By Ray Isle
Updated May 23, 2017

So there's nothing like arriving at the airport in plenty of time and having the smiling (really) agent say to you, after you have been foiled by the e-ticket kiosk yet again, "You're supposed to have a paper ticket." Such a simple phrase; such dire consequences. Safe to say, an hour and a half later I was sprinting through Newark Airport, after a series of bureaucratic crazinesses that would have made a border guard in Iron Curtain-era Albania shudder with horror. Arrived at the gate, breathless, only to find that gusty winds had delayed my flight to Lisbon (more on that later) by two and a half hours.

The ideal answer to this kind of soul-and-body-destroying stress is of course a good glass of wine. But of course, Newark Airport, come on. The A&W Rootbeer Hut? No vino for you, ace. The Hungry Panda Express Chinese Steam-Slop-Tray Stop? Er, maybe not.

But much to my surprise, the very sketchy recreation of Manahttan's midtown Gallagher's Steakhouse, lodged just a few quick steps past gate C121 (that'd be Terminal C, if you're in B or A and really desperate) not only has a reasonable glass of 2006 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc for $9, but will also sell you a bottle of 2002 Château Lynch-Bages for a mere $115. Lynch-Bages at Newark Airport! Go figure. And even with the airport highway-robbery markup, it's still less than you'd pay for the stuff at many Manhattan restaurants.

I take it as a sign that wine really has permeated the strange fabric of everyday American life. Follow it up with this conversation between a muscle-bound guy wearing a basketball warm-up suit and the waiter, after a bottle of Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot had been delivered and tested:

Muscle-bound guy: "That's pretty oaky—just kidding! I know wine about as well as..."
Waiter: "About as well as I know wine!"

Much laughter all around. Me, I ate my steak sandwich and drank my Manhattan (extreme circumstances require extreme remedies) and marveled at the wonder of it all.