the case of the missing wine.

after a long day of doing mostly nothing i made gnocchi with chicken and peas. i improvised on the sauce: milk, heavy cream, a block of blue cheese that needed to be used. it turned out pretty well as the saltiness of the cheese was diluted by the milk and cream. i’ve always had a knack for sauces, probably owing to my patience and meticulousness, rather than a knowledge of ingredients and their properties.

i decided to have a glass of wine (and soon after i was finished with that glass, the rest of the bottle). it was not in the fridge. like anyone in my situation (i say that to comfort myself, but, actually, i doubt it’s the case), i checked the garbage can and found my poor bottle of white wine, emptied of its contents and tied up in a plastic grocery bag along with the remnants of a six pack of light beer. my friend, though that term is becoming more frayed as time passes, drank it while i was away. i’m not particularly interested in talking about inconsiderateness, even though this is the person for whom i stopped eating nuts, for fear that i would accidentally bring something into the house that would lead to face-swelling and throat-closing, even when there was absolutely no chance anyone other than me would handle these groceries. i would alter my favorite recipes and check the panels of food containers to make sure someone hadn’t slipped in god’s only begotten nut a cashew or the sweet buttery kisses of macadamia or, and this was the worst for some reason, pignolia (yes, i mean pine nut, but i’m a proponent of not using the word nut as part of a nut’s name, like using filbert in place of hazelnut. plus filbert sounds like the name of that underdog uncle or cousin for whom you cannot help but root.) this is not what i want to talk about, because i will soon forget or forgive these injustices as i’ve forgotten and forgiven everything else. in short, if my heart were a nut, and if the size of a heart directly related to its capacity for forgiveness, then it would be a coco de mer. if my heart were an inedible nut and all that other stuff still applied, then it would definitely be this pecan in brunswick, missouri. (notice how having a twelve-thousand pound pecan only makes brunswick the pecan capital of missouri, not the world. at any rate, i think a road trip is looming. put the coffee on, mrs. james.)

what i actually wanted to write about here was the wine, which i researched after its disappearance, mostly so that i could be even more outraged. it comes from a region in california, between san francisco and los angeles, originally named el paso de robles, the pass of the oaks, which, in a decade, will be as well known as napa valley. the wine is named for another place in california, tres pinos, or three pines. the final spanish phrase on the bottle, tierra blanca, is not, so far as i can tell, a place in california. it is, however, the site of a major battle of the mexican revolution, where pancho villa overwhelmed jose salazar’s troops, who were more disciplined and had more artillery.

okay, maybe i don’t want to write much about the wine, because, honestly, how much can i write about wine i’ve never tasted (my sister determines a wine’s quality by the label: put a cute little fox or llama on the bottle (and charge $10 or less) and she’s yours).

instead i want to concentrate on this idea of oak and pine sharing the same turf. these trees were dichotomous, always at loggerheads, never growing beside each other, and the more digging i did, the more i learned about their uneasy shared history. to wit: during the american civil war a battle took place in henrico county, virginia. the two-day battle, in which both sides claimed victory, was the second largest battle in terms of casualties, about eleven thousand, up to that time. among the union soldiers it was remembered as the battle of fair oaks station, while the confederates called it the battle of seven pines.

from a tiny acorn comes a mighty oak. that is, keep stealing my wine if you want to experience northern aggression first hand.


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