A drink in detail: Playing the waiting game

I sit nervously sipping wine in a wine bar. The person I await is always late, so I’m not sure why I ever arrive on time. With nothing to distract me — no TV, no computer, no phone — my itinerant mind notices everything. The soul patch stuck to the bartender’s face. How does he shave it so perfectly in a rectangle? The bit of cork backstroking in my malbec. The impeccably dressed, impatient guy smelling strongly of cologne and machismo. I bet his date is late, too. Stupid traffic. Why don’t we have better public transport? Maybe everyone should live in urban high-rises like in Hong Kong. That’s right, I’m going there in the fall. Well, not Hong Kong, but close enough. China has wine; maybe I’ll get to try some …

I should focus on the malbec. Write it off as a business expense. Wow… need to do my taxes. The garnet-colored liquid rolls around the wide-mouthed glass like a … does Riedel have malbec glasses already? Need to check that. Where’s my phone so I can note … oh yeah, I left it at home to be polite. Rings constantly. Need to remember to change the ringtone.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply, like during yoga. Focusing only on the smell of the wine, blocking out distractions to concentrate on the aromas floating … raspberry, cherry … raisins? Maybe raisins. Go back to that later and re-evaluate. But that would be weird in an Argentinean malbec. Well, not if it were aged — really aged. This isn’t. Would be nice if they sold aged stuff here. Plums! Yes, ripe plums. I wonder if other people would sense that? They say that women are much better smellers than men. Too bad I can’t use my nose to smash the glass ceiling.

Who are “they?”

When the wine hits my tongue, it’s like soft little explosions of acidity and fruit. I swish it around in my mouth like mouthwash. Do I look stupid? Where did I learn that? Culinary school. Wine class. Europe. What happened to my Swiss friend Stephanie? I should find her online. Things were so easy at 22. No mortgage, no car payment. Mom and Dad footing the bill. I should call them.

Man… didn’t notice the finish on the wine. I hate when I forget I’m supposed to be working. But wait, there’s more to taste! I sniff again. Am I getting a cold? Smells different this time — fruitier and more approachable. It’s aerating. Changing so quickly I can’t keep up. I love wine. Never the same taste twice, whether I like it or not. I should watch Sideways again … that scene when they’re on the porch revealing their shared love of pinot. Black pepper. Dirt. The crumply napkin is filling up with scribble. Shouldn’t have left the Treo. Soul Patch is staring at me funny. Do I have wine dribbling down my chin? Oh. My glass is empty. Already? Of course I want another. Should I get something else? Never advisable to order the same wine twice. Must explore. Where is my friend? Don’t have the phone to call. I’m an idiot.

Cool. Larger pour this time. I should tip Soul Patch well. Merlot — smells fruitier, yet more elegant with — what is that? Blueberry jam? Ooh. That’s cool. Poor maligned grape. People don’t realize how wonderful merlot really is. It’s gotten better in the past five years. Perhaps Sideways did it a favor. Wonder what this place uses for wine storage?

Cool. He’s here. Do I say something about the lateness? What’s the point?

“Hey! Do you smell blackberry in this?”


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