C he er s!
My mother kept two round jugs of wine in the refrigerator at all times. We named
them Ernie and Julio, after the brothers Gallo, their namesake. One was filled with
red, the other pink—my mother had no real use for white. The only other bottle of
wine in our house, that I can recall, was wrapped in wicker and donned with melted
wax, compliments of the candle jammed into the top.
It wasn’t until my very first dinner date that I learned that wine was actually something
included on a list. It was also unexpected that my date would order escargot. But there
I was: with a girl who asked the waiter (a guy with a fake French accent) to bring snails
to the table. To eat. I was clearly out of my league. The waiter asked what we wanted to
drink with dinner. Back at home if we were to drink anything with dinner, it was either
Ernie or Julio, and it didn’t seem to matter which since I tended to pour from the brother
that was the least empty. Looking over the thick list, I immediately realized there was nothing
on it even remotely familiar. The wines appeared to be organized by geographic regions—the
Gallos conspicuously absent. Before panic broke loose, I came upon a strategy that has served me
well ever since—I asked the waiter to bring whatever he thought would best go with our meals.
I was fully prepared to pay whatever the cost to avoid seeming uncultured. He must have had a sensi-
tive soul beyond the accent since he came back with a bottle of Bollinger. It worked tolerably well with