Wine Bar Date

I wasn’t sure if this was a date. Yes, We’d done the usual song and dance but we could just be “hanging out.” It was 2013 after all.

What I did know was that this ambiguity was leading me toward finishing half a bottle of cheap Riesling while straightening my hair. Cheap Riesling is perfect for that–citrusy and fresh, I’ve found it to be an excellent substitute for a girlfriend when the need for primping arises.

(sip, sip, sip.)

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

I should also mention there were flash flood and severe wind warnings going on during this primping session. Hurricane Sandy was swirling toward NYC at full speed, so we decided to meet along the waterfront in Brooklyn.

(sip, sip, sip. there goes the bottle.)

I should also mention that from the moment I slid past the plaid-covered doorman, it was clearly a date. All the hallmarks were there: dim lighting, soft jazz, unobtrusive waitstaff. And there he was, at a table with a great view of the door.

“No getting out of this now,” I thought before giving him one of those big, fake, “I guess we should hug now” hugs.

I should also mention there was a 20-page wine list, filled with obscure, intimidating names and large numbers. Also, no cheap Riesling.

He ordered something French and red.

(sip, sip, sip, smile.)

As often happens in bars, another customer slid through the doors and floated over to the bar about five minutes later. I dismissed him after a casual gaze.

“That’s my best friend,” said my date. “Would you mind if he joined us for a drink?”

“Sure,” I said, not thinking much of anything at this point.

(sip, sip, sip.)

Dulled, or perhaps inspired by wine, I thought to myself, “This is just a sort-of date in the middle of a hurricane, why not make it a group thing? All the trains are shutting down anyway. How could this go badly?”

As the rain started pelting the glass windows by our table, it did go badly. Terribly, actually.

Along with the wine–two more bottles of anonymous French red–elitist jargon flowed like a river after a monsoon. Malolactic this, residual sugar that, volatile acidity something or other.

(sip, sip, sip, hair flip.)

It seemed never ending. How on earth had I wound up at the oenophile snob club meeting? How had this “date” morphed into a science-driven bro fest?

Now they were on to some type of “orange wine” debate: skin contact fermentation vs. aging in foudre vs. Giacomo someone or other.

More importantly, how could I escape? Were the Sandy flood waters already impassable?

It was time to take control of the pseudo-date, and not just because the rain would ruin my hair if we stayed at this snobby wine bar any longer.

It was time to enter un-attractive mode. No more petite bites of foie gras toast. No more polite smiles or impeccably-timed giggles.

It was time to derail the uppity club the best way a girl sometimes can.

It was time for beer.

(sip, sip, sip, glass-draining glug.)

“I don’t think I can handle another bottle,” I said as the server poured the last crimson drops into our glasses.

“Where to next?” said my date.

Sure as hell not my place, I thought, and responded:

“Well, I know this bar with free pizza,” figuring that would never do for such a sophisticated oenophile.

Also figuring these smartypants wine drinkers couldn’t possibly talk so much about beer.

“Sounds great.”

The plan half worked. The best friend departed, clearly too chic for something as plebian as draft beer.

Off we went, battling the the 50mph winds, for Stella Artois and pizza.

(there goes the straight hair.)

Through the creaky door, past the enormous security guard, at a terribly lit bar with tons of Stoli bottles, I finally breathed a sigh of relief.

The cards were in my hands now. Along with the pizza.

If this guy can handle the dive bar, maybe there’s hope, I thought.

(Stella Artois on draft, Jameson shot.)

And he could. Sports talk, travel talk, NORMAL TALK. Enough talk for several drinks, and for the sidewalks to start flooding.

I should also mention, we’re still seeing each other. Sometimes, all it takes is beer.

Laura Burgess is a Certified Sommelier and libations enthusiast. She can often be found (mis)adventuring with Port in hand and stilettos on her feet. For more on Laura check out or follow her on Twitter @LauraUncorked.

Header image via