Monday, January 09, 2012

My Whiskey to Wine Evolution

“Hold still,” he whispered.

“But that’s cold!”

Gentleman Jack hit my belly button. Droplets peppered my torso. One of them slipped down my side to pool on the rug. The light of the candles danced, spinning embers in the glass of the whiskey bottle. The liquor splashed between my breasts, seeped into my hair.

He poured fire into my mouth and thrust deep.

The whiskey flavored us both. He turned up the bottle and drank deeply. We began to move, deep strokes that kindled a fire in the pit of my belly.

“It’s not so cold now,” he murmured.

Ah, yes. Not long ago, there was nothing that tripped my spirited trigger like a shot of the good stuff. I preferred Gentleman Jack, both for the taste and for the nostalgia. Sometimes a shot of Patron found its way to my hand, but for the most part, it was all about the Jack. I even became a connoisseur of sorts, the one my friends consulted when they wanted to know if a certain whiskey was good enough as a gift for a special someone.

Over the last decade or so, my tastes have gradually changed. It started innocently enough, with a few bottles of wine from friends. I enjoyed them, but didn't really savor them or understand them. Fast-forward a bit and I have learned that I love blush wines, don't like most dry reds and have a sweet spot -- literally -- for dessert wines or the semi-sweet reds. What can I say? Maybe I'm a girlie kind of girl when it comes to my wine.

Over time, I am learning. I am learning what tannic structure means, and how the most interesting of words -- robust, full, delightful, heady, rich, dark, molten, decadent, aged, worthy, and so many more -- really do describe the moment of the first sip, or the first scent, or the gentle finish that is left after the first swallow. I am learning which foods pair best with which wines, and more importantly, why. I am learning how wine is created, how the intensely complex process works, going back centuries long before the first vine sinks into that particular soil.

But lately, I have discovered a whole other world opened up by the popping of the cork. It's about walking hand-in-hand into a little winery, greeting those who have the wares spread out before them, slowly tasting the good things they have to offer, rolling the flavors on our tongues while we learn about the grapes, the seasons and the secrets. It's about looking over a plump and happy vineyard in the heat of the summer, or seeing the promise in barrenness right before the winter, wandering into tiny shops with stone floors and welcoming hand-made signs and heavy doors. It's about watching the vendors carefully wrap up the wine we have chosen, then carrying the package to the car and settling it gently in backseat, a promise of what will be thoroughly enjoyed later.

Ah, yes. Later.

There's something about that question -- "Shall we open a bottle tonight?" -- that sends shivers down my spine in a way that the best of whiskey was never quite able to accomplish. It's all about drinking that sweet wine from my lover's lips, watching him sip the dark red liquid, feeling his hands become more amorous as the sexy inebriation takes hold, the kisses full and heavy and lush. It's about becoming bolder than we were before -- if such a thing were possible -- and tossing about words that make us blush, fantasies that make us hot, dreams that make us smile.

And then it's about what happens after, when we're both a little giggly and the slightest bit unsteady and a lot turned on, when the wine hasn't quite made us drunk but hasn't left us innocent either. It's about the taste of the grapes, and the taste of him, and the taste of us, all blended together until it is impossible to tell one layer of sweetness from another. It's about waking up in the morning with the slightest headache lingering, but that is nothing compared to the little aches and pains and bruises of a body well-loved in utter abandon.

It's about finding that bottle sitting in an unlikely place in the light of an early morning sun, of playing with the cork as I remember the night before. It's about setting the empty bottle on the kitchen table and leaving it there. Just because -- and why not? I like looking at it, and remembering.

Soon that remembrance turns to something more, and one of us will say, "Maybe we should try that little winery we saw a few weeks ago..."

And so it begins again.

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