He knew her early on. Every year or so they’d meet, usually around a dinner table, sometimes with friends or family. He met her when they were both young and fell for her right then and there. He never considered that she would have others elsewhere who felt the same as he. Poor old Mario, she always made him feel like he was the only one.
That’s what you think when you are full of the imperviousness of youth. Like a new wine; bracing, often rough around the edges, but so full and ready to jump in.
Over the years, when Mario would visit her in her small, dark hermitage he wondered why she chose it. How she came to be there, to spend most of her days and nights in that cold, still place, while all around her life was pulsing. He didn’t realize she was elsewhere, so blinded he was to his love for her. Mario couldn’t comprehend she had loves in other places.
And so life proceeded this way for them. She had her life and he had his. And once a year, Mario would pull her away from that dark chapel and inveigle her with music and sweetmeats, silver and crystal. And all around them would be singing and celebration and laughter and goblets full of the life she presented.
It was as if they were married. He’d known her longer than his two wives. Even with her prominence, she was always there for him at a moment’s notice, resting. Patient like Saint Claire, strong like Saint Joan.
One year, when they came together, she seemed a little off. The music helped a little, as did the festive meal and the dainty lights that twinkled on the tree. But something was changing. She appeared bent and baked.
When was it that she and Mario were both at their best? Was it 1991, when the war was over and the world seemed to start anew? Or maybe it was 1997 when all life was booming and happy and nothing could go wrong?
Sometime around the year 2000 he noticed a few more wrinkles in her. She wasn’t as brilliant and clear as she had once been. But Mario was also showing grey temples and a slower gait. Time was taking its toll on both of them. Still he loved the way she blushed, her red cheeks, even if they were tinged with time.
Around 2009, they met again. Like nothing had changed, all was bright. It was as it should be after some many years. The music, the lights, the food, the company. All was perfect.
And then they parted for a few years. He was traveling a lot. And she couldn’t travel, never liked it really. A cozy corner; cool, dark, not too wet, not too dry. She was happy enough. But she was slipping away.
This year he came to fetch her. She was thinner, greyer, but the light still burned. But it was burning out. As it must for all living things, eventually.
Is there life after death? We humans hope so. But for wine, what is there when the bottle is empty? Wine is 80+ percent water and earth is a closed system. We have the water that we have. And so it goes into the river and out to the sea. And somewhere in the ocean it rises up into the atmosphere, and travels in a cloud, maybe to fall onto a vineyard. There is life for wine after death, surely.
We will see her again, one day, won’t we Mario?
In Memoriam ~ Diane Teitelbaum
wine blog + Italian wine blog + Italy W