Book Excerpt

The Grail

A year ambling and shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world

February 16, 2007

From the chapter “Pupinot”

July. Whereas we got a puppy a while ago and the puppy is one wild adventure I spend a lot of time with the puppy, and one roaring hot afternoon I come home from work and find no one home but the pup, my subtle research assistant being off somewhere doing something and the children off somewhere committing mischief and misdemeanor, and whereas it’s been a really long day and it’s stunning hot, the pup and I sprawl and loll in the grass with a bowl of water for her and a glass of clean crisp pinot blanc from Lange for me, the new wine just released a month ago, a lovely clear penetrating wine that carries cool peace right down my throat into my old moaning bones.

This is damn fine wine, I say to the pup, who yawns.

Don’t yawn at me, dog, I say. This is excellent wine, and I’ll tell you why, and you will be edified and educated, which is what you need, seems to me, because all of life is not bounding around chasing food and biting people and dreaming about sex. Some of life is contemplating and conversing and cogitating and admiring creativity in the human animal, which is a fascinating animal, not so much because of its capacity for language or philosophy or abstract thought, as some say, but because of its endless possibility for grace and generosity and epiphany. Seems to me that animals of my species are more capable of creativity than animals of your species, which is maybe why I am sitting here with wine and you are sitting there with water.

The pup knows the word water and her ears and eyebrows do that startling-awake thing they do when she hears words like food and walk and treat and ball and bad girl! and no! and get down from there! and my god don’t eat that! and why don’t you do me a huge favor and pee outside like the boys do? which I have said to her many times even though my sons tell me it’s too much of a rhetorical question for the pup to handle easily.

I get her another bowl of water and get myself a second sip of the wine and make a mental note to tell Jesse that the new pinot blanc is an excellent wine to have while talking about moral evolution with your dog.

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