Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Toast to Pennsylvania Wines and The Slots

While visiting our son Chris in Erie, Pennsylvania, we bought a case of wine, a very unusual occurrence for Ed and me. Usually, we have no wine stashed except around holidays, but the courtesies shown us when we visited Mazza Vineyards Winery and the pleasing tastes of the sampled Pennsylvania wines lead to this purchase.

The Mazza Vineyards Winery is located at 11815 East Lake Road (Route 5) in North East, Pennsylvania some 15 miles east of Erie. Chris, Ed and I arrived just in time to be added to the guided tour of the winery. We learned about the types of grapes used in the various wines, the growing season, and benefits of the lake shore climate on grapes. We saw a grape crusher and tanks for fermenting the wines. Our interest in the tour was greatly enhanced by the chance questioning of our guide about the advantages of cork versus metal twist off caps.

She deferred the debate to a fellow just passing the group. What luck! This fellow was a third generation winemaker for the Mazza family business. He had studied the art of wine making in Australia and Europe. He enlightened our group about American’s snobby preference for the corks, far behind Europeans’ acceptance of the technologically better metal twist caps. More questions came out of the group and he elaborated on current liquor control legislation, aging and bottling wine, and the wine market.

He continued with our group to the wine tasting room offering more wisdom and personal attention. He guided our tastes to the surprisingly fine Pennsylvania wines – Country Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot – We purchased a mixed case of the bunch.

With spirits in our system, we were game for fun with the slots. We visited the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie. Security checked Christopher’s ID then clipped a yellow bracelet on his wrist. “Everyone under 30 gets the bracelet,” apologized the security man when Chris scowled. “Oh, and don’t remove it once you’re inside or we will ask you to leave,” he added drawing a deep sigh of reluctant acceptance from Chris.

I love the sounds of the casino slots - the click of the betting buttons and especially the clang-clang-clang of winning. Eager to play, I pulled a $20 from my black Coach wallet and stuck the bill in a quarter slot machine. I stretched my cash, one quarter after another, dropping to a $12 credit quickly. Chris was faring about the same so we moved to the nickel slots; after all I wanted to stretch that initial $20.

Ed hovered annoyingly behind Chris and me until we insisted he grab a slot of his own to play too. He guided his $20 into a nickel machine next to Chris and placed a 45¢ bet. Chris and I craned our necks as Ed’s machine blinged and flashed. His credits grew and our eyes widened in disbelief. He hit for $142! Amazing!

“Hit the cash out button, hit cash out! I chimed as I pushed the button for the stunned Ed and grabbed the credit slip. “You’re taking us to dinner,” I laughed. And, dinner was what we expected…blueberry pancakes as Ed’s favorite I-90 Bob Evans Restaurant.

September 9, 2007

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