Cabernet Sauvignon, Clos de l’Ame, Napa Valley, 1998, $501, 13%

For our robust Cabernet Sauvignon, we harvest grapes from the original Napa vineyard planted by founder and viticulture legend Jean-Paul de la Clos de l’Ame. Aged in French oak for nine months, then estate bottled, Clos de l’Ame Cabernet Sauvignon is ultrarich and complex, with a dense core of meaty blackberry, dark cherry, and currant. Notes of pipe tobacco and dark chocolate, loamy earth and crushed rock. A silky finish that folds in smoky anise, graphite, and grippy tannins. Pair with veal Marsala at client appreciation luncheons or polo field victory parties, as you linger near the libations table, imagining your name on the firm’s letterhead, business cards, and affidavits: McClelland, Stewart, Leland, & Brandt. Clos de l’Ame Cabernet Sauvignon: imbibe relentlessly.


Merlot, Domaine Dionysos, Sonoma Valley, 2003, $251, 13.6%

Our supple, expressive Merlot boasts an inky colour and plush texture, layering blueberry and plum chewiness with hints of espresso, green olives, and warm pine needles. A tight finish of ashes and river stones. Perfect with wild boar and grilled asparagus, fine leather boots and a well-deserved promotion to partner – the first woman in the firm’s history. So kick up your feet, light a Montecristo #2, and pour yourself another glass. You’ve earned it!


Pinot Noir, Case Closed Cellars, Willamette Valley, 2004, $198, 14%

Our celebrated Pinot Noir is lithe and silky, structured around blueberry, blackberry and dark cherry pâté de fruits. Hints of orange peel, Darjeeling tea, and singed raisins. Juicy and succulent body. Elegant, floral finish with velvety tannins. Pairs well with cassoulet and a new BMW 5 series, silk sheets and male musk – though not your husband’s. Quaff deeply, and celebrate your silver tongue.


Shiraz, Big Bikkie Vineyards, South Australia, 2005, $185, 13.1%

We produce our Shiraz in the Mediterranean climate of South Australia, where the grapes grow plump from warm sunshine and mineral-rich soil. A crisp entry blossoms into a succulent medley of ripe boysenberry and juicy fig flavors. Enjoy accents of vanilla, blooming orchids, and rum-laced fruitcake. Long, luxurious finish. Lovely with wild bovine or fruits de mer, but drinks easily in a polished glass, as you perch on the edge of your desk in your corner office with a view of the Golden Gate, lording it over your vassals. Speak softly, and carry a Big Bikkie!


Syrah, Willow Wallow Wines, Walla Walla Valley, 2006, $170, 13.1%

We grow the grapes for our Willow Wallow Syrah in the lush Walla Walla Valley, where the soil is fertile, the rainfall incessant, the warm summer sunshine almost non-existent. Aged for fifteen months in American oak, then estate bottled. Delight in mouth-coating tannins that underlie a fruity mélange of huckleberry and dark plum flavours, accented with chocolate mousse, dried lavender, and Moroccan olives. The long, vivid finish carries hints of black tea, cinnamon, and wilting violets. Plus, you share a name, almost, if you scrunch up your cheeks and hold your mouth just right: Syrah, Sarah. You hear it everywhere these days, preceding you into conference rooms and trailing behind you along marble corridors, whispered behind furtive hands and swallowed with chuckles. Have your underlings lost all respect for you? Are Shiraz and Syrah the same grape? Only time will tell. Until then, have another glass. Que Syrah, Sarah!


Malbec, Los Vencedores, Mendoza, 2007, $163, 14.5%

At the end of the journey, you remember only one battle. Not the one you fought against yourself, the original enemy, and won, but the one you fought with your conniving junior associates, who conspired and colluded and made you the scapegoat, destroying what until now had been a brilliant career. Our high-altitude vineyards and cool climate give our Malbec the profound violet-blue colour of new bruises. A sweet entry leads to intense flavours of raspberries and prunes, laced with notes of black pepper and burning underbrush. A jammy texture and soft tannins. Los Vencedores: to the victors, go the spoils!


Champagne (Extra Brut), Domaine Parrain, Champagne, 2008, $155, 12.5%

Our Extra Brut Champagne is crafted with the finest Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. The intense effervescence yields to a focused, dry core of ripe watermelon, whole milk, and green walnuts. Notes of lemon zest and sea salt, toasted cashews and dried porcini mushrooms. Ideal for separations and divorces, demotions and layoffs and downsizings. Also pairs well with crab cakes.


Pinot Grigio, Senza Speranza Estates, Alto Basso, Italy, 2012, $57, 13.2%

Senza Speranza Pinot Grigio layers juicy apricot over cantaloupe, honey, and smoky mineral accents. Rich and creamy. Scintillating acidity and a touch of tarragon and banana peel on the finish. Excellent with Chilean sea bass, truffled roasted mushrooms, and a paltry severance package.


Riesling, Verbloeming Vineyards, South Africa, 2013, $32, 12.7%

After a long day lost in the bush, enjoy Verbloeming Vineyards Riesling, a fine lubricant for stories of safari near-misses. Plump peach and white rose flavors give way to notes of candied pink grapefruit zest, toasty oak, and white pepper. Evenly balanced with a silky finish of scorched sugar cane. Excellent with lady fingers, tiramisu, and a veritable Mount Kilimanjaro of unpaid credit card bills and foreclosure notices. Verbloeming Vineyards Riesling – because you can’t eat all your emotions.


Gewürtstraminer, Domaine Chateau Jämmerlich, Alsace-Lorraine, 2014, $21, 11.8%

Our distinguished Gewürtstraminer opens with a medley of ripe, luscious fruit: lychee and pineapple, orange and apricot. Layered beneath are traces of unwashed cantaloupe, bitter grapefruit, and pulverized ginger. The sharp finish swells with notes of burning smudge sticks and crumbly granite. Enjoy a glass (bottle, case) over take-out tikka masala as you thumb your nose at the process server clutching divorce papers in his fist and pounding on the Motel 6 door. “I know you’re in there, Ms. Brandt!” he hollers. If he can’t see you, he can’t serve you. You may be unemployed and scandal-tainted, but you still know the law.


Rosé, All Day Vineyards, Yakima Valley, 2015, $8 (5-liter jug), 12%

Our All Day Rosé offers a stony spine and dried peach and nectarine body supported by light rosemary and turmeric accents. The mineral-edged finish carries hints of dead azaleas and mashed jicama. Chewy, viscous texture. The ample energy is tightly harnessed, like the incessant vibrations of a cell phone. That would be your creditors calling. Pair with cold cuts and saltines in the TV’s blue flicker; or on wet, empty nights, as you wrestle with how it all went so wrong, guzzle straight from the jug.


Chardonnay, Domaine Le Target, Minneapolis, 2016, $5 (3-liter box), 15%

Young and unruly, our Domaine Le Target Chardonnay presents a robust core of honeydew melon rind and creamy oak, along with lime zest and Earl Grey tea. Jammy texture yields to an electric finish that carries notes of candied sage, battery acid, and old pennies. Perfect for lonely afternoons, weeping over the want ads.


Midnight Express, Gallo Pinto Cellars, Sedona, 2016, $2.50 (375 ml), 17.5%

Like the front half of a bad mullet, Midnight Express is all business. When this train thunders into the station, expect a rich nose of diesel exhaust and nail polish remover that gives way to a core of sour Gatorade, Jello, and Robitussin. Chemical body and thin, gasoline-like texture. Edgy finish of Clorox, polyurethane, and roof tar lingers until your tongue goes numb or you pass out cold. Enjoy on moonlit, park-bench nights, or pass the bottle with transient friends down on the poorly-policed boardwalk. All aboard the Midnight Express – your one-way ticket to oblivion!


Grape Ape, Garden State Estates, Turnpike Valley, 2016, $1.83 (750 ml), 19.5%

The syrupy sweet nose of this robust fortified wine recalls badly mixed grape Kool-Aid and melting Otter Pops. The acid entry mellows to an unmistakable core of cheap vodka, NyQuil, and fresh jet fuel. Notes of Deep Woods Off and used motor oil. Strong, simian structure and almost effervescent texture. Metallic finish with hints of brass doorknobs and rusty nails. From the first tongue-scorching sip to the last bottle-clanking chug, Grape Ape will clutch you in his unconditional embrace. Perfect before, during, and/or after a hearty soup kitchen extravaganza. Available everywhere fine winos are served.

About J. T. Townley

J. T. Townley has published in Harvard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Threepenny Review, and other magazines and journals. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MPhil in English from Oxford University, and he teaches at the University of Virginia. To learn more, visit



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