To taste wine is an art. Never would he say to his current lover, (a nice woman, physically very attractive and, of course, regrettably superficial), that to taste wine is an art. She would look at him, he knew, with those incredible violet eyes and try not to laugh. A woman who tries not to laugh is so unattractive, especially with a very expensive crystal wine glass in her delicate hand. Suddenly the very expensive red glow in the delicate crystal globe sloshes around like a well-bodied ale; unacceptable.
He was met by a well-mannered waiter, and shown to a small, well used, round, wooden table. The spot was chosen by the lady, (not his current lover mind you) of course. He found himself thrilling just slightly. What would Anna think of him, meeting another woman, in a town in Northern Vermont?
He took his seat. He was early, by her suggestion. Her note encouraged him to try the wine, exceptional – especially the red. She would meet him in the evening, and become reacquainted. They had parted on good terms – one of the few in his life. He was excited to see her again, over his first passion; wine.
When he was younger, he had just enough money to live and to taste wine. There were, thankfully, a few women in his life that would sleep with him because they found him attractive. There were the occasional, (he cringed to use the term, so crass) one night stands due to the wine he introduced them to making him irresistible, he knew. He was not egotistic; the wine did the job, not his manners, his mind or his body.
But care must be given to getting attached to a woman. He was not born into a vast fortune and he was not inclined to drive the chariots of business to acquire, with diabolical relish, the two things that he found attractive in life; wine and women.
He smiled to himself, looking out at the dingy, wet, street: “Wine and women.” Really, the connotation of that statement should not sum up a selfish snob or cold-blooded lover in the minds of the world – mostly female minds – for he was an exception to the statement – truly. He did not want to make up his mind between one or the other – he wanted both and he wanted the best of both. So what was he to do? The only thing he could do – both within moderation.
He had to admit that when he was in his thirties, he spent too much time alone. He refrained from younger women – completely un-teachable in the art of wine tasting; too fast, too virginal, too needy. He did take comfort with some older women, but they often found him comical in a way he found insulting. But this woman, ahh, he was close, to falling in love with her. Until one night, alone and with an exquisite, dry white, he decided to write down what love was.
He wrote that one word on the yellow pad of paper and stared at it through the entire bottle. Was.
The next day, he met her for lunch and ordered everything red. The filet, the sauces, the wine and broke it off with her. She didn’t cry over the time they had spent. She simply said, she knew the time would come – she had no hopes their relationship would last to marriage, children, Christmases before the fireplace. She knew and was grateful for what they had.
He was astounded. He watched her walk out of the restaurant and never heard from her again. And 20 years later he received a letter from her. He knew beyond a doubt that he must see her again. The old photo of them together, wine glasses in hand at some party they attended intrigued him. He looked up the address, the town, the place – were there – he need only accept.
He tasted the wine the waiter brought; a taste all of its own, a sort of raw, exciting taste, that made him tense and feel within him an urge to pace. He felt himself immerse in a pleasure that made him edgy and…(could it be possible) feel just a little mean, just a little rough. She was no doubt still beautiful, probably married. Who but married people live in Vermont. Perhaps she and her husband had an upscale bed and breakfast. If she had children perhaps they were off to college, obtaining a degree in hotel management.
No, he had to stop. He took another sip of wine and felt again that edge, that good hurt of taste that he never experienced before. He wanted to capture that actual taste upon his tongue and not the overwhelming afterglow of emotion the wine procured for him. A sweet grape, an almost euphoric floral start at the tip of his tongue that chilled to an ash, and almost wonton woman taste that shimmered down his throat and warmed his belly, as if her hand ( was he confusing the wine’s taste with the woman already? That amused his more clinical mind) was just above his belt, flat and warm and steady.
“Hello Roger,” The voice was as he remember it, soft but now with an edge of worldly knowledge about it. He started and looked up. She wore a tight fitting dress, a deep burgundy. Her skin was a soft glowing cream and her hair, now long, was glossy down her back. She had not aged a bit. He felt himself start to stammer, stopped himself, stood, and proffered her a chair.
“Always the gentleman.”
His astonishment at her beauty kept him in silence. Could it be the same woman? She sat, looked up at him, and without a doubt, she was the same woman.
“How are you?”
“Good, I’m good.”
“Do you like the wine?”
“Yes, I’ve never tasted anything like it.”
“Nor will you again.”
He remembered very little – except that he is now driven from the light of day and driven to drink rather than taste.