I wish that bulb would quit flickering, so you could appreciate this color. Blood red, almost gruesome, sparks of bright ruby clarity. The legs are gone now, but can you imagine what they must have been like? Legs for days.
1973 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, my friend. Côte de Nuits. I can't tell you what I dropped on this wine. Okay, what the hell: $17,550 at Christie's. My wife was furious. But we won't talk about her now, my wife. What's done is done.
Just smell for now, okay? Dark berries, orange peel—actually, kumquat—animal notes, leather. It should really breathe in the glass a bit longer.
No, you're right, go ahead and sip. What are we waiting for, the end of the world?
Ahhh, I'm tingling.
Roll it on your tongue. Now suck air through the liquid, so it burbles—no, like this.
What's with this boyscout uniform you're wearing? Right, the UPS guy. Well then, deliver me a bottle from the top of that rack.
That, my friend, is the 1970 Ridge Monte Bello, the California wine that put France on its ear. You don't even know what that means, do you? This wine brought down the citadel.
Un-irrigated crops live—or, yes, die!—at the mercy of the elements. Drought drags them to the brink of ruin; then a deluge bounces them back. Stress enriches grapes with terroir—earth's essence borne into the glass, the turning seasons preserved.
Why not irrigate, you might ask. Because irrigation is for pussies. Only grapes that must fight for survival reach their full potential.
Water? I forbid you from uttering that word in my cellar. It's an insult. Just enjoy the damn wine, would you?
I'm going to confess something to you, in this, my hour of reckoning. Promise you won't tell anyone (not that there's anyone left). I think the Screaming Eagle's overrated. I know I'm flying in the face of convention here, but frankly I don't give a rat's ass about Robert Parker's rating.
Here, open the Château Lafite instead. I love how casual I sound when I say that.
We can't go back to whites. Not tonight. Maybe never.
Gone are languid afternoons beneath the Burgundian sun. Berry-hued lips will never again smile seductively as they brush the rim of the glass, sweet Sauternes sliding like liquid gold into a mouth you have kissed a thousand times yet burn to kiss again.
Jesus, would you stop crying?
Oh, what the hell. Let's not stand on formality. I've always said degustation should be fun, not stuffy, and I guess if you want another go at the Sauternes before the undead destroy our barricade, I'm not going to stop you.
Just get a fresh glass.
Do I have food? Do I have food!
You'll be thrilled to know I grabbed a lobe of foie gras from the kitchen while you were holding off the horde.
I'll never forget, we bought this foie at a tiny farm near Alsace. Customs only allowed five pounds per, so Gail and I duct-taped another three pounds each around our bellies, and smuggled it in, looking like your typical fat Americans.
Of course, that was before they wouldn't let you on a plane without X-raying your spleen.
When La Folie took foie off the menu, I cried. I'm not kidding. I'd kill those PETA fucks now if they weren't already dead. Or undead, as it were. Ha-ha.
Wild geese overfeed themselves intentionally in preparation for winter—did you know that? That's why they have no gag reflex. So foie producers inject squirts of food down their throats, big deal. These geese don't have to scavenge. They don't even have to move! Happiest fucking geese in the world!
I'm glad you brought us back to the Sauternes, my friend. Perfect pairing.
You know how to work one of those Coleman things? Great. Lucky we kept it all these years. We need a nice, high flame. You want to sear the foie just enough to lock in the juices. Oh, smell that…I just got an erection.
That's it! That's it! Don't overdo it, you ass.
Always thought I'd drink this bottle with my wife on our Fiftieth. Oh, Gail…honey, forgive me for bashing your brain with your Manolo Blahnik. I should've let you eat me. Gail, my love...
Let's hit the Château Mouton Rothschild next.
They must smell the foie.
Would you sit down, you're making me nervous. Come, have another splash of the Rothschild. Oh...my...God. No, it's just pure ecstasy. I'm having a moment. Fuck, of course I hear them! I'm not deaf. They're coming to get you, Baaarbaraaa. They. Are. Coming.
Exactly what do you suppose you're doing? Unless you're Martha fucking Stewart, a curtain rod will do you no good.
Are you listening to me, you fucking wastrel? I intend to relish every swallow of my last meal, every dribble of wine.
I ask only that the sponge-brain who sinks his teeth into my stomach pause to notice the well-greased richness; that his fish-milk eyes roll with pleasure as the Oriental silk of real Alsacian foie glides over his rotted tongue. Let him become lavishly drunk upon the wine coursing through my blood! Let him suck my digestive juices from his decrepit fingers! I shall make the undead live! Let them rage amongst themselves. Let them tear each other apart over the choicest morsels of my succulent flesh. Bon appetit.
BIO: Alia Volz’s stories and essays are found in Tin House Magazine (forthcoming), The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, Defenestration, Nerve, and The Writing Disorder’s “Best Nonfiction of 2012” anthology. She received a 2014 SF Weekly award for "Best Writers without a Book in San Francisco." To render that dubious honor moot, she recently completed her first novel, a mean little cowboy noir in which all of your favorite characters die. All my best,