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I hate to say it, but most of what I know about wine I learned from Sideways. I saw the film several times a week when it played in theaters a few years ago. I felt like I was Miles, the mildly pathetic, frustrated writer and wine geek played by Paul Giamatti. Or at least Miles minus his affinity for wine.
I wasn't completely clueless about wine before the movie. I mean, I could fake my way around a bottle of bordeaux and knew to stay away from white zinfandel if I was trying to impress some gal at a nice restaurant or something. But most of my experience with wine had been in college, where I drank port right out of a bottle that came with a little plastic bull hanging around the neck. I'd take a swig, then look at a postcard of Hemingway taped on the wall behind my computer. In the photo, taken in 1926, he was standing by the train tracks, rigid, hands stuffed in the pockets of his linen coat, wearing dusty loafers with worn-down tips. His hair was slicked toward the right of his forehead, and he looked a little like Hitler. Yeah, I realize it's borderline sacrilegious to mention Hitler and Hemingway in the same sentence, but that's how I remember it. Next to Hemingway was a photo of Kerouac, taken when he was out on the fire escape of some New York apartment, cigarette in his mouth and a railroad brakeman's manual stuffed in his jacket pocket.
Both of these guys were my writing heroes — and big drinkers, to boot. So I'd sit there with a bottle next to me while my face got warm and flushed, and knock out a bunch of Beat-inspired prose and poetry for my college English classes. And occasionally, I'd think about how when Charlie Parker was at the top of his game, he was flying high on heroin — and how a ton of sax players got hooked on the junk, thinking that would make them play like Parker.
In the decade after college, when I had to buy a bottle of wine for a party, I'd usually get something from France that had a hip label and cost around $12.
So when I looked at the wine list at Trios Enoteca, I was searching for a good glass of pinot noir, because Miles worshipped the stuff in Sideways. And from what I recall, the film heavily boosted pinot sales. So I settled on a glass of 2004 Airlie pinot, which was quite good, but I couldn't tell you anything about the details of the aroma.
Miles had his wine obsession and I've got my jazz fixation, which is another reason I went down to Trios: The place has live jazz and blues Tuesdays through Saturdays, mainly duos and trios. On that icy night after Christmas, the place seemed particularly cozy and inviting. A guitarist and bassist were doing some relaxed renditions of "Route 66," "Sleepwalk" and Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary." One couple was stretched on a huge leather sofa by the stage, while a few others chatted on sofas lining the wall. When another couple strolled in, the gal commented on what a cool place it was. Cool, indeed, but warm as well, and Trios, which has been around for a decade now, is an ideal place to take a girl on a first date.
Club scout: The space at 1531 Champa Street that had been known as JC's Ground is now the Rock & Roll Grill. It's still all-ages and no-alcohol, with an emphasis on Christian acts, but it has new lighting and a new sound system, and will also feature secular music on its two stages Thursday through Sundays. And there's been an unholy amount of action down south lately, with the new Landmark project in Greenwood Village introducing new clubs and restaurants each week. Another Lime and a second Comedy Works are coming soon; in the meantime, Frank and Jim McLoughlin, owners of the Irish Snug and McLoughlin's Restaurant and Bar, have opened Slattery's Irish Pub at 5364 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard.