Drinking with the Viking

My friend Loraine is my favorite travel buddy, but the downfall of spending free or vacation time with her is that I get lulled into false sense of alcohol-related security.  I get caught up in the fun, and I forget that I can’t and shouldn’t match her drink for drink.  You see, she is six feet tall and of Scandinavian descent.  I am not.

She and I met in Houston over Memorial Day weekend in 2011.  She drove in from Austin, and I flew down from Dallas.  She picked me up from the airport, and then we had lunch.  I introduced her to my favorite jewelry store in Houston, Fly High Little Bunny.  Commerce happened.  It’s not important how much.

Then we went to Sonoma, a wine bar, where we each drank a flight of champagne.  As we chatted with the staff, it came out that we had met the owners of the bar in Napa a few months earlier.  The bartender offered us another glass of wine if we let her take our picture and use it on the Sonoma Facebook page. Loraine and I are not churls, so we agreed.

We ate dinner at the Astros game, where Loraine paid a million dollars for a tiny beer, and I spent half a million on a bottle of water.  So far, so good.

Then we got back to the hotel, and that’s where things went terribly, terribly wrong.  Because Loraine was fresh from passing her sommelier exam and was still in learning mode, she was spending more time with vertical flights.  I brought a bottle of 2004 Hanna Bismarck Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and a bottle of 2005 Hanna Bismarck Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon for us to taste.  It’s the shortest vertical flight you can drink, but it still qualifies.

I still haven’t figured out where my good judgment went that evening, but it was nowhere to be found when I matched Loraine glass for glass on those two bottles of California cab.  After the day of drinking we’d had, I still thought it was a good idea to add a bottle of rich red to the mix.

Loraine slept like a baby. I had a night of unpleasantness.

At brunch the next morning, Loraine drank two glasses of champagne that had a couple of drops of orange juice for color. I looked longingly at the mimosas, but I abstained due to the previous night’s carnage.  We went to a play at the acclaimed Alley Theater, and then we met other friends for cocktails at Anvil, my favorite cocktail bar.  The kind and understanding bartender there recommended and mixed a cocktail, Pliny’s Tonic, which soothed my stomach but not enough to allow me to drink a single glass of red wine with my Italian dinner at Dolce Vita.

After dinner, Loraine and I headed to Spotlight Karaoke.  We sat at the bar between songs and chatted with the bartender.  I ordered cranberry juice, and Loraine ordered a raspberry Stoli, but neither of us were able to drink much.  This is when the bartender said conversationally, with a little bit of pity but not a drop of judgment, “You girls are lightweights, aren’t you?”

Loraine and I didn’t have the energy to do much more than smirk, but the thought flitted through my head that yes, I am a lightweight, and I had to do a better job remembering that in the future.  Regrettably, I’ve only been partially successful. We went to Buenos Aires in December of 2012, where we did a tasting with a sommelier named Nigel Tollerman.  The private tasting with Nigel is expensive but generous – we tasted eight bottles of wine, all of which were leaving with us.  I’d already had a glass of wine before we arrived, then after we tasted all eight wines, this happened:

Nigel:            Try the pinot noir again.  Close your eyes so you can taste it better.

Loraine:       Oooohh – that’s really opened up!  Even more than with the double aeration.

Me:                Yes, it’s lovely, but I can’t swirl with my eyes closed, plus, closing my eyes is giving me the spins.

Loraine:       Charlotte.  Why do you have the spins?

Me:                LOOK.  I keep telling you – I’m not of European descent.  I’m of Asian descent.  I’m a 5’4” tall woman of Asian descent trying to drink with a –

Nigel:            – Viking!

And so now Loraine is the Viking.  I ended up not experiencing any unpleasantness, but it was close.  I continue to flirt with danger and drink with Loraine, but I’ve finally learned to be wary when alcohol is involved.  Fingers crossed that it’s a class I don’t have to take again.

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1 Response to Drinking with the Viking

  1. Pingback: Travels with the Viking: Iron Horse | Travel, Food, and Life

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