A few weeks ago, Kat called me from work. She had just been given an invitation to go on a wine-tasting evening with her work mates. Partners had been invited too. It was supposedly a very flash affair, with white truffles. (I know!)
“I just wanted to make sure that you did not want to come along” she said.
‘Why would I not want to come along? When else will I ever get the chance to gorge on white truffles?’
“Well because it is an event for people who really know their wines. And you don’t. Stop gasping dramatically.”
‘How did you know I was gasping dramatically?’ “Because I could hear the sharp intake of air on the phone. And stop clutching your heart.”
‘How did you know I was clutching my heart? This is a telephone conversation. Have you got secret cameras in the house? Is this like that 90s movie, Sliver?’
“Sliver? I have never watched that.”
‘What? Sharon Stone is in it’
“I don’t care. Anyway, no. I don’t have cameras in the house, I just I know you are clutching your heart because I know you are a drama queen.”
‘I resent that remark.’
“Were you clutching your heart like a drama queen?”
‘I didn’t get that last bit, I think your phone signal is breaking up. But just so you know I would love to come to the wine tasting sessions because for your information, I know loads about the vine-o.’
“It is pronounced Vee-no. Also, did you say ‘gorge’ on truffles? Do you know how expensive they are? if you intend to stuff your face…”
‘Signal has gone again!’
So, two days later, I found myself accompanying Kat and all her wine tasting buddies to a very flash vineyard.
Okay. Cards on the table time. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a wine expert. Truth be told, my drinking habits are pretty simple.
I like strawberry milkshakes, lagers and rum and cokes. Because my taste buds never devolved past my late teenage years.
To be honest I think I might have been put off wine by the fact that when I was 18 I tried to impress an older and sophisticated (which back then meant simply that she owned a car) girl that I had somehow managed to convince to come out on a date with me, by ordering ‘A white wine, like, I don’t know, a merlot?’
She never went out with me again. And to this day I blame the minefield that is fermented grapes.
But as we walked into the “estate” I was calm.
‘Just do what everyone else does and you’ll be fine’ I convinced myself.
And I was. I had a red with a hint of charcoal, a white with an after taste of pomegranate, and a very potent rosé that was supposed to remind me of a warm summer’s day in Provence. (But actually, just gave me a bit of a dull headache).
The more I drank, the less I could make out the subtleties of the wines (which I started to suspect might be all made up anyway). And if I am being honest, the more fun I was having. And then Kat stopped me.
‘When are these truffles coming?’ I asked ‘I haven’t even had one yet’.
“You can’t have a whole one, you are just supposed to have a sliver”
‘Do you remember the movie…’
“Stop gulping the wine“ she said. “Just sip. You know like the movie Sideways. Remember that?”
‘Was Sharon Stone in it?’
‘I’m just doing what everyone else is doing’
“No you’re not. You are drinking. They are spitting”
I looked around. It was true. Nobody else was gulping. Everyone was just sipping, swirling the wine around their mouths for a bit and then spitting the wine back out into some silver bowls.
“This isn’t about getting drunk. It is about elegance and refinement” Kat explained, before turning away from me and spitting out a gob-full of wine. “That is why there are all these little bowls everywhere”
And she was right, there were little silver bowls everywhere.
So, not wanting to embarrass my wife, I resolved to stop actually swallowing my alcohol (because that would be drunken behaviour) and instead start spitting. (Because that was not.)
And I started straight away. Like a pro I took a sip of a red (that was supposed to have an aroma reminiscent of “cinnamon and my childhood”) swirled it around for a bit, turned and spat it out into the bowl next to me.
Which as it turns out was not a spit bucket you are supposed to spit into, but a container full of white truffles.
Apparently, they can’t “afford” to invite partners next time.
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Steve Hili