The Whine Tasting: One Drunk Puppy
You know it’s a fucked up situation when the evening’s success depends on the goodwill of a scalper.
I’ll get to this in a moment. But first, the preamble.
“One Drunk Puppy” seems like a strange name for a wine tasting event. The proceeds raised from selling thousands of tickets for a room that comfortably holds about 150 goes to support a charity for homeless dogs here in Las Vegas. Hence the odd name. We love wine and who among us doesnt like dogs — so this was a “must-attend” event.
Marieta and I go to as many wine tastings as we can. Most are pretty good since Las Vegas attracts a steady flow of wine marketeers, mostly from California. As a general rule, the more expensive the tickets cost, the better wines that are served. Since I’m the king of $9-a-bottle specials, attending the more refined tastings gives me a chance to sample wines that (in many cases) I wouldn’t be able to afford on a daily basis.
So, One Drunk Puppy is held at the Silverton Casino, across the highway from South Point. Tickets cost $45 at the door. It’s like 160 degrees outside, so we’re eager to step into the atrium where it’s nice and cool inside and wine is pouring aplenty.
Coming off the elevator, here’s the sign we run into in the lobby.
Are you fucking kidding me???
We drove 30-minutes from across town and got all dressed up to come over here. We even did valet parking. There’s no way these jokers are going to shut us out of a wine event. No. No. No. Not us.
Unfazed by signs intended for the general public, I try shooting every possible angle, and then some. I plead with VIP services. I go to the gate and explain how important we are. I try begging for any extra tickets off those who are standing in line.
While ticket hunting, I hear the sound of a voice off in the distance.
Huh? Could it possibly be? Would a wine tasting have scalpers working the door? What is this — the AFC Championship Game?
I dart over to the voice and some creepy-looking middle-aged man in cut-offs, a western shirt, and flip-flops is standing there looking like he has $3 to his name. He certainly looks like a scalper. But I don’t judge.
“Hey man, you got any extra tickets?”
“Maybe,” he answers. “I’m working on it. How many do you need?”
The scalper explains that he’s got one. Some scalper this guy is. Talk about someone who doesn’t understand the ticket brokering game.
“I’ll try to find you another one,” he says. “But you better go ahead and grab this one, because I’ll sell it to the first buyer.”
Okay, so the scalper made a quick $15 profit, which I suppose is acceptable given that I’m like — completely fucking stuck like a pig. But that’s just one ticket. I need one more. One ticket won’t do us much good if there are two people together. It’s like buying one shoe.
The scalper runs off and I expect it’s about 50-50 as to whether I’ll ever see him again. Hell, the ticket I purchased might even be a counterfeit. To my amazement, the man returns about ten minutes later with a big smile.
“You’re lucky. I found you another ticket,” he announces.
Great! Now, we’re both going to get into the event, it seems.
I pull out three twenties and push the money towards the man.
“Wait. This one’s going to cost $70,” the scalper says. “I had to pay extra for it.”
Of course, this ballbuster knows I’m in a big-time jam. He sees my wife and I standing here and he has us wiggling over a barrel. He also knows that since I’m sitting here with one (useless) ticket, I need to have the other one to get inside. Like the pair of shoes.
With no other choice than to fork over an extra $25 premium, I agree. The deal is done and the scalper scurries off $40 richer for what amounts to 15 minutes of hustling. Some racket this guy does. At the same time, thankfully he was present, or we would not have gotten tickets.
Then again, perhaps that would have been the best thing of all.
I don’t like crowds. I especially don’t like crowds when food and drinks are involved. I want my own delicacies and my own space — and plenty of both. I don’t want to push through a logjam of strangers to get what amounts to an ounce of cheap wine, or carrot sticks at the food station. Sampling chardonnay shouldn’t entail running an obstacle course.
So, we’re packed into what amounts to a tent tighter than the threads on a Turkish rug. After bumping into a stranger for like the 67th time, I finally stop saying “excuse me.” It’s like a fucking pin-ball machine.
The wines are a complete mess. Nothing at all from the Rhone Valley. No Chateaunuff Du Pape. No Gevrey Chambertin.
But they do serve Sutter Home White Zinfandel.
Sutter fucking Home!
All that’s missing is Yellow Tail.
Despite the low-octane selection, the wine tasting becomes salvagable for two reasons. First, there’s a wonderful selection of Argentine Malbecs. I’ve been riding high on the Malbec train for about five years now, ever since a trip to Argentina when I was exposed to these wines en masse for the first time (many costing about $5 a bottle there). The tasting also has two stoked beer stations — one of all the Big Dogs (Las Vegas) microbrews and another from the Anchor Steam Brewery (San Francisco), with about six different bottles. Between the Malbecs and the beer, at least the night wasn’t a total loss.
The cause is a good one also. One Drunk Puppy has booths where you can support organizations devoted to certain breeds. I recall seeing volunteers staffing rescues for German Shepards, Beagles, and Golden Retrievers. We even run into several people we know, including Stacy (Beagle Rescue) and Woody Moore, the poker pro.
The event was horribly handled by the Silverton Casino. They get a capital “F.” For FAIL. Packed in a room that should have been at least three-times the size for the number of attendees, the hosts should have provided for more space. It’s not like the turnout was a surprise. The motherfucker sold out! Give people more space, jackasses!
They also need to work on the food, which was pretty much off the Safeway party platter. Sorry, my Saturday night dinner shouldn’t consist of two dozen carrot and celery sticks. They also tease your ass off by displaying all kinds of great-looking breads on the table with various sauces, which led me to assume there was a carving station serving meat to the guests. A line a mile long beckoned us to grab some roast beef sandwiches (so we thought — big suprise!). Imagine finally getting to the table after standing in a dry line 20 minutes and seeing nothing more than more carrot and celery sticks.
I feel like a fucking rabbit.