Today I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite things: wine!
Let me state at the outset that I am a wine enthusiast, but not really a connoisseur. We have at least a glass or two almost every night with dinner. I'm partial to reds, particularly Côtes du Rhône, Pinot Noir and Australian cabernets. Not that I'm all that picky, though. The house red will usually be just fine, especially when it's sold by the liter.
I've been to a few wine tastings. Although I learned quite a bit, “refining my palate” as they say, it seemed a terrible waste to have to spit out all those exquisite samples.
I associate wine with traveling. Certainly one of the delights of visiting a new country or region is the opportunity to try new vintages. My first international journey was a low budget trip to Spain in the seventies, with my closest friend. She and I quickly discovered that a pitcher of vino tinto was significantly cheaper than a glass of Coca Cola. The passage of time may not be the only reason my memory of those four weeks is a bit hazy.
More recently, my husband and I spent ten days in Provence, true heaven for a wine lover. Then there was our marvelous trip to Croatia, where they call the red wine “black” and dispense it from enormous stainless steel tanks into the bottles customers bring to the stores. And even after twenty years I can summon the dark fruitiness of the Kavaklidere Papazkarasi we drank in Turkey.
In addition to travel, wine always makes me think of sex. It's not just the fact that one sensual experience leads naturally to another. In many societies, wine and grapes have traditionally been associated with sexuality. Followers of Bacchus, the god of the vine, engaged in frenzied orgies after imbibing. Feeding one's lover ripe grapes has become a cliché – but don't knock until you've tried it! Wine has been used in ritual since ancient times. In many cultures, including my own Jewish tradition, sharing wine seals the marriage bond.
My characters like wine almost as much as I do (and sex, possibly more). I've written more than one scene that used wine as an erotic prop. For example, there's this bit in Raw Silk:
Katherine cried aloud, writhed and moaned. Then, in the midst of her climax, she felt cooling liquid filling her, streaming down her thighs. She opened her eyes. Somtow held the wine bottle and was deliberately pouring the remaining contents into her vagina, an almost childish delight on his face.‘Ah, my Katherine!’ He leaned over and began to drink the wine from her flesh, lapping the ruby drops from her thighs. ‘Excellent wine, but the taste can only be improved by mixing in your delicious liqueur.’
Then there's this snippet from Nasty Business:
That was the night, I recall, that he bathed me in champagne. Such a cliché, I know, right up there with whipped cream, but how many women have actually felt the marvelous sensation of a million tiny bubbles bursting between their legs? The pleasure was incredible, just sitting in the tub while Liu poured bottle after bottle of the chilled, prickly wine over my shoulders and breasts. Then he leaned over and licked me, sucking the sweetness from my nipples, growing intoxicated (as he said) from drinking my flesh.That was not enough for him. He grew mischievous, bidding me with mock severity to kneel in the tub with my buttocks in the air. “Spread yourself wide,” he instructed, nudging my thighs apart and bringing my hands up to my sex. I was more than willing to hold my puffy labia apart as he drenched my vagina in Chateau Rothschild ‘88. Then, he actually inserted the neck of bottle into my hungry cunt, and tipped the remaining liquid into my inner cavities.
Wine features prominently in the plot of Incognito, though it doesn't manage to make its way into anyone's orifices. The heroine's cat knocks a glass of wine onto an antique journal. The liquid reacts with the invisible ink to reveal the original owner's very private confessions. Just for the heck of it, I counted the number of times the word “wine” appears in that novel. Thirty six times! And of course that doesn't include references that use a synonym or a specifier, like “Pinot Grigio” or “Merlot”.
So at this point you probably think that both I and my characters are lushes. Not so! Though I may be tempted, only rarely will I imbibe before the sun goes down. And I know my limit (about three glasses). I'm clumsy enough when I'm sober!
There is something fantastically decadent about wine in the afternoon, however. You never know what will happen. I recall a visit to a California winery with one of my first lovers, long ago. After sampling the various vintages available (and purchasing a few bottles as souvenirs), we were too inebriated to drive back to our hotel. So he ravished me in the back seat of his car, tucked away in the shade in a far corner of the parking lot. The wine seemed to heighten my senses rather than dull them. Afterward, a golden glow suffused the afternoon – an aura of magic.
I still can't see a bottle from that particular vineyard without tumbling into intoxicating memory.
I turned my memories of that visit (significantly augmented) into a short story, entitled A Case of You. I’d be happy to send you a copy. All you need to do is leave me a comment with your email address.