Grape Juice With a Kick

Originally posted on October 21, 2014 – exactly 1.5 years ago. RIP, Prince Rogers Nelson. 

Tara and I met up with a friend to go wine tasting over the weekend. This was a new experience for us, and I gotta say, it made me feel like…


I like wine, but I’m hardly a connoisseur. Hell, it took me several tries just to spell the word connoisseur. And I’m a professional writer! The whole experience is rather intimidating if you’re a wine novice like me. The person pouring the wine is talking about “oakiness” and “tannins” and “a nice finish” and I’m thinking ooh, what a pretty shade of purple. 

And then there’s the tasting menu. How are you supposed to pluck out “notes of grapefruit and lavender with a butterscotch finish”? All I taste is grape juice with a kick.

I think I was thrown off by the town itself. When we made plans to go wine tasting, I was picturing stops like this…


Instead, we apparently wandered into that creepy town where the children of the corn resided.


That would be Carlton, Oregon. I’d never even heard of the place before Saturday. Is it any wonder? Apparently those who wander into town never leave. Was this my payback for flirting with a nun, I wondered?

Creepy signs aside, at least the wine tasting in Carlton was convenient. The main street looked like this: wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, jam shop, wine shop, wine shop. We got buzzed without walking more than half a block. And then after leaving town, we did stop at the nicer-looking winery pictured above. There, we got into a heated debate that did not involve pinot noir vs. syrah, but rather, Prince vs. Michael Jackson.

OK, maybe we were really buzzed at that point.

But I loudly contended that Prince was a far better music artist than the vastly overrated Gloved One. Our friend Chris, on the other hand, thought I had lost my marbles.

“Billie Jean!” she declared.
“Purple Rain!” I countered.
“Thriller. Zombies.”
“‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.'”
“Your guy changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol,” she said.
“Your guy dangled a baby over a ledge and bought the Elephant Man’s bones,” I responded.

We were both rallying the people tasting wine around us to our side. Chris got some random woman to agree with her, but then her husband sided with me. I think the whole thing ended in a draw, but c’mon…

…I’ll take Prince over Michael Jackson any day.

How ’bout you?


28 thoughts on “Grape Juice With a Kick

  1. My taste in wine is abysmal. I go in for the sweet stuff, which seems to mean that I’m unsophisticated. Tell me something I don’t already know. Fortunately, I’m great at playing pretend. I know what you mean about Carlton. I lived a little south of there, in Monroe, for a few years. When the clouds rolled in and the rain started it felt a lot like an episode of the X-Files. I’d say Twin Peaks, but there wasn’t a good diner in town.


  2. “Thriller” was at the height of popularity when I was in high school. I had a friend who played it over and over. I came to hate her, I mean it, very much. As for which “artist” is more musically talented, well, that is like choosing a wine. It’s a matter of taste, or not.


    1. There’s nothing worse than a song that has been played to death! Yes, you’re right about musical taste being subjective and personal, but I see that the 25th letter in your comment is P, followed by R (31), I (32), N (38), C (50) and E (63). Very clever and subtle way to side with me, Ms. Briggs. Thank you for your allegiance!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How have you lived in the Pacific Northwest and not toured wineries and done tastings??? I’d be going every weekend!

    Prince is a musical genius! I never understood why he isn’t more popular, but then again, he probably doesn’t want to be. I recently heard the Foo Fighters cover of Darling Nikki. Still great!


  4. Mark, as you know I’m a HUGE wine lover, but am by no means a connoisseur, I just know what I like. I’m a red wine drinker (Merlot, Cab, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and certain blends). Not only do I love the taste of wine, but I also love the whole ritual of selecting a wine, taking the cork off, pouring it, and pairing it with food. Right now, I’m into Cabs and Merlot’s because of the change in weather.

    I like both Prince and Micheal Jackson, for different reasons, because they’re completely different styles of music. In their own ways, I think they both rock!


    1. I do like a good merlot. Which is kind of odd, considering it’s one of the “bigger” red wines (to borrow a phrase I heard over the weekend).

      Fair statement about MJ vs. Prince!


  5. I am also not a connoisseur by any sense of the word, but I do love my red wines. I like Ron, do like Pinot Noir and Merlot, but I also love Bordeauxs. I also love wine tasting. 😀


      1. Its not bad – there’s some vineyards in CT and there’s one down on the cape. But there’s also a great liquor store near Boston that does wine tasting every Saturday and they have a different theme every week. Its a lot of fun, so a friend of mine and I go occasionally. 🙂


  6. It’s funny that I missed this post because I think we may have gone wine tasting on the same day. I was also a fish outta water but I found a great wine to take home and I had some fun. We went to a gorgeous winery and orchard though so no sketchy towns for us.

    As for your debate i am in the Michael Jackson camp. He has his weird quirks (like Prince doesnt?) but he is the King of Pop and that really cannot be debated.


  7. So you visited a place that reminds you of an episode of the X-files exactly 1.5 years prior to the subject of a heated debate unexpectedly dying. What exactly did go on behind that red door? Just who was listening. And why, if you were given this sort of power allowed to leave.


  8. I’m more of a beer guy than a wine guy, but every year we go wine tasting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and end up buying a case or so.

    As for Prince versus Jackson, Prince has a few tunes I like a lot and a lot I don’t like at all. Jackson has more tunes I like, but none of his are as good as Prince’s best ones.


  9. I was like, WTH, because this never appeared in my blogger feed last week. Now I see my former comment, so I guess my reader won’t display previous posts?

    Anyhoo….I still love smooth wines with hints of fruit, hate tobacco and cedar notes, and believe that Prince was a musical genius.


    1. I figured reposts won’t ever show as “new” even with the addition of new content – I had to do a lot of research to even figure out how to get this to appear at the top of my feed again. Turns out all you can do is change the date, but if it’s been posted once, that’s it. Oh, well – it’s here for posterity’s sake! Thanks for coming back again. 🙂


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