• I catch something in his voice. He’s not talking about what I think he’s talking about… Is he?
Wine grapes, Chris tells me, are smaller, sweeter, have thick skin and contain seeds. The most planted wine grape in the world is Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the first glass he gave me. A full-bodied red grape that tastes of black cherry, black currant, baking spices and cedar. By drink 4 I had mixed up all the grapes and wasn’t sure which was which. He had given me a sorbet to clear my palette after every glass but I’m a bit of a lightweight.
“This is my favourite of them all,” Chris declares holding a bottle outstretched with a huge grin. “I saved the best for last.”
He opens it with a flourish, pouring a glass and placing it in front of me. “I like this grape because it’s the underdog that came out strongest,” he says.
The story of the Malbec is quite fascinating actually. It was born in France where it was used as a blending grape and rarely made its way outside the country. The inability to export it for so long is the reason why it’s not as well known as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, despite being far superior to both. They could not export it due to its susceptibility to disease and rot. A winemaker could easily loose an entire crop just when they were about to harvest.
Because of the great risk, winemakers would never grow the Malbec in large quantities. It was grown on a very small scale at best and used as a blend with a different grape. That was until the mid 19th century, when a group of Argentine winemakers took vine cuttings from France and tried to grow the grape in Argentina. It flourished! In the hot, high altitude of Mendoza, the vines exhibited none of the weaknesses they had in France.
But we were just getting to know each other...I’m giving your magazine a lot of money. I need to know you a lot, lot betterChris
And slowly from the fields of Argentina, other winemaking regions like Chile have embraced it, making its way into a corked bottle that found its way across continents into the glass I’m holding now. I take a sip. Jam. It reminds me of jam. I’m not sure I should say this out loud, I may look foolish, so I wait for Chris to take me through it.
“Plums, blackberry and black cherries … Can you taste them?” he asks.
“Jam actually came to mind,” I say nervously.
“Jam! Yes! What a delightful way to describe it,” he says with a laugh. “Delicious jam velvet in a glass. I love it!”
He jumps up and goes over to his desk and scribbles something on a post-it note and sticks it on his computer.
“For the marketing people,” he explains. “That will be the ad running in your magazine.”
He comes over and pours more wine into my half-empty glass. I’ve really had too much to drink. “That’s enough for me thank you!” I say.
“Finish this last one,” he says, filling it to the brim.
I force myself to drink and I cringe as I let out a huge hiccup. This is embarrassing. “Could I have some-hic-water-hic-please?” I ask.
He pours me a glass of water and I put my chin to my chest and quickly down it all. Works every time.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to call it an evening,” I say placing the empty glass of water next to the wine glass.
“But we were just getting to know each other,” Chris says. “I’m giving your magazine a lot of money. I need to know you a lot, lot better,” he says.
I catch something in his voice. He’s not talking about what I think he’s talking about… Is he?