Dear Future Leslee,
I love my family. Whether they are supporting my ambitions, getting me tanked, helping me make good decisions, getting me plastered, applauding my hard work or just plain handing me drinks, my family is awesome. This year my grandfather split a batch of wine with me for my birthday, and again: I love my family.
My family owns one of those bottle-your-own-wine places that are cheap and interesting and make for a fun and easy way to collect massive amounts of wine. The “half a batch” mentioned above turned out to be about fourteen bottles of wine, which is pretty much the greatest present my grandfather has ever given me. Sure, he misspelled my name on the boxes, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me! He just doesn’t remember who I am.
My grandpa put the batch on back near my actual birthday in early May, and it was just ready to bottle when we went out last Wednesday. Bottling your own wine is not a particularly difficult process, but it is entertaining, especially when my family is involved. Welcome to the inside world of Ananny Estates, or as I like to call it, Leslee Brand Drinkin’ Wine!
First, you take a bijillion bottles of wine and you wash them fucking thoroughly. They have cool spray-ey taps to do this, and then this large red tentacle-monster looking thing to dry the bottles on. There is a complicated, suction-powered contraption that automatically fills your bottles up to just the right spot, then turns itself off to prevent spillage. Thank the sweet baby jesus.
After you’ve filled your bottle you put it into the pneumatic corking machine and it gets corked. GOOD AND CORKED. I’m not even going to bother making a joke here. This shit writes itself…
Of course, somewhere along the way (usually at the beginning) someone (usually my gramps) makes the astute observation that we obviously need to sample the wine, which generally turns into the four of us (my gramps, my Mamasita, my Auntie D and I) drinking about a bottle of wine before we even get it into the car. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but because my grandfather, my mom and my aunt all need to drive, it actually just turns into me drinking most of a bottle of wine by myself. Which is awesome.
As we were packing up, my grandfather (who is really too friendly for his own good) started talking to some dude, which turned into this amorphous conversation between this guy, me, my grandfather and the best-looking dude I have ever seen working in at the Wine Station. Okay, so he might be my cousin, but if I’m not sure then it’s okay, right? RIGHT?
Anyway, the story that my loving grandfather decides to tell this depressingly good-looking guy was, of course, about my adorable, awkward childhood. You see, when I was thirteen or fourteen, my French class had to write a speech about one of our grandparents. Everyone in my class was all like “My grandmother bakes cookies, mmm les biscuits!” and “My grandfather collects stamps” and “My grandmother knits mittens for the Salvation Army, la belle damme.” Not me, though. My story was different
I stood in front of my classmates. My friend Kelly had just brought the room to tears with her essay on her dead grandmother, but I wasn’t about to let real, heart-felt sentiment ruin my moment in the spotlight. So I began:
“My grandfather is a bigot. Mon grandpere est un bigote. He hates the French. He says we should kill all the people in Quebec, but leave six for pall-bearers. He also says that the Americans were lucky, because they got African-Americans and we got stuck with the French. Except he didn’t call them ‘the French’. And he did not say African-American.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen my French teacher laugh so hard. That was the best mark I ever got in her class, which taught me a valuable lesson: when old people are racist, it’s funny. Apparently. The cute guy at the Wine Station (who I might be related to, but you can’t prove it) also thought it was hilarious, or maybe he was just being polite so my grandfather wouldn’t beat him to death with his cane. I can’t be sure. I was pretty hammered.
Just so we’re clear: I don’t actually think racism is ever funny or right, I don’t hate the French (I actually really like French people! All of you. Y’all are so stylish) and I’m not trying to sleep with my cousins. Okay? Okay.
After we wrapped up the tale and packed up the wine the four of us had lunch at Kelseys and it was actually pretty good, especially the bit when a gust of wind blew the giant sun umbrella out of its massive steel holder and smacked my Mamasita in the face before blowing into the parking lot. Classic.
In other news, look for me soon on the first instalment of the Wine Jury, links to come, where me and the gang (including The Gritty Gorg and the Woman from How to Become Canadian) review various wines and other delightful drinkables.
Yours most sincerely,
P.S. For serious, not a racist, and I like the French. Promise!