Illustration by Monica Simon
When a dear friend served a chilled and tasty sparkling wine with a summer lunch, I could never have anticipated it would lead to a house full of drunken fruit flies.
I commented on how delightful the bubbly was—perfectly balanced between sweetness and tart crispness, with vivacious mousse—so she ran to her kitchen closet to pull out one of the dozen miniature bottles she had stockpiled.
It wasn’t anything fancy, a Charmat-method wine from California, but it was just the thing to keep on hand for every day drinking and gifting. Where did she get it?
She travels to another state under cover of darkness to secure her lot, as the wine’s not sold in
Pennsylvania, where we live.
Well, I had to get some. I travel to Maine each year and thankfully was able to and a tiny grocery store there that ordered it for me.
The screw-top splits lay on their side for a few days, until I noticed one bottle was half full. Then another and another. But the twist-top seals on the others were so tight, I had to use a nutcracker to open one. I washed the exterior of every bottle, dried them and decided that for three dollars per split, I wasn’t going to complain.
The full bottles ended up in the closet where I store Christmas gifts, many already wrapped. Oh, everyone would hear the story of how I came to know and love this sparkling wine! I was excited to make it, and the story of how I tracked it down, part of holiday gatherings.
My plans were derailed when more Christmas gifts were delivered. As I entered the closet, there was a loud buzz and a circle of fruit flies in dizzying patterns above the gifts.
Worse still, most of the wrapped gifts were wet with the sweet, tasty liquid.
In exasperation, I sent a picture to the producer, who apologized and thankfully sent me replacements in time for the holidays.
I had to unwrap the wet gi s, clean every surface (making sure no baby fruit flies were conceived from that wild night) and rewrap. Christmas and New Year’s Eve came early for the tipsy Drosophila fruit flies, who surely left this world smiling.