White Zin, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir

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Southhampton, Long Island was the destination yesterday. A few colleagues and I went out to the Hamptons to pour wine at a glitzy fundraiser: megawatt celebrities and trophy wives, blue blazers and loafers, khaki pants and flowery prints, perfectly sculpted bodies and botoxed lips, painted smiles and Hamptons drips, but no White Zin, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir.

Jane Fonda was in attendance, as was Sarah Jones, who gave a wonderful performance (her impressions/accents are amazing!) but didn’t get many laughs when she quipped that she was from Queens, “the other tip of Long Island.” My personal celeb moment was a siting of The New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham who furtively flitted through the crowd (see pic below).

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Above: a beautiful sunflower field surrounded the party tent.

An age-old proverb: You can lead a horse to vino but you can’t make her drink.

Although there were a few guests who expressed some interest in the wines, we were bombarded by a litany — a Jeremiad, really — of “Chardonnay? Pinot Grigio? Merlot? Pinot Noir?” and the occasional “White Zin?” In all fairness to this palateless crowd, I heard no one ask for a “Cab.” I guess — to borrow a Hamptonsesque phrase — “Pinot Noir is the new Cab.”

Forgive them for they know not what they do. Of course, my colleagues and I were not pouring any of the above hegemonic, consumerist choices. We were pouring wines which must have seemed terribly esoteric and unpronounceable to the 350+ partygoers: Erbaluce, Malvasia, Montepulciano, and Pelaverga (just try explaining this last one to a white-haired martini-quaffing gent!). These days, people seem programmed to expedite the wine line process by asking for something familiar, something sanctioned and endorsed by their peers, something safe and reliable in situations where appearances are everything and substance refers not to character but to intoxication.

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Above: New York Times social-pages photographer Bill Cunningham flitted furtively through the crowd… He’s cool.

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Above: We ate lunch at this fish shack (Captain Who’s?), picturesque but the food was just okay.

In other news, I am so bummed that The New York Times has changed paper size. Even the Old Gray Lady herself wrote that this money-saving move would lead to “fewer words” in the paper. Conan O’Brien said it best — quoted in the Times — when he observed:

The New York Times reduced the size of their newspaper; they cut the paper’s width by an inch and a half. The move was announced with the headline, ‘‘Big Changes at The New York Tim.’’

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