Did you have, like, a gazillion fruit flies this summer? We sure did. Had to take out the compost three times a day. Finally stowed the fruit bowl in a cupboard. Little brats even came in for a landing in our wine glass a few times. Eww.
Speaking of wine: from the start, we were on the fence about Live-a-Little Really Ravishing Red from South Africa.
The label boasts that the wine within is an “Organic Fair Trade” product that is, furthermore, “eco-fair,” not to mention “fair for life” plus it contains “NO Added Sulfites. These morally ascendant claims are a buzz kill. They also are irrelevant. People drink wine to chill out and maybe get a little tiddly — not to end war, save the seals or free Tibet.
All that virtuous palaver reminds us of grammar school, where we used to draw a small cross or write “J.M.J.” on the top of our spelling tests hoping that our inner purity would persuade the nuns to look less harshly on our outer inability to spell. Didn’t work.
The one thing the label does not reveal is what you’re drinking. Nothing on the front, nothing on the back. All you get is this: “This organic South African wine is fun and easy drinking. Like its country and the people who make it, it has a whole lot of heart.” Actually, that’s not the first characterization that comes to mind when we contemplate the history of South Africa.
When you go to the website, you learn that the grape is Shiraz. But you have to wade through gobs of yak-yak, including these disquieting lines: “Now and then a wine is required that doesn’t need a ritual on opening, whose departure from a collection is not accompanied by nostalgic memories of its purchase. A wine that doesn’t need glasses you don’t have.” Are they telling us their wine isn’t very good?
But it cost less that $10 (Hannaford). We are very forgiving when a wine is cheap. So we forgave all the hoopla and made the buy.
Which brings us to Saturday. Dinner in the barn with a jolly crew: lemon chicken roasted with garlic, Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, garden zucchini and green beans, fresh bread. Our friend the Wine Wizard brought a bottle of 90-plus Pinot Noir. Life is good.
Our bottle of Live-a-Little had body but little bouquet. Each element — aroma, flavor, fruit, layers — was in its own drawer whereas the Pinot was entirely integrated and very pleasing.
The deal-breaker came shortly before dessert when we noticed, with some asperity, that we’d left the corks out and the late-season fruit flies were dive-bombing the bottles. No … bottle. They were going after the Pinot like crazy and eschewing our Live-a-Little. That had to mean something. Maybe they really know their wines. Fruit flies vote with their wings and these bad boys were saying Live-a-Little didn’t make it.
Or maybe they don’t care about world peace.