The Life of a W(h)ine Glass

From supply store to spa, to shelf, to Pinot Vista tasting room tables

By Larry Kurtz

Tempranillo here. Hi! I’m hanging out in a wine supply store in McMinnville, Oregon, with my diverse group of wine glass friends. We’ve been carefully packed and wrapped in clear plastic boxes for weeks, just waiting for someone fun and cool to buy us. We have no idea what we’ll be doing if someone does buy us, but here we sit, watching and waiting. We realize we’re glasses but have no idea what a glass is and what it’s used for. Yeah, we know what we looked like when they boxed us up, but, nope, we know nothing more.

You’re probably wondering why I called us diverse. How can that be? It’s like this: All crated in here, there are eight stemmed glasses for reds, eight for whites, and eight Champagne flutes. How more diverse can you get? Not that we know what reds, whites and Champagne are!

Suddenly, “Oh, man, not him again!” hollers Noir.

This guy has been coming in here the last three days trying to decide if he wants to buy me and my buddies or not. “Dude, just buy us or leave us alone!” 

Dang! It looks like he’s decided to buy us. Into his cart, he tosses all 24 of us, accidentally cracking Cabernet but not realizing it. For the next few minutes, we ride around in his cart while he does some more shopping, Cabernet whimpering from the pain, and the rest of us fearing what’s in store since we don’t really know what we are. We’ve talked about the possibilities. We’ve had customers look at us and make comments, something about drinking from us and what they would drink, but that’s all we know. We don’t even know what drinking is.

This guy finally takes us to a counter and somewhat gently puts us on this moving platform. A lady greets him.

“Hi, Rich. How are things at the tasting room?”

“Pretty darn good, Sandra, but I need some new wine glasses. I’ve been looking for days, and these are the best I found, so they’ll have to do.”

“These are the best we have. Are you going to engrave them?”

“Yep, etching Pinot Vista on them this afternoon, then putting them to use Friday night.”

We get carefully put back into the cart and then pushed out the door. It sure is a bumpy ride to wherever we’re going, but finally we’re there. He opens up a door and gently places us inside, wrapping a blanket around us. Guess he’s worried about cracking another one of us, although he still doesn’t even know about poor Cabernet.

After a short ride, Rich stops, grabs us and goes through this door and into a large room with tables, chairs and a bar. We don’t know where we are, or why we’re here, but we find out soon enough. Rich idly chats with a lady named Darcy who must work there, discussing the weather, how busy she’s been, blah, blah, blah. 

Finally, she asks, “What have you there?”

“I just bought 24 new glasses. I’m getting them etched for the tasting room.”

I hear Chardonnay from the other side of the box, “What’s etching? I’m a little nervous about that.”

No one knows, but, like before, we find out soon enough.

We’re taken into a little room and set on a desk. Rich hauls out this contraption that looks like just that, a contraption. He puts it beside us on the desk, opens a door on one side, puts our buddy Pinot inside and shuts the door. He pushes a button, and we hear a whirring sound. We also hear Pinot groaning and moaning. This lasts about 45 seconds. Rich opens the door and takes out Pinot, who looks different. He has scratches on one side, but he sighs happily as Rich inspects him, then sets him aside.

Pinot exclaims, “Wow, can I do that again?”

Rich reaches for another one of us, which happens to be Cabernet.

“Damn,” he growls, “Cracked. I’ll be getting some money back from that place,” not realizing he’s the guilty party.

Suddenly, he tosses Cabernet into the trash, breaking her into shards as if she’s just some piece of garbage and not one of our friends. It happens so quickly, Cabernet has no time to react.

Rich next picks up Sauvignon and places her into the machine, with the same results as Pinot. He spent the next couple of hours doing this to all of us. We actually enjoyed it, realizing that Pinot wasn’t really groaning and moaning but oohing and aahing.

What came next, however, threw us into a tizzy: Rich opened a short silver door, placed the 23 of us into what he called a rack with some other glasses, strangers to us. He closed the door.

Rosé screamed, “What the hell, it’s too dark!” Blanc shouted, “It’s too crowded! I’m claustrophobic! Get me out of here!” Then, WHAM! A big spray of warm water hit us, soaking us all. More screaming, more phobias; it was crazy in there. White Zin was choking, gasping and crying. Riesling fainted. The other glasses just chuckled.

I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something. “All right, you reds, whites and flutes, listen up.” I sprang into coach mode, something I learned watching the TVs in the store. “We have no idea what’s going on, but it must be something we are made for. We need to toughen up and deal! You got it? I know, at least for some of you, fear has taken over, but the rest of us are here for you. Snuggle up to each other, and let’s get through this.”

It seemed to work. I heard no more fussing and complaining. Even when the soap began to suds up, no one said a word — although there was some weeping. And just as suddenly as the water started, it stopped. Then, this warm feeling came over us. All I could hear were sighs and giggles.

The door opened. Darcy stood there looking at us. Brut hollered, “Close that door! It’s cold out there,” but she didn’t. Instead, she gently picked us up, one by one, dried us off with a warm towel and set us on a shelf with the others. We had a nice view overlooking the place but still didn’t know what we were doing here.

We asked “the others,” but they just ignored us, except for one. “You’ll find out soon enough,” he said.

The next day, Rich puttered around the place until, suddenly, he unlocked the doors, turned on even more lights and welcomed a new person. “Who is this?” we all gasped. We didn’t know much about people, just who we had seen in the wine supply store.

“Hey, Rich.”

“Hi, Carmine. Guess you have your choice of where to sit.”

Rich turned and grabbed Pinot off the shelf. He set him on the bar as we looked on, some with anguish, not knowing what would happen to him, and some with hope, praying for good things for Pinot. Rich grabbed a funny-looking bulbous thing filled with liquid. He put this screwy-looking thing into the top, and popped out this thing we later learned was a cork. Then, he poured the contents into Pinot. We held our breath, the glass-half-empty group from fear; the glass-half-full guys out of hope. Pinot looked up and winked with the letter “P” from the etching. “Whew!” we all sighed. Next, a young couple entered. “Welcome to Pinot Vista. Will you be tasting or would you like a glass?”

As time passed, we learned our roles and the people around us. Rich, Darcy, Jude, or whoever was serving, gently took us off the shelf and poured this wonderful liquid into us. It comes in various shades of reds and whites, and in various styles for the people, who are, like us, very diverse.

We learned to enjoy the experience, but we didn’t necessarily always care for the people. Most were just wonderful. Polite. Caring. Gentle. Then there were the funky few. I remember the first time Pérignon had a problem. He was gone quite a while, including time in the dishwasher. And, he was darn glad he had the spa time. “Man, that was nasty,” he said, when he was returned to the shelf. “I hope none of you ever have to get lipstick slathered all over your rim.” We all laughed, even though we didn’t know what lipstick meant — that is, until later, when most of us got to experience it.

Then there was Syrah and his ordeal. We reds are constantly swirled. We mostly enjoy it because it entertains us so we don’t have to just sit there on the table between sips. Syrah, much to his dislike, got an over-swirler.

“Wow, you talk about dizzy. I didn’t have even one second of calm. That guy swirled and swung me the whole time,” Syrah said. “He spent more time swirling, with an occasional sniff, than drinking and enjoying. It was nauseating!”

Okay, so maybe life as a glass isn’t always great, but actually we have very little to whine about. We love the afternoon tastings with all the people who drop in. It’s fun to swap stories after closing and, of course, there are the many trips to the spa. Some like looking out the window watching people walk by. And, we all get to look up to see the wonderful art of John Stromme through his gallery window — this is a big plus.

I’ve purposefully saved the best for last, our favorite night of the week: Friday! We experienced it our first night on the job. Almost every Friday at 5:30, we welcome our musician friends.

I holler, “Here they come! John and John and Corey and Doug. Gang, it’s set up time for Bramble Rose, and music time for us!” I always hear a lot of cheering from my diverse group of peers. “All right, let’s party!”

And if Bramble Rose doesn’t perform, we get to enjoy Dan Seymour and Friends. Yeah, Friday nights are the best! Delightful customers, fun music, a dip in the spa before we return to the shelf, and just hanging out at Pinot Vista.

“Rich, you’re the best! Thanks for grabbing us that day, even if you did break Cabernet!”

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