March arrived and James had not forgotten the gift bequeathed to him by his late Aunt Annie. Each day he eagerly awaited the arrival of the wine Annie Annie had thought so special. He had also searched high and low to find out more about Zephyr Wine Estate but came up with a goose egg. He resigned himself to checking the return address on the box when it came, as well as the label on the wine to find out where this winery was located.
March 21. James went outside to check his mail and saw the package sitting beside his doormat. Wasn’t he required to sign for a shipment containing alcoholic beverages? Good thing he lived in California, a state without archaic barriers to prevent shipping of wine to his door.
There was no return address on the package. Was that legal? Stooping down to lift it, he noticed how light it was. He brought it inside, placed it on the kitchen table and opened the carton. Twelve bottles were inside, but they were splits. One quarter of a full bottle. Wasn’t that for cheaper wines? James wondered why his aunt would make such a big deal over cheap wine, but he had faith that if she said it was incredible, it was incredible.
A simple label graced each tiny bottle. So simple that all it had was the winery’s name: Zephyr Wine Estate, in white lettering on a black background. No information, no nothing, not even the alcoholic content. Just the sequential numbering from 1 through 12 that Annie Annie’s letter had mentioned. Gee, no wonder he couldn’t find any information on them. Talk about an underground operation! This place was breaking laws left and right.
He had no plans for the night. Bottle number one would be popped open and at last he would find out exactly what his Aunt Annie had wanted to pass on to him. Very strange, even unnerving, but at the same time he couldn’t wait to pour a glass.
Rather than drink the wine with dinner, James chose to wait and savor it later in the evening when he could devote his full attention to the experience.
Dinner passed, the dishes were washed and placed in the cupboards, and finally James sat down in his easy chair. Bottle number one of the case from Zephyr and the nicest wine glass he had both sat on the table next to him.
He thought back when he had sat in the chair for a good part of the day, blank, and opened the envelope containing Annie Annie’s letter. Then he thought about how he had looked forward to this very moment, when the wine finally arrived, and now he was about to taste it.
The bottle obligingly had a screw-top. No need for an opener. He twisted off the cap and poured the dark purple liquid into the glass. He knew enough to swirl and sniff the wine first but didn’t know enough to identify what grape or grapes it held. Whatever it was, it smelled good. Really good. Annie would never let him down.
Pursing his lips, James took his first sip.
To be continued..
Albums containing the song used for this chapter: