Tasting

For F. Anon’s Prompt.

Note: I have never tasted a $5000 bottle of wine. I have, however, tasted a wide range of $5-$50 bottles.

She’d spent years getting to know suppliers, tasting their wares, sampling them on upcycles and down, knowing their accounting departments and the local gossip about their spouses. She’d worked in every food-industry job she could negotiate her way into over the past decade, getting to know every nuance of the world of cuisine, and, in the evenings, taken culinary classes. She’d hired the best cooks she could find, enlisted the best, most reliable suppliers, and worked with the most consistent PR firm in the state.

Now it was time for Liaza to pick the wines for her restaurant.

The sommelier poured her glass after glass. Riesling. Chardonnay. Niagara. Gewurtztraminer. Merlot. Pinot noir. Cabernet Sauvignon.Shiraz. She sniffed, sipped, swirled, spat.

The red wines were easy. She settled on four within a tasting of the first eight, and had reached a final six by the time she’d sipped sixteen. The whites…

“Boring. Sweet, but bland. Lemonade without the sugar. Not enough flavor. What, is everyone just pissing in a bucket?” Liaza was not normally crude, but she was growing frustrated, more so, because the sommelier just kept smiling.

Finally, he brought out five bottles. “These three,” he told her, “will suffice for most of your audiences. These two,” he set the others aside, “these are for the true connoisseurs.”

He poured one, then the other of the “will suffice,” and she had to agree. They were rich, flavorful wines, with strong notes that were not overwhelming. “And the others?” she asked, already much happier.

“Ah-ha. This one, first. This is a $5500 bottle of wine, from a tiny valley in France where they have been producing this single kind of wine for as long as France has history. It is a rich, storied wine, with a flavor to match.” He poured, she sniffed, smelling the fruity notes and a faint hint of spice. She sipped, tasting a light sweetness over an aged flavor that slid down the throat like ambrosia. This wine, she did not spit.

“Very… Very nice,” she agreed. “And the last?”

“Taste first.” He passed her a couple bland crackers, then a glass of water, and then he poured.

She sniffed, and her nose was overwhelmed. “Pear and… is that mint? How interesting! And something like the breeze over the water.”

“This,” the sommelier told her smugly, “is the most interesting wine in the world.”

“I…” She sipped, carefully, swishing the wine around in her mouth. Notes of pear, of course, and, yes, that faint mintieness and just the faintest sweetness. “This is…”

“…from a vineyard so small, most people don’t even know they exist. On the banks of a tiny New York State Lake. Yes. Fifteen dollars a bottle, although, once they are known…”

“We need a contract.” She sipped again. “And a dish that can stand up to this wine.”

The sommelier smirked. He’d told his brother this was the way to get their name out there. And it had only taken fifteen tries.

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5 thoughts on “Tasting

  1. I wonder just how blatantly the sommelier stacked the deck, there. Though if he’s effectively tying the fortunes of the winery to her restaurant …

      • Although that stacking portion reminds me of my sister’s experiences with white wine. I believe her reaction so far has been alternately, “Is this wine or vinegar?” and, “Are you sure you didn’t slip me cough syrup?”

        • We’ve tasted a lot of white wines, and that’s been my experience with a good number of them. Either too bitter, tooooo sweet, or bland.

  2. I really like this one, and I don’t drink that much wine. But I can relate to the “ugh, ugh, ugh, this is perfect” experience of wine tasting.

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