How many grapes does it take?


I visited a Sonoma  winery a few months back, for my friend Audrey’s birthday.   It was a dreamy Sunday  afternoon.  We wound our way around the countryside—stopping to pick apples at an orchard, petting goats  and eating cheese at a local creamery, and finally,  visiting a winery.

My friend Audrey doesn’t really drink.  She said she “just liked the idea of visiting a winery”  for her birthday.  She also went through great lengths to find a winery that was not too hoity toity or expensive for us. And so, there we were, four women,  standing at a table at the least hoity toity winery in Sonoma, while a man eerily resembling Mitt Romney poured tiny glasses of wine for us to try.

Audrey, who was standing to my right, took a teensy little  sip of each wine pour, but gave me her leftovers, which I gulped down with all of the gusto and elegance, of a frat bro at a beer pong table.  This also meant that, in the span of about six  minutes, I drank the tiny glass equivalent of about three full glasses of wine.

“Yummy!” I shouted, after swigging each one.  “Super grapey!” and “Ooh, that one is very nice as well. Good job!”

I love wine.  But, I’m  not a wine snob by any stretch. Usually, I wind up choosing a wine based on the bottle design, with a predilection  towards  animals, wizards, gypsies,  snowmen,  pretty ladies,  or colorful kaleidoscope swirls.  Red is red, white is white, and when they are coursing through my veins, I become aggressively friendly.

As we neared the end of our wine tasting, a question popped into my head, and just flew out my mouth.

“How many grapes does it take to make a full bottle of wine?” I asked Mitt Romney.

“Wow, uh….You know,  I’ve never been asked that before,” He said.

“I’m surprised! I would think you’d get this question all the time.”

“Nope, never.” He said.

I slowly  turned around, and fully  cased my surroundings.   Lots of white people with carefully cultivated tans. Old men who smelled like freshly minted money.  Burberry skirts, triple-lacquered mahogany toenails. Quiet, murmuring people. Sophisticated folk, who probably asked  questions like “What is the undertone of this bouquet?  Elderberry? Oh, marvelous.”   Or “This  chardonnay is simply stunning. I must have it for Ashton’s bris! What do you think, too bold? Maybe a grigio?”

“Hmm.” I said to Mitt. “I guess it’s a mystery.”

“I guess, about…a thousand grapes?” He answered, hoping this would satisfy me. It didn’t. But also, it didn’t matter because a new thought fell out of my mouth.

Hey, do you know what would be really cool?” I asked Mitt.   “If there was a winery where people could stomp their own grapes. Like, you stomp them, and come back in a year and then you can buy your own home-made wine! Don’t you think people would love that?”

My friends murmured their approval of my idea. They know me, and they know  that I have genius business ideas about every 3 minutes.   Mitt Romney, however, was not amused.  I’d apparently crossed his wackadoodle  line.  He then went on autopilot, and  refused to make eye contact with me, or acknowledge me  for the rest of the pouring.

“Wow, you really got on that guys nerves,” said Audrey, as we left the winery.

“I know! Now I really want to know how many grapes goes into a bottle of wine.”

“Let’s hit the next winery and ask!”

For a minute, I became enchanted by the idea  of hosting my own reality show—where I tour California’s wineries and ask the same dumb question, seeing how people react. Even though I might need to check myself into a Betty Ford clinic when the show is over, wouldn’t it be totally worth it?

(The answer is 687 grapes, by the way.)



About ArleneShirlee

Hello. I live in Oakland. I write, I rap, I play drums, and I do some neat party tricks.
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1 Response to How many grapes does it take?

  1. Harriet Skjerly says:

    687 big grapes or little grapes do you think? Don’t fur sur ask Mitt ’cause he don’t know….


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