Now Playing

Whine Tour

Comedian Karen Bergreen, who’s bringing her stand-up act to the Southampton Arts Center Comedy Night (25 Jobs Lane, Southampton, on Aug. 7, hoped for a family vacation with lots of free wine—and no kiddie whining. Here’s how that went.

When funny lady Karen Bergreen takes her kids on a "grown-up" vacation, she finds herself between a rock and a hard place.

I love a good family vacation. So do the husband and kids. Of course, we all have different ideas of the perfect trip: I long to backpack in South Africa while a guide holds my things and every so often passes around hors d’oeuvres. My kids would love to install themselves on a roller coaster for about two months. As for my husband, his dream is a first-class trip to London—and by “first class,” I mean solo.

Of course, these are all just fantasies. In reality, we all have to compromise, which usually means: a kids’ trip. Big, loud swimming pools, aquariums (“aquaria,” if you’re in ancient Rome) and theme parks.

But the boys are 8 and 10 now, so this year we decided to introduce some adult activity too.

A great idea, we thought.

My husband is from Mendoza, Argentina, a wine mecca in South America. We take the kids there and tour a vineyard, hoping that an abundance of grapes will hold their interest for three hours.

It doesn’t.

On the tour, they’re glum. And it occurs to me, I’m a little glum myself. I’m standing in front of massive metal vats inhaling the aroma of rotting fruit and vinegar—it’s amazing to me the lengths I’ll go to just to get five glasses of free wine. But I play along with our informative guide, who speaks better English than I do. I ask her questions so I can sound smart in front of my family.

“What role does carbon play in the flavor?” I ask.

“How do they prepare the oak before they shape it into barrels?”

And, “How do you spell ‘tannin’?”

What I don’t ask is the most important question of all: “Um, when do we get the free wine?”

Finally, they bring it out. I try to look surprised, as if I’d gone on the wine tour only to appreciate the science of vinification. I take a few sips.

“The carbon is outstanding! Just the right amount of oak. Tannin— T-A-N-N-I-N,” I say, with buzzed confidence.

Suddenly, I feel my 8-year-old tug at my shirt. The battery on his electronic device has died.

“I’m bored,” he moans. “Why are we doing this?”

“This is mommy’s Hershey Park,” I say, silencing him.

But I need to avoid a pre-tween cataclysm, so I summon all my mommy MacGyver power and dig way down to the bottom of my purse and present each of my boys with a half-melted Hershey’s Krackel.

Suddenly we’re all happy.