Would a wine connoisseur buy a bottle because it has a dog face on it? Surely, not.
But I'm surely not a wine connoisseur, so the outcome of my first Oregon wine tasting experience was entirely fitting to my oenophile standard.
Actually, it was my first wine tasting anywhere, a fact I stated repeatedly during my visit to the nearby Ankeny Vineyard this afternoon in hopes any faux pas I committed would be more easily forgiven.
I'm sure I made a few, but my wife was the only person who pointed one out to me. After a smidgen of the first red (we don't like white wine) was poured into my glass, I gulped it down.
"You're supposed to sip it!" Laurel said, and not in a whisper. I also didn't smell it. Or roll the wine around in the glass before drinking it, as I've seen oenophiles do in movies.
My assessment of the Ankeny Vineyard offerings also wasn't hugely sophisticated. After the first glass I said "This is good." After the second, I said "This is even better."
The even better was a Pinot Noir called Hershy's Red. It's aptly named after Hershy, a chocolate lab who ran up to greet us when we drove into the vineyard parking lot. He clearly was more interested in our dog, Serena, than the humans who accompanied her.
Now that I've read the label on the Hershy's Red I know what to say next time I have a taste.
"Grown near the valley floor in fertile Steiwer clay soil, these grapes ripen early in the fall, resulting in wine with complex dark fruit aromas with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and plum predominating."
Exactly. That's what I meant by my "even better." Just couldn't put it into those words.
The $18 I spent on this dog-faced bottle was a record for me, I think. I've only been drinking wine for a few years, after about thirty-five years of teetotaling. At first I wouldn't pay more than $10 for a bottle.
But my tastes have been getting more expensive. By and large I've been learning that you get what you pay for with wine, as with most other things.
Plus, one of the staff at LifeSource Natural Foods, where I buy most of my wine, told me once that $14 is the dividing line between "good" and "not-so-good" vintages. Meaning, you need to spend that much to get a decent bottle.
He used to work for a wine distributor and is a straight-shooting conversationalist, so I'm confident that he didn't tell me this just to increase the value of his store's wine sales.
Well, hopefully this $18 bottle of Hershy's Red won't whet my taste and lead me into even higher priced Pinot Noir territory.
A dog face on the label easily could be worth $4 though. Especially when the canine is willing (with a bit of coaxing) to pose with the purchaser.