There is a new restaurant in town called Ciao Vino and I am dying to go there. Any place with a name like Hello Wine has my immediate attention.

I am not an alcoholic. I think maybe I sound like one. Perhaps lush is a better word, at least I have been called that before.

I don't even think I am a lush, whatever that means. I'm mellow and wine suits my personality. So I drink, and drink often.

Wine, warm and soft. A red carpet, a ruby. My grandmother's garnet ring I can only fit on my pinky. Pasta-- pink, slimy pasta on the driveway after drinking too much. Black clothing, chunky crystal goblets. Roses. Cashmere. Bluegrass music, sunshine, rain, life, soul, confusion, innocence, amazement.

Wine. The color of my cheeks, the embryo of lust. I can't be normal drinking wine, but who wants to be normal? White paper--every little scrap of white paper stained plum. My advice gets stronger, my friendships get weaker and I am stuck with the weight of candid e-mails that never get returned.

Wine makes me wear my hair in braids. Two of them, Indian style, down my back like two snakes. I get looks, curious looks, that imply I am Pippy-Longstockings reincarnated.

I went running today with these long braids. It was one of those times where you question yourself, at least when I run, I question myself. My hair, my long red hair, has often dominated my unique personality. Rosie, you know...the girl with the long red hair... My hair is my security. My identity.

I cut it off two years ago. I got it cut really short, so short I cried and didn't give the hairdresser a tip. I told her to cut it to my shoulders and she layered it so thoroughly that by the time she was done I was left with practically nothing. My boyfriend laughed while my friend Matt, bless his heart, soothed me by saying my new hairstyle was good for backpacking. I think he really must have felt bad because he brought me a pair of Osh-Kosh-Be-Gosh overalls, his overalls, the next day.

I love to sew and sometimes I sew drinking wine and my pant legs all turn out uneven. I think this might be Ok because my legs are uneven anyway. I've never really been too much of a perfectionist so these little things don't throw me off. Maybe that's why wine and I get along so well.

I don't drink wine because I want to show off my classy personality. I am definitely not this kind of a snob, but I do enjoy the finer things in life, and well, if wine is one of those finer things...let me indulge and indulge again. I drink wine because it's good. It's essentially grape juice with a punch. People always ask if I drink for the flavor or for the buzz. That's a really tough question.

But, one I am not afraid to tackle.

I drink wine for the delicious combination of smooth tartness and warm, introspective feeling. My tongue turns red, my teeth purple, and yet I smile. Not because I am drunk, but because I am calm and comfortable. I don't get headaches, I do get dehydrated, but water, with a twist of lemon, takes care of that.

I don't drink wine during the day. I used to have a penchant for an afternoon glass, such is the way of my mother, but the sun has a way of naturally warming my innards. Wine is warm, night is cool, and together, I am balanced.

My mother drinks wine out of Ball Jars. I have two favorite glasses. One has my name in stained glass around the base. The other, which is now broken and probably recycled into a storm door window pane or a coke bottle, had radiant streaks of gold and silver up the side. When my "name glass" is dirty I drink out of a huge glass goblet. Supposedly this is best for red wine (so you can whiff the aroma ever so elegantly), but I don't buy into that. I just want it to roll down my throat.

I went to a vineyard once and they served wine in paper cups. I was disappointed. I thought surely wine was more important than that, after all, producing wine is their livelihood. Can you really sell wine when you serve it in paper cups? I know that I want to keep a spare wine glass in the car from now on. You have to drink wine out of glass. An unspoken rule.

The vineyard itself was gorgeous. Grapes, in their ripened prime, are full and lusty. They are beautiful purple jewels, bunched in families as large as my own. I hoped these grape families ended up in the same bottles of wine, appreciated and enjoyed. I was drinking them, fruits of the earth, embracing Bacchus, god of wine.

I worked at a restaurant two years ago, The Red Onion Cafe, that took great pride in its extensive wine list. I learned them all. I knew which wines were from where, how they "rated," what dishes they were good with. I knew if they were fruity, full-bodied, or slightly "oak-y." We had tastings every month, at which I was always an eager participant. I had found a new obsession and successfully made a living at it. My tips were great. I loved wine and could sell just about any bottle we had.

You would never guess I was a wine afficianado of sorts from the wine bottles that sit on my counter. I buy big bottles, never exceeding fifteen dollars in price. The small bottles last only hours in my household. I am not a wine snob. I don't associate myself with wine to identify with a higher class. I simply like it.

Everyone says that Ciao Vino caters to a snooty crowd. I'd still like to go there, hair braided, opinions loose and flowing. I am not there for the scene, dressed in silk and pumps, a rich man on my arm. I am there for the wine.