We got there around 11:00 this morning, stepping out of our ailing Rav- 4 and into the thick, wooly blanket of heat that’s hovered over Chicago for the past 5 or 6 days. A guy was throwing bags of ice from a delivery truck just off to the right of the store’s entrance. He’d lunge into the walls of bagged ice densely packed into the truck, lift, pivot and heave, the bags making a delightful arc (at least I thought so) before meeting their fate with an enchantingly watery thud on the steamy blacktop.
What I like most about Sam’s is to just wander the wine aisles admiring all the wine. Because they’ve so rarely done me wrong, I always check in on Chilean wines first. We’ve gambled on and enjoyed dozens of good Chilean wines for under $10 over the last 5-years or so, in fact, they played a vital role in our wedding considerations back in the day. Nothing says, “Why not? Let’s get married!” like a good Chilean merlot and we're proof of that. I bought a couple this morning, but I couldn’t tell you what they were called or what vineyards they might have come from. Cathy and I have long lamented our laxity when it comes to writing down the name of a good wine and have been too quick to recycle the bottle. Because some of those wines were damn good! Once, I decided to combat our neglect by taking some notes, jotting down some quick impressions every now and again about what we we may have liked about a particular wine (“Made talking about combined sewer overflows while simultaneously eating dinner surprisingly appetizing and not gross at all!”) but I never made it past the first few.
We talked to a couple Sam’s employees. There seemed to be hundreds of them there, two to three per aisle and so, so very willing to be of service. We had a guy recommend some Chilean wine for us. The only part of that conversation that I remember went like this:
“…some people like medium-bodied…”
“Yeah, that sounds great!”
Then we wondered into the Australian aisle, hoping to find an interesting Shiraz, which is another way of saying we wanted something cheap but tasty. There we met another employee. They’re almost always male, these clerks, and most of them seem to know their shit. I imagine the staff greeting each other at the beginning of each shift with a hearty, “In vino veratas!” and a high five. I remember more of this conversation. There was this:
“Do your drink Australian wines?”
And later there was this:
“Yeah, pinot noir’s are very big right now, very popular.”
“It’s because of that damn movie, isn’t it?”
He told me to try this one, whatever it was, and I was easily convinced though was $1.99 over our usual $10 limit. Then he told me how to really enjoy it. Chill it for about 45 minutes prior to serving. He reassured me that while this was an odd request given that it was a red and all, it was a countenanced practice amongst those in the know. You don’t serve it chilled though. Let it sit for about 15 minutes after the 45 in the fridge. Then serve it. Very refreshing on hot days like the ones we’ve been having.