“Expensive wine is a weakness we both share,” he said.
He took a sip of Chardonnay from a glass he had nursed through fried calamari. I was quite sure it was domestic but I refrained from asking.
“Yes,” I replied. “Nowadays my main go-to wines are Chablis Premier Cru for whites and Chateauneuf du Pape for reds.” I boasted. I was being an ass.
He smiled in acknowledgement but I wasn’t sure if he knew what those wines were.
I decided to change the subject. We were having a business dinner at an uppity suburban mall, just he and I. He was an agreeable character, pleasant, easy to talk to. No sense in me getting overbearing, as I can be when the subject of wine comes up. The conversation moved on. In the meanwhile, I was left wondering, is he a wine guy?
The waitress brought our entrees. He looked at his empty wine glass, then at me. “Are you sure you don’t want something to drink?”
I was nursing a bottle of Pellegrino. I had driven a long way to meet him and had to drive back. I couldn’t tell him that I despise wine by the glass, nor was I to order a bottle and then drive. “No thanks. I’ll have something when I get home.” I mentally opened the screw top on a Talbot Kali Hart Pinot Noir that awaited me, a wonderful, easy drinking Central Coast Pinot.
He gave me a suit yourself look and examined his plate: New York steak and potatoes. “I’ll have another glass of that Chardonnay,” he told the waitress politely.
Allright, he is not a wine guy. I speared a fat shrimp sitting atop a tall mound of fettuccine. The conversation moved on amicably. He cut a generous piece of steak and washed it down with the Chardonnay. Maybe I am being prejudiced, I thought. Nowadays there are many out there who are into unconventional wine-food pairings. Maybe he has a thing for steak and Chardonnay. Who am I to judge him?
I forced myself to quit bothering about his glass of wine and focus on our meeting. It was going well. The waitress approached us for dessert. I didn’t want any. I asked for a cup of Cappuccino instead. He said he’d like one too.
The coffee was extra foamy. We each wiped white mustaches from our upper lips and took deep sips to get the liquid hidden beneath. We were winding down our encounter with future deals we would make, idealistic goals to serve our respective communities. I forgot about his Chardonnay.
He didn’t. He shot a glance at his glass, discovered more Chardonnay and took a sip.
Did that really just happen? I tried to suppress my agitation. As if reading my mind he absent mindedly gulped more Cappuccino, then took another quick sip of wine. He smacked his lips and continued talking.
I was horrified. He may as well have been drinking his own urine.
We parted amicably, our business smoothly concluded. I drove home sober, and sobered by what I had witnesses. He definitely was NOT a wine guy.
It took more than half the bottle of Talbot Kali Hart for me to forget the grisly combination of domestic Chardonnay with Cappuccino. Temporarily, it turns out. As I write these words I am certain that I will never forget.