Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, March 30, 2005  

Talking to the help

Darrell Corti is a handsome man, grey haired, looking to be in his late fifties, with a trim appearance, and a professional air. Friendly, eager to help, and a true enthusiast of good wine and food, I had the pleasure of talking to him today and asking a silly question.

Mr. Corti works at Corti Bros. in Sacramento, a gourmet Italian food store started by his father and uncle (I believe) and renowned for the quality of its meat, produce, and specialty items.

Mr. Corti is in charge of the wine section and has come to be well known in my city as the expert in wine and fine dining. He is often consulted by the media on food stories; and hosts wine tasting and has been a featured speaker at many events regarding wine.

A terrible thing happens whenever I talk to Darrell, though. For example, a few weeks ago, I asked him if there was a brandf of gin that was as good as the Malacca gin that they had been selling until it was gone and no longer made.

He went away and returned with a bottle of Plymouth Gin. He then proceeded to tell me the history of this gin which had originally been named Blackfriars.

The Pilgrim Fathers also spent their last night in England here in 1620 before making the short walk down to the harbour to set sail on the Mayflower on their epic voyage to start a new life in America, where they founded a new Plymouth. The Mayflower ship forms Plymouth Gin's trademark label today.

Well, when Darrell Corti hands you a bottle of anything, you thank him politely and put it in your basket regardless of the price tag. So I bought the gin and tried it, of course, but it wasn't quite as tasty as the Malacca.

Today, though as I asked Darrell (you can call him by his first name. He is a dignified man, but also unassuming and quite lovely) about white reislings he might have mentioning that I had tried some recently and found it quite satisfying, he plucked a bottle out of a bin with a price I don't normally pay (over $15 or more).

Naturally, I took it. It's like taking a bat from Mickey Mantle saying, "Here, you can hit with this one." You don't question the judgment.

But then I had to ask my silly question which I make a great habit of when I think people are open to foolishness like I did a little earlier in the produce section. (Yes, I'm going to tease and make another digression.)

I had noticed that the plastic bags (nice and thick, I like them and use them to clean up after my dog on walks) you pull and yank off the spools have an unusual feature at Corti's. You go to say the area of the lettuce and yank a bag and tear it from the hanger. You grab an end and rub to open it only to find you are trying to open the closed end and must reverse the action. You then walk down to the bell peppers and pull off another bag exactly similar and having learned your lesson, reverse the end and begin to rub it open. But it doesn't work. Why not? Because this spool of bags is reversed. The other one opened from the bottom, and this one opens from where you tear it off.

This makes no sense for a manufacture to reverse the process where one spool of plastic bags open at the bottom end, and another spool opens from the top end. How can that happen?

Of course, I pointed this out in a genial fashion to the man stocking the produce and he was somewhat amazed. He had never noticed the oddity of it before and couldn't explain it. I informed him that it took people like me with too much time on their hands to be thus observant, and to bother to point it out to anybody.

And so, as a man with lots of opportunity to think of funny things to ask, I told Darrell that I had been thinking of him the other day and wondered if it was possible for him to drink any bottle of wine anymore that cost less than $10.

His eyes got a little wide, and said, "Absolutely." He then proceeded to go through various aisles of boxes and pointing out which under $10 wines he liked and started handing them to me.

"This red is very good. I like it very much. Then there's this, a nice white wine. You'll like it very much." And so on until I had half a dozen bottles in my cart and he was fetching me a box so they wouldn't roll and rattle around.

What could I do? It was Darrell Corti offering me his expertise that is famous and respected throughout the country and maybe half the world, wherever wines are made and buyers like him come to taste them for a fine store.

A writer doesn't reject advice from samuel Johnson except at his peril. I don't reject a wine from Darrell Corti. Even if it makes my budget groan a bit.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:07 AM |