I have this friend who travels in local music circles and is the drama department director at an Imperial Beach high school. She's never really liked me very much, openly admitting more than once that she goes out with me for the show comps and nothing else. Not only that: I went to her spring play one recent weekend, and her 6-year-old daughter, who had some small roles in the piece, stuffed 33 deluxe banana-cream pies in my face after I sweetly asked her to sign my program—while Mom looked on in abject glee. Such insolence! That was one of my better pens, dammit!
So I stops at the nearby Wally's IGA Marketplace, I does, on the off-chance I might find a liquid refreshment that drowns sorrows as a side effect. Instantly, the afternoon's unpleasantness became a part of the distant past. Ports, Shirazes, Rieslings, Merlots: Wally's devotes a wall's worth of space to its 6-foot-high wine racks, with France, Italy, Spain and Australia handsomely represented alongside the U.S. And check this out: The store carries a line called Kono Barú, from Sonoma's Don Sebastiani & Sons—the labels are mounted upside down to indicate that the fare originates in the southern hemisphere. Corny, maybe, but try the 2006 Unwooded Chardonnay from Chile, anyway.
Not a trace of oaky taste, like you find in other Chards. The passion fruit and guava just don't quit here, which is why this wine makes a delicious stand-alone over a little ice. And for $8.99, it's all the more appealing.
The selection at this Wally's includes scores of names and price ranges, which I found unusual for a grocery chain. You can find 'em at 836 Palm Ave. in I.B., but you need to be there between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day to actually access them. The number is 619-424-8129—next time I call it, I'll ask for the bulk rates on cake batter and chocolate maple syrup. She'll never know what hit her.