She was sitting across the table with the prettiest face Eriq had ever seen. A beautiful black gown prided on her perfect body. But he could tell, she is not the kind that one could charm very easily. She looked at him with the eyes that demanded an interesting conversation. Eriq’s reputation of being an Author usually set such expectations from the women he dated. What story could tell her, he wondered, rubbing his sharp chin.
“A story? Is that all I can offer to please you my lady?” Her asked her in an attempt to buy more time.
“Aha.. that is all. It’s is not every day that one gets to share a drink with a writer.” She looked straight into his eyes as if she challenged his art.
Eriq gazed at half empty wine bottle and pointed at it, “This.. Reminds me of a story- a true story!” he said.
This was way back in the 1980’s when I used to spend most of my holidays with Granny Medley. She lived in a town called Burfesco. It was a small commune nestled between the folds of two mountains. There was hardly any concrete there barring the cosy residential cottages with hipped roofs. That too, would be covered by green moss during the rainy season. This place was unheard of and was mostly uninhabited. Granny had her own versions about the history of the place. Some included the world war, something about the vineyards, but all versions were consistently hazy and conflicting. They usually depicted Grandpa as a Hero, were told over a glass of wine by a lady who was old and had a reputation of being tipsy.
It was generally known in the family that our beloved Granny who was once the smartest, the most widely travelled, the one that once personified elegance was now a funny old lady with partial amnesia and a flare for sharing stories from her past. May be that’s what made it so easy to talk to her. There was nobody in the family who had not poured their heart out to Granny Medley. She would either have a remedy or a story – either which way it would generally fix the issue. What more she couldn’t help but forget the whole discussion. Of all the fixes that granny had provided in answer to my silly troubles of childhood and adolescence there is one thing which I remember very dearly. It was a pearl of wisdom rolled out by innocent Medley. I was completely unaware that I would carry it into my thirties as most simplified yardstick to ensure I was with the right woman.
It was the summer after my first serious girlfriend broke up with me. Anna, was a such a warm and affectionate girl. Mild, understanding and shy or so I thought about her. I had never imagined there would be a day when she would break up with me. She didn’t even battle an eyelid while telling me it’s over or that she found the relationship too listless! I watched her walk away wearing the bright orange half shoes and a white top little above where her jeans hugged her waist. Her golden hair bounced on her shoulders till she disappeared. Not once did she look back. And so I spoke about this to Medley in an attempt to understand this girl who changed her stand overnight.
“How old is she?” Medley asked as she read the labels of her priced wine collection in a teak cupboard.
“She’s seventeen! Does that matter?” I snapped wondering if Medley actually heard my story or missed parts of it.
“Age is a factor, an important factor for a girl. Now, hold this bottle for me darling” she peered over her glasses giving me a reassuring look that some story or fix is coming my way. “Get two glasses dear, the round base ones placed in the second shelf from the right.”
I reached out for the glasses and arranged them on the table next to the window overlooking Medley's little kitchen garden. “She didn’t even look back Granny. What kind of girl does that? Aren’t they supposed to be the emotional ones?”
She joined me near the table with another bottle and a cork screw. Her grey hair curled neatly below her ear. She has this posture she normally assumes when she talks about something serious. Her foot folds towards the side with her long skirt tucked behind her legs while she adjusted her glasses, “Read out the year of the bottle next to you.” She dismissed my questions.
“1982 White Merlot.. This looks pinkish” I read out the italic words on the bottle that spoke about the greatness of French wines.
“This is the girl you dated. 1982White Merlot!” she said after taking in a sip. “You know how it is made..? The grape skin is left on to ferment for about four to five hours to give that hint of the grape tang. That pinkish hue.. aha like first love! It gives you a fleeting feeling but when you grow older its taste is too immature for an experienced man or woman of tastes. Now sip this 1978, Merlot.” She poured the wine just enough for a sip into the round based glass near me. “This is the girl who left you! 1978... you will feel there is a whole new definition to the taste of Merlot. Unlike the 1982...this one is very new in taste.. the honey and cherry are sharper. Girls and young women are like freshly made wines that define the taste giving more definition to their lives and interests as they reach different milestones of their life. She left you probably because.. you know.. you were a Chardonnay.. dry and different..... th” she stopped abruptly while looking outside window. “Oh dear, did I forget to pullout those carrots again!”
Anna, the girl I dearly loved is a bottle of Merlot and I was a Chardonnay? I let out a sigh of relief when Medley got up to take a look at the overgrown carrots. That was a conversation I didn’t want to continue. But that was only until years later when I met more women and went through more and more heart break that I realized that Medley could have had a point. My first step after this realization was identifying the wine or the woman I wanted to be with.
Cabernet Sauvignon, they say is the queen of subtlety. Sauvignon has the strong flavours of dark fruits which is masked in its earthy taste. It is bold yet elegant with an essence that lingers after the drink is long finished.
Eriq, looked at the lady who seemed very pleased with the story. She would definitely find it romantic to be associated with a wine like Cabernet Sauvignon and then he threw in a question, “Which wine do you think you are?”
This had set the pace for the night and the writer had won his required audience. His Granny passed away when he was three. He had not gone through several heart breaks as he was usually the one to break up. Anna was nobody but an element of his fiction and Cabernet Sauvignon? That was the description he had read in the wine menu.
P.S: Writing after such a long break! Wonder if it meets the expectations.