I’m a proud member of the Pelican Yacht Club.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t sail. I tried it, and thought I liked it. I took a week of lessons, and at the end of that five-day class, I was so enamoured that my husband and I even bought a boat!
But then, slowly, the truth began to emerge. We tried for three summers to sail. My husband loved it, and was good at it.
I sucked, and I hated it because I’m a wuss and every time our craft, aptly named "Off Kilter," started to even remotely heel, I freaked out and uttered some words I’m not terribly proud of.
"(Lord’s name in vain) @#$%& (Lord’s name in vain again)!" I’d shriek, leaving claw marks everywhere as I attempting to hold on for dear life. And then the very loud denouement that punctuated what came to be my sailing slogan.
"WE’RE GONNA DIE!!!"
Imagine how much fun THAT was for my husband to deal with.
Needless to say, we sold the boat.
But my hubby was still interested in sailing, so we maintained a social membership with the club, which means we’re occasionally at Pelican Lake and in Ninette on a Saturday, him to participate in events on the water, and me to read and soak in my friend Brianna’s hot tub (she’s the owner/operator of the Hot ’n’ Frosty restaurant, and she sometimes brings me delicious treats while I’m tubbing — her chocolate milkshakes are the best!) until it’s time for the post-sailing party to begin.
So that’s the preamble.
But the primary focus of this column is another Ninette establishment which is just across the street from the Hot ’n’ Frosty (which we affectionately call the Ho ’n’ Fro).
I’m referring, of course, to The Grocery Box.
I popped in there at the beginning of the summer because on that particular lake day, I’d only brought one bottle of wine with me, and I like to share. (Well, truthfully, I DON’T like to share, but all my wonderful friends at the club are so generous, I feel I have to. Share, that is. And really, because it’s them, I WANT to. Honest.)
Anyway, as I said, I went to The Grocery Box before hitting the hot tub just to see what it had on hand, because I knew, especially if I shared the wine I’d brought with me, I’d need to find something else for us to sip before the night’s festivities were over. And if this isn’t already clear, in addition to selling gasoline and food, The Grocery Box is also the town’s liquor outlet.
On my recent visit, I examined the shelves, which are always amazingly well-stocked with wine, to see what I could find. There was the usual array of reasonably priced products, most of which, sadly, are not ones I care to drink, except in a pinch. And I don’t like pinches.
After glancing over the collection of items, I began to get a bit concerned. I didn’t see anything that appealed to me. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar label.
Wow! The Marques de Casa Concha 2008 Syrah from Chile’s Concha Y Toro ($19.99). Full-bodied black fruit with a hint of anise and a pinch of spice thrown in for good measure. I LOVE that wine!
I was so happy. Steak was on the menu for supper, and here was a wine I could SO do with steak. Then I noticed the Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz from Australia, which I also enjoy ($15.99).
I sighed contentedly. And then, after a bit more searching — and I don’t know how I missed them in the first place because they were right underneath the Marques de Casa Concha — I spied some more Aussie wines, the familiar Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay ($16.49), and then the Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.99).
I was set! Whatever the day had in store, there was wine available to meet it head on.
Fast-forward several weeks later, when I went to visit my cousin Joanne and her family on the Canadian side of Lake Metigoshe. She had one bottle of Chardonnay on hand — bless her, she knows what I like! — and I had stupidly only brought red to go with our steak supper. And since this was close to an all-day affair, and that Chard was going down really well — far too easily, in fact — I suggested sending my husband, Ken, to fetch more at the Turtle Mountain Resort, which also sells gas, food, and is Metigoshe’s beer vendor and liquor outlet.
But my cousin, the consummate host, would have none of that. She hustled off and came back with an amazing selection of wines — a lovely Chardonnay I really enjoyed, a Torrontes I’d had before and had quite liked, and a couple of Chiantis that went really well with dinner.
And while some folks disparage rural liquor stores, the purpose of this column, really, is just to express my appreciation to the good people at The Grocery Box and Turtle Mountain Resort for ensuring they had a few upper-end bottles for ultra-picky winos like me. I more than understand that the vast majority of their sales come from less expensive wines, and I realize they can’t have a wide selection of pricey products. But I was delighted — and impressed — to find just a few.
I’m also happy to give local stores my business when I’m there. And by ensuring they have wines that’ll please the palates of consumers like me, The Grocery Box and Turtle Mountain Resort have now got a dedicated customer who’s happy to sing their praises and applaud their wine choices.
So thanks, folks! I hope to be seeing you again soon.