The Wine Whisperer: Lorn Razzano

I know I promised to talk more about wine labels this week but I thought I'd tell you a small wine story instead. I think what precipitated this story is the amount of feedback I recieved on the article i did on wine snobs a few weeks back. I too can be accused of being, if not a wine snob, a little crazy about wine. The story goes something like this:

It had to be in 1970 or 1971 in Long Beach California. I was a senior in college at the time and was very much into wine as my father had been for many years. It was brought to my attention from one of my roommates that an all comers benefit was going to be held in Long Beach where the grand prize was dinner for six at a very fine restaurant which included "professional wine service and grand wines" as part of the winner's take.

My buddies at the time new I was a budding wine geek and bored them continuously about Italy, France and just about every little nuance about wine I could gather at the time. The kicker was that this benefit was a golf competition, winner take all.

Anyone who knows me understands that I am possibly the worst golfer in North America. There are photos of me, not unlike those hanging in the post offices across the land, stuck on pro shops with my mug on them with the saying "This guy not allowed on course or with club!"

The competition was a longest drive competition. One paid ten bucks to enter and had three shots to go the longest. The fairway (or whatever it is called) started at a makeshift tee and ended precipitously over the edge of a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean.

There were spotters with clipboards as well as measured yard markings that ended well over 400 yards.

I was egged on by all of the poor saps I had tortured with wine jargon, wine articles and bottles of (marginal) wine I had brought back to my apartment and made them drink while expounding on every virtue of the grape. It was now time to put up or shut up. If I "loved" wine so much why would I not enter and win the prize for the troops? So, I sucked it up, paid the dough and entered.

Being a lefty and owning no clubs, I had to borrow a driver or wood or something to get my three shots at winning.

Being very kind and willing to take anyone's money they handed me a club with what seemed to be a wooden head the size of a small, used pickup truck!

The stage was set for complete humiliation. The groovy wine guy was going down in front of three hundred folks — including two very cute girls from my English class. On either side of the tee were people sitting under sun umbrellas, score keepers and real golfers who were waiting their turn or had driven earlier. I set the ball on the tee.

With a hushed crowd (I might be stretching the truth a bit, I don't think anyone gave me much of a look, really) looking on I swung mightily and connected with the largest hunk of earth I've ever seen lifted in the air by a club. The ball rolled a foot or so while the gallery ducked away from turf, soil and pebbles. My friends howled gales while the rest of the folks lifted themselves from the ground and looked around. After composing myself for a few seconds I swung again and hit the top of the ball which sent the little sucker another foot or so.

On the last swing I swung with a little less energy and the sound of "plunk" with the club hitting the ball was really satisfying. The ball lifted with a wonderful arch then, without a doubt, a miracle happened.

The vaunted Santa Ana wind kicked in. It was if the Golf gods, bored by another day of Hole-in-ones, looked down on this pathetic creature and blew a kiss. The ball rocketed as if it had fire on its tail and shot horizontally seemingly forever shooting past the 400 yard mark and into the ocean.

The "professional wine service and grand wines" were marvelous! See you next week.