So this is what my life’s become: Four packages of crackers on my desk, accompanied by letters requesting the snacks be reviewed as accompaniments to wine. I feel like Marilyn Hagerty, the 85-year-old lady who reviewed the new Olive Garden for her local paper in North Dakota. Actually, that worked out quite well for her, but I’m not sure what I get out of nibbling on some extra carbs today.

I should also note that I have no prefered carbohydrate to crunch as I sip a Cabernet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever paid it the slightest bit of thought because I wouldn’t think the experience matters much if you go with Stone Wheats slathered with Epoisses or a bag of Cheetos. Whatever makes you happy is the best pairing for a wine; for me, whatever snack is in the kitchen cabinet is the best pairing for a wine, even if it’s a bag of gummy worms.

Alas, I decided to do my duty since, after all, as much as I might complain that I’m wasting a single brain cell on this blog post, someone had the less enviable task of shipping out packs of crackers to, well, crackers like me. So here we go.

I sampled each of the following crackers alone, and then a second time with wine. I told myself that this was for a fair assessment, but really I just wanted to make Thursday afternoon a little more interesting – and see if anyone would notice as I spent a work hour snacking and drinking right in the middle of the office. My wine of choice: The 2012 Longwave Monterey County Syrah.

Crunchmaster 7 Ancient Grains gluten-free crackers

Made of brown rice, sorghum, quinoa, sesame, millet, flax and amaranth, whatever that is (perhaps a grain that Ben Carson claims the ancient Egyptians stored in the pyramids?), these crackers, despite the hint of sea salt, had the flavor of a rice cake and the texture of a document issued by the DMV. With wine, however, the Crunchmaster 7 Ancient Grains was quite pleasant, likely because I could no longer taste the amaranth.

Crunchmaster Multi-Grain gluten-free crackers with sea salt

Made of rice flour and whole grain yellow corn, these crackers are much easier on the senses than the aforementioned discovery from the tomb of Ramses. The crackers even have an oven-baked aroma, which makes them pleasant to nosh mindlessly. The consistency is crunchier and more appealing, and for some unknown reason, even though I’m not hungry, I just inhaled a dozen of these things. I bet it’s the corn-chip flavor...which, by the way, doesn’t taste very good with the wine. But I have a solution for that: Some more wine.

I’m now on my second glass, and no one has batted an eyelash – not even the CEO or an advertising vendor, who were just chatting three feet from my desk. Maybe I’ll chug straight from the bottle and see if they notice....

*Chug, chug, chug*

Nope.

Crunchmaster Original oven-baked multi-seed gluten-free, crunchy oven-baked crackers

Brown rice flour, I have discovered, smells like styrofoam yet tastes like brown rice. This just got me thinking what the world would be like if styrofoam smelled like brown rice...but that’s beside the point. These crackers mostly taste like sesame seeds, which is perfectly pleasant, and they are indeed crunchy despite not smelling a whole lot like they’re oven-baked. Believe it or not, that sesame flavor actually overpowers a California Syrah. We can’t be having that, so I found that I have to drink twice the amount of wine I normally would with each cracker to achieve the right balance of flavor and harmony on my palate.

Third glass of Syrah! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Cello Whisps, Parmesan Cheese Crisps

The packaging tells me these are an excellent source of protein and calcium, which may be true, as the sole ingredient is parmesan cheese. That might be why these are absolutely delicious. I inhaled every crumb from the bag. Of course, it begs the question why I wouldn’t just have some parmesan cheese, instead, but I’m now on my fourth pour of Syrah without a single person noticing, and questions of such magnitude are far too difficult to contemplate. Either way, what a delicious combo!

I think I just want to smell the inside of the Whisps bag for a little while longer...maybe I can use rubber bands from my desk drawer to strap it to my face? I could smell parmesan, my favorite cheese, ALL DAY if I want! Paradise found, baby! Wait, then people might notice I’ve been drinking….

“How’s that Syrah?” my coworker just asked.

“Great!” I reply through an empty Whisps bag-turned-veil, sounding like a barfly Darth Vader...and looking like one, really.

I wonder if Olive Garden is open....?