TASTE AND OTHER TALES
The author and his wife, Mike, his wife and daughter and a man called Richard Pratt, were having dinner at Mike’s as twice before. Richard was an epicure, he loved food and wine.
Mike always played a betting game on Richard about what wine it was and Richard had always won. The game was a pleasure for both. Mike was ready to lose the bet to prove his wine was recognized and Pratt loved showing his knowledge. That night, he served a Mosel wine. A very unusual wine,`Geierslay Ohligsberg, 1945. It came from a very small village in the Mosel area in Germany, but only a little of this wine was produced Mike waited for the moment Richard Pratt would drink his first drop but he was in a deep conversation with Louise, Mike’s 18 year old daughter. He leaned closer and closer to her but the poor girl leaned as far as she could from him. The first course finished and the servant was ready to bring the second course, roast meat, when Mike said the best wine for this food was a claret. He had already opened it. It was on top of the green cupboard in his study, the best place in the house for a wine to reach room temperature. Mike said it would be difficult to get it, but Richard finally bet the hand of Mike’s daughter in marriage if he could The author saw something devil in Richard’s face.
Louise and her mother were against it. But Mike was as sure Richard couldn’t get it, as Richard was he could. Mike told Louise she could own two properties, but she refused. Finally, she accepted helplessly, as her father swore there was no danger of losing. Richard was about 50, he didn’t have a pleasant face. It was all moth and lips. The typical face of a professional epicure. He started smelling the wine carefully. Then the tasting process started. First he decided what area of Bordeaux it came from. It was far too light to be from St Emilian or Graves. It was obviously a Medoc. Then, from which part of Medoc it was. It couldn’t be a Margaux or a Pauillac. It was very gentle, so unmistakably it was a St. Julien. In that moment, Louise intended to light a cigarette and Richard got quite angry at that.. He continued. He said the wine was from a great year. He said it could be a Beycheville or a Talbot. He drank a little more. He said it couldn’t be any of them but it was so close to them it had to be somewhere almost in between He finally decided it was a Chateau Branaire-Ducru, year 1934. Mike’s face started getting pale, as his wife and daughter stared at him. Richard felt himself a winner. Suddenly the servant held out to him a pair of glasses and said he had left them in Mr Schofield’s study, on top of the green cupboard, where he had gone before dinner. The colour came back to Mike’s face. Everything was understood.
After two days of fairly rough weather, the sea was calm and the whole ship seemed more friendly. At 8 o’clock the dining room was filled with people with the confidence of experienced sailors. But the meal wasn’t half over when the ship started rolling again and only after 5 or 6 minutes it was swinging heavily from side to side. When a really bad roll came, Mr Botibol, sitting at the purser’s table saw his plate sliding away and Mrs Renshaw, sitting at the purser’s right, gave a cry and held onto his arm. Most of the passengers continued with their meal and a small number went away. When the eating was finished, Mr Botibal went to Mrs Renshaw’s empty place, next to the purser and wanted to know if the captain had already made his guess at the day’s run for the competition before the sea had begun to get rough. The purser said he couldn’t really tell Mr Botibol guessed if it got worse it would be worth buying some of the low numbers and asked the purser what he would choose. He answered he didn’t know the range as it wasn’t announced until the auction started. At auction time, he took a chair next to the auctioneer’s table. He imagined the winner would get around 7 thousand...
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