So, You’re Saddled With: That Cat Wine
Tina will often take the opportunity to criticize the nearly-barren appearance of my office at work, devoid as it is of any personal decoration or indication that anyone even works there. I don’t have any little personal tchotchkes, souvenirs of the work events I’ve attended or even little trophies of my office conquests. There is no evidence of the Great Sales Recovery Quarter, no certification of whatever promotions I may have (heavy emphasis on may have) enjoyed, and not even a picture of my beloved fiancée on my desk.
This is for a particular set of reasons, numbered thus:
- When I first started working at the IBM call center, lo those many years ago, I used to show up ridiculously early to get ahead on things (and satisfy my pathological fear of being late). Usually only two or three people would beat me in — one of whom would roam around from cubicle to cubicle, carefully inspecting the personal photographs pinned up at everyone’s desk in order to assess the attractiveness of the employee, their friends or their spouse (depending on gender). He would then discuss the information he had gathered with the rest of us at lunch, oblivious to how weird we thought it was… and given that we worked in an office where one particular guy would fart tremendously at our desks while yelling, “BAMF!” and then run away, I’m not sure he was wrong to feel normal.
- Any pictures on or at your desk with pets immediately pigeon-holes you for eternity.
This isn’t meant to reflect unkindly on your co-workers, most of whom when thrust into the desperate situation of a Secret Santa will cast about for even the slightest hint of a welcome gift. If that means that they have to assume from the single photograph of you with a cat that you love items, toys, books, videos, accessories and garments with a feline theme, well, you might as well be grateful. It was either that or a Kentucky Fried Chicken gift certificate, so if you want to be Mr. Picky then why not share more of your god damned inner life for a change.
And unless you are an entirely whimsical, flamboyant or humorous character around the office — which I am most assuredly not — then you’re going to find yourself with that perfect intersection of the sub-$20 gift and the pet-theme: That Cat-Shaped Bottle of Wine.
Produced by Moselland, an apparently award-winning producer of German white wines that just happens to have an obsession with novelty bottling, the Cat-Shaped Bottle of Wine is a constant of the holiday season — whether you’re giving or receiving, it seems like a year never passes where one of these turns up. For the true cat enthusiast it may be an absolute delight, but for anyone who doesn’t want to keep their wine longer than their pet it presents a quandary: the wine itself is kind of crappy, and should be consumed within two years at the longest; on the other hand, the bottle itself is the novelty gift, demanding preservation. So, how does one dispose of the product where everyone — including the vintner — feels the package is of greater value than its contents?
The only answer is, as many ways as you can.
The Crowd Pleaser
The white wine spritzer
- 2 parts white wine
- 1 part club soda
- That’s it
Here’s the practical delight of the white wine spritzer: It takes the edge off of just about any kind of wine, immediately disguising its shortcomings behind a screen of deliciously bitter soda water. It adds effervescence, lends freshness and tastes bloody good when served nice and cold. It’s absolutely ideal for the types of people who keep their pinky finger extended any time they think they’re drinking anything close to champagne, which can save you an absolute pant-load of money come the New Year’s Party (and afterparty) season.
The creative joy comes from the fact that you’re dealing with a simple 2:1 ratio, meaning you can inject all kinds of mad fun in there on your own. Feel like pink coolers? Add some grenadine in there for grown-up Shirley Temples. Want something electric and citrus? Drop Lime Cordial in there instead. Slice up limes and lemons for a slightly more acid flavor, or peaches and plums for a more Southern flavor.
The important thing is that, whatever your feelings about the original Riesling, the white wine spritzer is your opportunity to dilute it for the crowd, take advantage of its sweetness, and still express your creativity. How many times can you say that when it comes to emptying out the innards of a cat?
- 6 oz. of That Cat Wine
- 1.5 to 2 oz of Creme de Cassis
- Chill, mix gently in a wide-bottomed glass and sip
During our journey through France, Tina and I discovered nearly every permutation of Kir that one could imagine — from the thin and slightly pink versions we found in Paris, right down to the throaty and flavorful version in Burgundy. The flavors of a hefty Riesling would back up my preference for the Burgundian approach, featuring a strong mix of the blackcurrant liqueur and the sweet wine to complement each other.
With holiday parties approaching and wine supplies being as scarce as they are, the Cat Royale is your chance to offer guests a beautiful, interesting and yet altogether approachable wine cocktail. Your Cat Wine will go to good use, your Cassis will not be misused, and you will enjoy a productive way of cracking that feline’s head open just as soon as it comes through the door.
The Vacation in a Bowl
- 1 bottle Cat Wine
- 1/2 cup peach schnapps
- 3 cups white grape juice (preferably zero or low-cal)
- 1 chopped up peach
- 1 chopped up white nectarine if available, or some other pitted fruit!
- 1/4 cup blueberries
Hey, I’m just as happy as anyone that Christmas is coming. I like the snow, before it gets all hard and frozen and awful in January; I love the music and the lights, right after I finish my Christmas shopping and they no longer resemble a glaring chorus constantly reminding me of my procrastination. The Yuletide season is a beautiful and delightful one, but there’s no reason that we have to forget about the sunnier times altogether, do we?
There’s going to be a point sometime in January, after the decorations come down and the gifts have all been put away properly, where you’re just going to want to remember what it was like when the sun shone for longer than it didn’t. You’re going to feel nostalgic for the smell of grass, the taste of fresh vegetables, and a time when people weren’t talking about hockey so friggin’ much. It’s these times when a big pitcher of boozy, fruity, happy goodness can really go the extra mile for you.
Our recipe originally calls for dry white wine, but a little sweetness only means that you should back the juice off to a non-or-low calorie equivalent. Then you won’t feel like you’re quaffing an alcoholic soft drink (we have plenty of those recipes elsewhere, anyway), and can just enjoy the brief respite from the frosty outdoors.
The Economical Choice
- 3 parts Cat Wine
- 1 part sparkling or soda water
- 1 part orange juice
The traditional Mimosa actually has sparkling white wine (or champagne, if your name happens to be Admiral I. M. Wellthy, PhD) as its key ingredient, but that doesn’t do anyone coming out of the Great Recession any good — let alone those of us who suddenly have cat-shaped white wine to deal with. Fortunately, only a slight bit of alchemy will help you achieve the same dog-hair-to-hangover ratio that you’ll need to get through the many holiday hangovers that lie ahead of you.
Most importantly, the wine ratio needs to stay the same, not simply to preserve the alcohol content, but to hold up the sweetness of the beverage. The soda or sparkling water will ensure that everything is appropriately bubbly, while the reduced portion of orange juice ensures that at least of the few vitamins leeching from your bones will find their way back in, at least for the time being.
Mimosas are, like the sangrias above, most pleasantly served in pitcher-sized proportions, while Sunday-morning funk music plays on a random internet radio station and everyone talks quietly over their omelettes. Is that really the best time to bust out your best Dom Perignon, or would you rather give your new cat a good home?
Of course you would! It’s the responsible thing to do.
The holidays are a time of joy, generosity and kindness — but occasionally also desperation, which is how occasionally even the most dedicated and thoughtful person will occasionally give up and give you something because the packaging was pretty funny. Rather than preserve the contents far longer than they should, hopefully this can inspire you to some uses of those adorably-packaged white wines that might otherwise dwell far too long on your wine rack.
There’s always an audience for a white! It’s simply a matter of how you choose to package it next.