Papa opens the 1961 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Marguerite Villa has given him for his birthday.
‘It’s a stunning wine,’ he says, nose deep in his glass.
‘Must have cost her a fair bit,’ Maman says. She brushes invisible crumbs from the tablecloth and returns to the kitchen. The smell of roast beef wafts into the dining room. ‘I suppose she can afford it.’ The door closes behind her.
Papa slams his notebook shut. The words “Tasting Notes” stand out in gold letters on the black leather cover. He gets up, empties my water in the potted azaleas on the sideboard and pours a little wine in my tumbler.
Maman comes back with a dish of eggs in aspic. ‘Don’t lean back in that chair, Christine. It will break.’
I wish it would. The tapestry seat she’s so proud of makes my thighs itch.
‘This is an exceptional bottle,’ Papa says.
The wine is such a deep ruby red it hides the Duralex motif at the bottom of my glass. I take a mouthful. Till now I’ve only had red wine diluted in lemonade or a sip of Champagne on special occasions.
The taste of ripe blackcurrants explodes in my mouth. It’s stronger than fruit though, more complicated. I close my eyes and swallow.
When I look at Papa again, he is smiling at me.