When a Goldstar schedule summary appeared in my inbox tauting a Learn About Wine event involving all three of my aforementioned post-sunset weaknesses, I immediately forwarded the information to my friend, Lauren. Her enthusiatic response resulted in my subsequent purchase of two tickets to "The Chocolate Chateau," described on the website as a "chocolate dream combining fine wine and gourmet chocolate."
Last night, dressed to the ninety-nines in our bold blue dresses, Lauren and I confidently strode through the glass doors of the Beverly Hills Hilton -- our stomachs primed to be wined and dined via "Australian Shiraz, French Bordeaux, California Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah paired with everything from creamy milk chocolate to brooding and intense dark chocolate of the finest quality." The event description says it all - this is the sophisticate adult's version of a candy store, and Lauren and I were giddy with anticipation as we slapped on our bright orange wristbands and proceeded into the wine cellar/chocolate chateau.
Upon entering the room, Lauren and I each received a single wine glass to sample wine from the six different themed tables with absurdly creative names like "Italy," "California," "the Wild Card," and "Bonus." Each table boasted a wine expert offerring guests information and pours from three to six different bottles of wine -- none of which looked like it came from the bargain bin at Trader Joe's. We also received five tickets that were to be used as currency for our five allotted pieces of chocolate. The chocolate protocol only furthered my impression that Lauren and I had entered a grown-up fun zone -- complete with smoked aged chedder, brie, strawberries, grapes, and two huge catering trays oozing macaroni and cheese.
As Lauren and I began making our rounds from table to table, I found myself enamored with the circus of the fifty or so (mostly female) guests around us. I couldn't help but smirk when a curveless diva went back for a second helping of the decadent macaroni and cheese, and laughed out loud when an older woman gushed to her husband, "This (chocolate) is even better than the first!" Her enthusiasm was contagious -- and just as delightful as the white chocolate covered confection she raved so audibly about.
As the night progressed, each swallow of wine and bite of chocolate whetted my appetite for more. I grew increasingly greedy -- like I really was a child trapped in a candy store with unlimited options (subject to the approval of my parents, of course). The overabundance of wine had worn my patience thin, and the rules of the event suddenly felt like constraints rather than practical lines of protocol. I didn't want to wait in line to receive my pours. I didn't want to listen to the "Bonus" table expert pontificate on the origin of Gewurztraminer. And I most certainly did not want Denise, the bull-sized "California" expert, to correct me with her rude declaration that "Prosecco is not fake Champagne -- it's sparkling Italian wine!"
As I handed my last ticket to the woman guarding the five trays of chocolates, I immediately began plotting how I could steal extra tickets or sneak one more of the champagne truffles. I momentarily contemplated pulling a George Costanza and sorting through the bins of used plates in search of abandoned chocolate soldiers. If my friend Lauren hadn't been by my side and I didn't harbor a mild neurosis concerning germs, I might have actually gone through with it.
Despite my intentions to "Learn About Wine" during the two-hour event, over the course of the night, I discovered more about human behavior than I did about the contents of my (puny) wine glass. I wasn't the only guest anxiously tapping my foot as I waited for a refill of the 2003 Cobblestone Cabernet Sauvignon, nor was I the only guest piling my plate with more than my share of the smoked chedder cheese slices. Apparently, we had all checked our restraint at the door.
When Lauren and I headed toward the door at the end of the night -- her, with wine glass conveniently tucked behind her program, I overheard a stylish fashionista asking her friends, "What do you say girls, should we go in for another round of mac and cheese?" I grinned at their overzealous affirmative responses --shouted out just like they were kids in a candy store.