wine hearts and wine

You Had Me at… Flash Fiction

The following flash fiction story was shortlisted in the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction contest a little while ago. We were given half a dozen descriptive prompts to include, such as, ‘cold and greasy’. I hope you enjoy it.

‘Sweet and pungent,’ he says with authority before sloshing the wine around his mouth. In fervent concentration, his eyebrows dart around like hungry caterpillars trying to escape. ‘Be free little guys,’ I think to myself, ‘Save yourself’. Or did I say it out loud? It was hard to tell. Unlike my sipping and swilling date, I prefer the gulp and guzzle school of wine-tasting.

I down my glass. The disapproving look he casts me is reminiscent of being summoned to the school principal’s office. Was he a school principal? I can’t recall, but a review of his heavily slicked-back hair, his blue Wall Street shirt with white collar and shiny, silver cufflinks, confirms that he’s a professional twat.

After dating a string of kale-eating, teetotalling, wannabe ninja warriors, I’d been attracted to the part of his profile that said he enjoyed a good wine.

He suggested wine tasting for our first date, bringing me along to his wine appreciation club, which is nowhere near as much fun as it sounds. It involves hours of painstakingly detailed analysis of wines with little of the ‘enjoyment’ you’d expect from drinking said wine.

As I procure myself another glass of wine he excuses himself to go to the bathroom.

‘Cold and greasy with a bitter aftertaste.’ I’m startled by the deep voice behind me.

I spin around to be greeted by a jeans and T-shirt wearing man who could easily pass as a Hemsworth brother.

‘Sorry? Which wine are you describing?’

‘I’m describing your date.’

I choke on my wine.

He flashes a dimpled grin. ‘I don’t know crap about wine…or more accurately, I don’t give a crap, as long as it tastes all right. So I’m describing the wine club members instead.’

I can’t resist a smile.

‘Why don’t you try?’ He indicates his date, a petite woman gesticulating and loudly disagreeing with one of her fellow members about something to do with tannins.

‘Okay then. Light-bodied and acidic with a shrill, piercing finish.’

‘Ohhh, that’s harsh.’

I’m about to apologise when he laughs. ‘No that was a good one. Go again.’ He looks in the direction of an older man whose tanned face speaks to a lifetime working outside. His navy blazer appears to be covered in white cat hair.

‘A great vintage, but a little scratched and weather-worn.’

He counters by describing a man, wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches and an ink-stained tartan tie, as ‘crisp and dry with nutty undertones’.

We succumb to a fit of giggles ignoring the collective shushing and stares from around the room. Eventually, we recover. ‘We’re going straight to hell,’ I say.

‘I thought we were already there. Say, do you want to get out of here?’

‘It depends.’

He raises a questioning brow.

‘On your description of me.’

He strokes his chin in mock thought.

‘Unapologetically complex and exuberant with just the right amount of spice.’ His eyes twinkle. ‘Did I pass?’

‘You had me at cold and greasy.’