Yixin and Hai graciously invited our friend Dave and me over for Dinner and Wii after we saw Hai's photo exhibition.
While Hai and Yixin were cooking, Dave and I offered to go get some wine.
"So, hai, what is the wine that you got last time? It is so good and exactly what I liked." I asked.
I tried to remember the name and it did not register.
Hai tried to remember as well, we Chinese are generally not good with English names, not to say "Frenchy" ones for Wine.
"It is probably French, yellow label, with a goat on it, priced at $9.85, and it is on the left side once you walk into the store. "
That is Claritin clear. We walked toward the liquor store on 79th and Broadway. It is said to be cheaper there than the one on 72 St, and closer too.
I could never figure out who owned that liquor store, at any given point, I have seen Indian, African, South Korean, Chinese people working in that store, all with a look of large dosage of pride.
Kinda of miss my old wine store under my old building on 55 street, a Chinese guy married into a Korean wife (very pretty) and her father's wine business, I am sure.
So we walked in the store with a secret mission. We turned left as soon as we got in, avoiding eye contact with anyone working there, since I could not see myself ask for a wine, not when I can find it myself, especially we are so smart.
I think people in general, especially people who think they have an exquisite taste, want to behave like they know exactly what they are getting in a wine store, with authority. If they ever look contemplative, it is because they are considering venturing out of their usual choice and vary by a very subtle degree to show off their complexity.
I suffer from the same sentiment or bourgeois vanity but also know that I could never remember those names. I have to rely on my visual memory. But it is when we are pretentious that we suffer the most.
We got into work with a little hierarchy in mind: French, price, label and presence of a goat.
When we find nothing promising in the section of French red wines, we found our selves begin to mix up the hierarchy a little--it is very easy for people to lose their convictions.
Try this: Goat, Price, Label and French.
Or, how about lose the French, just Goat, Price, and yellow label. None is found.
We were soon a bit desperate.
We have already been all over the store, looking for Goat and $9.85 among all the wines from all the countries that can possibly produce them.
Ok, just a goat, any goat.
"Here is a crazy red goat, but he looks too crazy". We shook our heads. Dave put that Australian bottle down. It can't be.
So Dave and I regrouped briefly for next step.
"I saw goats, and a monkey. I saw $9.85. I saw lot of French wines. I saw lot of yellow labels. But one with that combination, no." Dave whispered.
It is not because Dave and I are confused Chinese. I am. Dave is second generation Korean, smart IT guru with culture, and an American, so is his girlfriend Robin who is currently in London, studying Journalism.
So there is no other choice but for me to take the extreme measure. When I was taking a deep breath to muster enough courage, a guy who worked there, I could not tell his origin at all, had enough of our agony and Senfield situation.
He came up and said, "can I help you guys".
I cleared my throat, "yes, I love this bottle of wine my friend got from here. I don't remember the name, but I think it is French, with a yellow label, a goat on it and priced under $10."
"Yes, it is very popular." he is very excited, "But it is not French, it is South African! The name does looks very French though. Many people thought it French. But right now I am out of it."
"However, there are two other South African wine that I can suggest to you, they are very similar taste."
That is how I found my favorite South African wine: Indaba Pinotage 2005.
For one thing, Indaba is such a easy name to remember, like the African names I know, short, rhythmic.
And I know one of these days, I will go back to the store and save all the misery of self searching and ask, so is the South African bottle with a yellow label and a goat on it priced at $9.85 back in stock?
Sometimes, go straight to the point is more important than style, but only sometimes. And to think about it, I kinda of like that.