“I’ll try my best, Miss Livingston,” he said, grinning.
“Good, come over to the sofa and sit down. Now turn to one side,” she said, picking up a long, black silk scarf. “I’m going to put this over your eyes. This is a test about the flavors of things, and the poetry of flavor. You know a lot about wines, so we’ll start with wine. I’ll read you the description of a wine, and you have to guess what it is.”
“Why do I need a blindfold, if I’m not actually tasting the wine?”
“You’re blindfolded so that I’ll have more power and you’ll have less. And also because I happen to think it’s very sexy,” she said, caressing his hair. Just the sight of him with the silk blindfold over his eyes, skimming his high cheekbones, aroused her to a surprising degree.
“Do I have to name the vintage? I’d be crap at that,” he said.
“No, no, just the varietal, or the region if it’s European. I’m a very lenient grader, but if you get it wrong, you have to take off a piece of clothing.”
“And if I get it right?”
“Then I’ll give you something good to taste, or maybe I’ll talk dirty to you. Would you like that?”
He grinned again. “I’m beginning to like it already.”
“Okay, are you comfortable? Here’s the first one: A creamy yet refreshing wine, with a long seamless finish. Subtle hints of pear blossom and the toasty aroma of buttered sourdough.”
“That sounds like Champagne,” he said.
“Close enough. It’s the 1999 Schramsberg J. Schram vintage sparkling wine, made with Chardonnay grapes from Carneros. Well done, James!”
“What’s my reward, Professora?”
“Just a minute, I have to get my tray of goodies….open your mouth.” She put a tiny round of dark cake with a crusty top between his teeth. “What does it taste like?”
“Dark chocolate, moist texture, and… oh! red chili pepper. Let me have another of those.”
“All right, but you’ll have to earn the next one. Now, what’s this? Nuances of oyster shell, chlorophyll, menthol, white flowers, quinine and pineapple. A pure finish, which …mounts inexorably, and then lingers for a minute or more.”
“Oyster shell. That has to be a Chablis,” he said confidently. “A very suggestive Chablis. Are you making these up?”
“Of course not. It’s the 2008 Domaine François Raveneau Chablis Clos. Hmm. I can see that if I’m ever going to get you naked, I’ll have to move to the Advanced level. Meanwhile, here’s another bite of cake, and I’m going to hold a shot glass to your lips.”
She gave him a sip of single malt scotch. “Talisker,” he said triumphantly. “I’m waiting for the dirty talk. You can start any time now.”
“That’s a lot of sass from someone who’s forgetting he’s my student. The scotch was a reward, not a test question,” she said with asperity. “Item number three: Very aromatic bouquet of small ripe red fruits: cherry, raspberry, currant.” She lingered over the next sentence: “Beautiful flesh in the mouth… a delicious union of mingled tannins and fruits.”
He had to think about this one. “Beaujolais,” he finally said.
“A noble effort,” she replied, “but I’m afraid it’s Pinot Noir, the Bouchard Père & Fils Reserve 2008. Now take your shirt off. Not too fast. I want to enjoy this.” He was wearing chinos and one of his short sleeved cotton shirts, this time in a small red check pattern. He unbuttoned it and pulled it from the waist of his trousers (not belted, she noticed with satisfaction), and held it out.
“I’ll just fold this up for you. Did you bring a clean shirt in your gym bag for tomorrow? Good,” she said briskly. “Item number four: Creamy, rich, opulent and sophisticated. Oozes flavors of espresso, ripe cherry, cola and licorice. Extraordinarily generous in the mouth with a finish counted in long minutes.”
“A well-aged Barolo?” he asked. “Yes,” she said, impressed. “It’s the Sandrone 2004 Cannubi Boschis. James…do you have any idea how sexy you look with that silk blindfold, and no shirt, and that promising bulge in your trousers? Oh yes, that’s right where I’m looking now, and I’m thinking about what we’re going to do later.”
“We could move straight to the main festivities,” he said hopefully.
“Oh no. You have to finish your test. This one’s a bit different. Item number five: Chocolate notes and pepper flavor with a deep, full-bodied earthiness, giving way to creamy espresso on the finish.”
He shook his head doubtfully. “Cabernet Sauvignon?”
“No, it’s a cigar,” she answered. “Hah!”
“That’s a trick question. I want to appeal my mark.”
“I said we’d start with wine, remember? I never said they’d all be wines. Now, take your trousers off.”
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