm all in favour of enthusiastic
With the possible exception of home-made wine.
I'm far from a wine snob. My wine choices
usually have a lot more to do with the picture on
the outside of the bottle than what's in it. Show
me a label with a bird or a butterfly - and under
eight bucks - and I'm on my way home with a brown
bag under one arm.
Words like "oaky", "grassy" and "flinty" are
lost on me. They mostly make me think of what
falling flat on your face in a field would taste
Even with the palate of a peasant, I still think
wine making is best left to the experts.
The problem is everyone now has friends who are
members of wine-making clubs. They get together
with like-minded people to mix up 40 gallons of
At least the days of making it in the downstairs
bathroom are gone. Stores have sprung up all over
that will supply you with the ingredients and
equipment to become Ernest and/or Julio Gallo.
You can stir up a batch and forget it until
bottling time. It sounds like a good idea in
theory, except you end up taking a hundred bottles
of the stuff home.
And there's nothing more appetizing than wine
served out of an old ketchup bottle. Except maybe
wine in a bottle you know was scrounged from a
neighbour's recycling bin.
I went to a wedding a while back. At the
reception the bride announced that her first
husband was supplying the wine as his wedding
present. In normal circumstances I'd think it was
quite a generous and sportsmanlike gesture.
Until I tasted the wine.
The label said chardonnay, but it should have
been called "Ex-husband's Revenge". It could take
the silver off the cutlery. My fillings hadn't been
so bright and shiny in years.
My friends like to pull the old switcheroo on
me. I take a bottle of wine over for dinner, but it
sits on the counter while a bottle of "Chateau John
& Mary" is served. And it's always the extra
big bottle that you know you couldn't get through
if your life depended on it.
Call me ungracious (okay, I am ungracious) but
it's like bringing over steaks and then sitting
down to a mess of hotdogs.
Sure, their love and effort went into it, but
it's going into me. More importantly, it has to
fight its way past my taste buds first.
I repeat that some things are best left to the
experts, especially if the difference is only a few
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take out
my own appendix. How hard could that be?