whining and dining.

While my husband’s career centers around wine, I know next to nothing about this magic grape juice. For years I’ve attended tastings with him, visited vineyards and consumed more than a fair share of vino. But I guess that because he knows so much about wine, I decided not to let one iota of information sink into my own head. It’s one of few areas where the control freak in me lets him completely take the wheel.

Today, he invited me to help him out at a wine tasting. When I agreed to attend, I somehow glazed over the fact that I don’t know a Chardonnay from a Shar-Pei…or a Malbec from a malady…or a Syrah from a sarong…or…

It ended up being a great day, and a perfect occasion for me to completely and utterly fail at something.

I never suspected the retirees of Carefree would have so many pressing questions about the origins of different varietals, and the differences between how wines are aged. Any time Jim wandered more than a foot from me, I was forced to either make up answers or awkwardly change the subject, while receiving perplexed stares from gray-haired strangers.

At one point, I was asked where a wine was from, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me. Finally – a question I can answer. I looked at the label of the bottle and confidently declared, “Napa! It’s from Napa.”

And then Jim gently pointed out that while the distributor is indeed based in Napa, the wine was from Argentina. Said so right there on the label. Open mouth, insert foot.

But despite awkwardly floundering, I had a great time. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes that states that life begins outside your comfort zone.

I’m a firm believer in pushing yourself and taking on some uncomfortable moments in the spirit of learning, and while today was a mild example, it was still a good reminder of how learning happens. And how thinking on your feet and doing new things keeps you feeling alive, even if it feels silly and makes you want to cry a little.

I can think of so many moments throughout different stages of life where I resisted doing anything uncomfortable. I chose the passive route and shied away from anything that could put me at a risk or had an undefined outcome. And that’s just me – I think my first inclination is always to to take the safer route – but I’m also discovering that sometimes usually, the most uncomfortable, painful and challenging experiences are what we credit with having the greatest value.

So the moral of the story? That my husband was clever in making me think I was actually needed at this event, when in reality, it was just a fun way for us to spend time together. And while I crashed and burned at Wine 101, I found some great ways to contribute to the day. Mostly by telling bad jokes, which encouraged patrons to bolster the tip jar.