The Wine Tasting
by Wayne Scheer
Servers carefully arranged slivers of cheese, dollops of berries and crusts of bread at the table where Max and Sofia sat. They added six wine glasses, a full water glass and an empty one.
Max popped a berry in his mouth. Sofia glared.
"No one is eating yet. Can't you wait a few more minutes?"
Looking around the dining room, he saw mostly well-dressed middle-aged people sitting in straight-backed anticipation, as if awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.
Finally, a door from the kitchen opened. Max turned to see a balding man with a short ponytail saunter to the front of the room, shaking hands and kissing cheeks along the way. He praised the wines to be tasted this evening from the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy.
"Get on with it," Max whispered.
After the first bottles were poured, Max watched the man across from him sniff, sip, slosh the liquid from cheek to cheek and spit it out into the empty glass. In a proud voice, loud enough to be heard across the room, he described the "oaky" texture with a hint of pine nut.
"For crying out loud," Max said, tossing back the wine in a single swallow. "But this is good."
In fact, Max liked the wine so much, he whispered something to his wife and excused himself. He walked to the bar, ordered a bottle and a veal chop, and enjoyed himself thoroughly while the others continued sniffing, sipping and spitting.