***An anonymous wine club member shares her plan to put bad wine to good use… and clear her social calendar of undesirable engagements!***

I began thinking about the summer months, and how busy my weekends are already shaping up to be. It’s only June, and already I am locked-in (or tentatively locked-in) to various barbecues, dinner parties and gatherings. Problem is…many of these events are hosted by people I don’t even feel a bond with. Sure, we’re friends… but more the type of friends that need to plan get-togethers two months in advance, not the ones I call up on Saturday night to hang out because I want to. Admit it, you know these people too… long standing friends you have nothing in common with but can’t seem to part with; couples who seem unable to dine alone for a single Saturday night; party planners who stalk you over E-vite until you commit; and of course, the boring people who need fun people at their dinner table to make them seem cool. What do I do about this social calendar craziness? Living in Canada, with only 3 months of beach days and cottage getaways, my weekends are at a premium. I have to do something!

I ask: Why am I on the top of their invitee list year after year?

Truthfully, don’t know why I keep getting invited over. I keep contact at a minimum throughout the year, and I certainly don’t encourage talk about getting together. I don’t invite them over to my place, ever. I make excuses to get out of attending, and put off confirmation until the last possible moment (somehow, the events always seem to get rescheduled for a date when it is “convenient” for me). I am pretty much a bad friend, and really, have no idea why these people want to keep up the friendship.

I find: There is only one possible reason: The wine!
While discussing my dilemma with a friend over dinner Thursday night (since Thursday is my new Saturday due to an over-booked calendar), she informed me of a French proverb that says, “The best use of bad wine is to drive away poor relations”. (I wish I could remember random proverbs and pull them up at opportune times – but that’s a whole other issue of mine). Anyways, we analyzed this idea and realized that if bad wine pushes people away, then good wine must reinforce relationships. I have become the wine crutch of my social circle!

There have been many occasions that I brought my nicest bottles of wine to dinner out of courtesy, or thoughtlessly obliged when the host asked me to pay a visit to the LCBO to select the wine for the evening. I have never once arrived empty handed – and more to the point, never without an offering that I felt good about.

I could hardly believe it... I have become the resident wine expert; the provider; the person who always asks what is being served for dinner to bring a proper wine match… I am being used for my wine! As a result of my appreciation for fine wine, I have secured my invitation to crappy parties, from now until the vines shrivel up! Sacré bleu!

I ask: How do I clear my social calendar for good?
After careful analysis (over one-too-many bottles) we decided that I could approach this situation in two ways:

1. Less interesting approach – Blatantly decline party invitations and accept the wrath of being a bad friend.

2. More fun approach – Visit my local bottle-your-own-wine operation and purchase every bad bottle in sight! As much as it pains me to pay good money for bad wine, it would have to be done. As usual, I would arrive at each event this summer with plenty of (bad) wine in tow, and ensure that every person has a glass of white or red in hand. Most important to the plan, I would make a show of talking about my latest venture: making my own wine! I would stress how much I love my wine selections, and how much satisfaction it gives me, and how I have an entire cellar FULL of bottles to share for YEARS to come! How grand it would be to destroy my wine reputation, and accidentally spill glasses, and monopolize conversation, and ruin meals. Apparently, I am 5 years old.

I ask: What is my best plan of action?
Clearly, since the proverb recognizes the value of bad wine, I must proceed with Plan 2! With any luck, I’ll be removed from future invitation lists, and free to enjoy my quality champagne in sunny solitude. It seems the French know a few things about making wine AND creating space to enjoy it. Merci beaucoup!