Julia was a fine wine and Robert wanted to savor every sip.
“Do you have a reservation?” asked the host at the Tuscany Room, one of the nicer restaurants in town that served outstanding Northern Italian food.
“Corentine,” answered Robert. “You are new here,” he said to the host. Robert was a regular at the restaurant, but did not become aggravated at the question as some might do. He understood that there was a steady flow of workers in and out of the restaurant and this host obviously had not met him yet.
“Yes, I am here for the summer then I’ll be going to college,” explained the young host.
“What will you be studying?” asked Robert.
“Engineering, Civil,” replied the host. “Here it is. Right over here.”
“Wonderful,” said Robert.
“Your server will be right with you,” said the host as he made his way back to his station.
Robert loved this restaurant. Not only was the food delicious but the wine selection was one of the best in the city. This was the place Robert came to for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and any other special event. Robert had many found memories of these celebrations.
“Good evening, Mr. Corentine,” started the server as he came to the table.
“Ah, Michael, correct?” asked Robert.
“Yes sir, you have a wonderful memory. I served you last time you were here,” answered the server.
Robert smiled. “Yes, I remember. Excellent service”
“Thank you sir. I will try to repeat that again tonight,” said Michael.
“I’d expect nothing less. Tonight, I would like to start with a bottle of Massolino Barolo 2013,” said Robert. “Then we’ll go from there.”
“Excellent choice. I will be right back,” replied Michael as he hurried off.
Robert smiled as he saw Julia across the table looking absolutely stunning in the dim lights of the dining room. Julia wore a simple summer dress with a throw around her shoulders. The restaurant was typically a bit cool, even in the summer months. Julia always had a throw or a light sweater to keep her warm. The colors of the dress highlighted her stunning green eyes. Robert continued to smile. Julia always had an attractive figure, but it was her eyes that Robert noticed first when they met. Much like a fine wine, it was later that he came to appreciate all of her beauty.
It was so many years ago. Both Robert and Julia landed jobs for a major retailer out of college. They both were determined to make a name for themselves in the business world. One day, going to another meeting, they crossed paths near the northwest breakroom somewhere in the maze of cubicles. The office space was a converted warehouse with thousands of square feet of room for all of the purchasing division. Thousands of people worked just feet away from each other. Most never met who worked down the hall or across the aisle. The sheer chance that these two crossed paths was definitely fate. Robert spent all afternoon walking up and down rows of cubicles searching for the green-eyed beauty. Once he finally found her, he never let go. And she was happy he did not.
“Here you are sir,” said Michael as he returned with the wine. He poured a small amount in the wine glass for Robert to try. Robert brought the Italian red wine to his nose. Robert inhaled deeply through his nose picking up the floral and spice fragrances. Twirling the wine in the glass for a few seconds, he then tasted the wine.
“Excellent,” said Robert. “Do you mind to decant this though?” Robert knew that the wine should have been decanted a least an hour before dinner, but this would have to do.
“Not a problem,” replied Michael. He hurried to the bar for the decanter.
Robert and Julia had planned on going to Italy many years ago, well before there were children, and mortgages, and car payments, and all the other things that creep in that demand where each dollar was spent. In the planning of the trip that never happened, Robert decided to learn about the wines of the country. Over the years, he became well versed on the many varieties, regions, and classifications of Italy’s wine, both red and white. Robert preferred the reds, Julia the whites. They both loved the food.
Robert ordered the quail with pasta, knowing the bird would perfectly compliment the wine.
“Excellent choice,” said Michael again.
“Thank you, do you have mushrooms tonight?” asked Robert.
“We do, yes sir. Shall I bring those to start with?” asked Michael.
“Please do,” said Robert.
“Very well,” replied Michael. Again, he was off not wasting time to get Robert’s order to the kitchen.
Robert poured himself a large glass of the wine. He took a sip enjoying the wine on his tongue. He swallowed purposely to identify each note of the taste profile.
He smiled again thinking how he must look to anyone that was watching. Robert was a big man, six feet four inches tall and over 250 pounds, well 260 actually. Most men his size are stereotypically paired with beer or even harder alcohol like bourbon. Robert never enjoyed those drinks. He always enjoyed the complexities of wine. The smell, taste, and mouth feel all have a part in the enjoyment of the wine. Over time, he realized this was the same with Julia.
Julia was a fine wine through and through. Much like the grape vines that are cared for and nurtured long before any grape is produced, Julia’s parents made sure she had the best opportunities as a child. Her parents did not have a lot of money but had enough to care for her and her sister. They purposely planned trips each year so that their daughters could experience the mountains, oceans, resorts, small towns, and whatever else their destination provided. All of these trips added up to incredible life-long memories.
Quality wine typically requires the grapes to be stressed somewhat during the growing season. High temperatures, a reduction in water, even wind can cause grapes to stress. The ones that make it through usually possess amazing flavors. Julia was stressed during her Junior year of college when her mother was killed in a car accident. She quit school for a year to help her father adjust and take care of him and the household. She returned to college and graduated with her business degree.
Wines of course are made in the winery. The winemaker has to balance both science and art to create an exceptional wine. Robert and Julia’s marriage produced a fine wine. Through their marriage, they experienced what typical couples do – children (a boy and a girl), financial ups and downs, job changes, moving into larger, then smaller, homes, and the illness. Julia even quit her initial job, the one where they met, to stay home when their son was born. She spent every day with the children, teaching, playing, coaching, doctoring, and loving them until they left to raise their own families. She continued to pour herself out when Robert became sick. Constantly attending to his needs until the illness was controlled. This is where Robert saw her blossom. Everything that the children had become, and Robert himself, was directly related to Julia and her sacrifice and care of her family.
Robert smiled at the memories. He smiled at Julia and her beautiful green eyes. He poured another glass of the Barolo and enjoyed his meal greatly.
“Mr. Corentine, how was everything tonight?” asked Douglas, the long-time owner of the Tuscany Room.
“Wonderful as always. Thank you, Douglas.” replied Robert.
“I have taken the liberty to instruct the kitchen to provide a meal for your service dog. I hope that is acceptable,” said Douglas as he placed the doggy bag on the table next to Robert’s arm. The golden retriever, that was laying at Robert’s feet, raised his head as if he knew the men were talking about him.
“You are too kind,” replied Robert.
“I am very sorry to hear of your loss of Ms. Julia. I saw the news in the paper. Tonight would have been your anniversary. The meal is on the house, my treat,” said Douglas. He paused and then added “What a wonderful lady. There are none other like her.”
“Thank you again,” replied Robert as tears began to well up in his eyes. He raised his glass to the vision of Julia sitting at the table and took another sip in her memory.
“How was the wine? It is a fine wine,” inquired Douglas.
“A fine wine indeed,” declared Robert.