Any excuse for Dante: Champagne cheat sheet

From the department of “there’s always a good excuse to talk about Dante’s Comedy”…

bear dalton champagne

Above: The legendary Bear Dalton of Houston, Texas was my Virgil…

The weather outside was frightful when I rolled up to the mothership Spec’s on Smith St. [in Houston] yesterday afternoon.

But it wasn’t half as scary as the demolition derby that was unfolding in the parking lot there, between the old school Caddys, the C-Class Benzes, and the obligatory and ubiquitous GMC SUV, whose soccer mom pilot insisted on backing it into a space otherwise suited for a compact.

The holiday wine shopping scene inside reminded me of Dante’s bufera (you know, the “storm” in the fifth Canto of the Inferno, “Where ‘mid the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw / Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell / Their sorrows,” as Keats once wrote). Lustfully happy wine shoppers literally flew through the aisles, navigating their passage between scantily clad women with painted faces offering plastic cups filled with all sorts of highly charged alcoholic beverages.

As I descended through the circles of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, “Cab,” and Merlot, many a salesperson asked me graciously if I needed any help in finding what I was looking for.

But my Virgil was to be another…

Click here to continue reading my post this week for the Houston Press.

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