The sign at the LCBO, Liquor Control Board of Ontario, said, "Sale." I am always attracted to that. I never, and I mean never, buy a wine that is not on sale. Hey, I'm retired. Truth be told, I often use a box cutter rather than a cork screw to get at my wine.
It was a small bottle of 2007 Anvers Fortified Shiraz from Australia that caught my eye. I like Shiraz — but I was not sure about the fortified kind. Sometimes fortified wines taste more of alcohol than grapes, not good. But, I picked up the bottle and read the label: "The exotic perfume, spice and blackberry flavours will develop great complexity with careful cellaring over the next 20 years."
I translated that to mean that the alcohol and grapes would get to know each other very well given two decades of co-habitation. The alcohol would give up its individuality and cooperate with the grapes to produce a rich and coherent presentation. For this to occur all that was required was time — lots of it.
I had an idea. I felt inspired. I bought the wine.
Once home I did my customary Internet search. A site associated with the LCBO had this to say about the 2007 Anvers Fortified Shiraz: "This delicious fortified Shiraz displays rich and concentrated flavours (imagine the fruit-sweetness and flavours of Shiraz magnified a few times) with a slightly viscous texture. Sip it alone after dinner or enjoy it with fruit cake or briny blue cheese." Rod Phillips gave it four stars and agreed that it could be cellared, but it could be opened now, no problem. Perfect!
I'm 62. My father died from a heart condition, as did my mother, plus many of my uncles, my father's brothers. I have had open heart surgery. O.K., it was a failed mitral valve but it was a heart problem. My grandfather and one uncle died from cancer. Using most life expectancy calculators, I am good until about 79. After that I'm on borrowed time.
Often heart problems, and always cancer, give us a warning they are stalking us. When I get the word, "Ken you have an incurable heart problem," I'm ready. I'll head home, stopping off for some nice cheese and fine bread. I'll set the table, put out wine glasses for my wife and me, and open my bottle of Anvers. I will toast my wife good-bye and tell her how much I have enjoyed our years together. We'll sip our wine and share a grape-nectar flavoured kiss.
If I don't get the word, we'll open the bottle on my 79th birthday, nibble fine cheese, enjoy some black, nicoise olives — they always go well with Shiraz and remind us of our time in Provence, in the south of France. We'll blow the dust off our copy of Bergman's The Seventh Seal, cuddle up, and have a toast celebrating life.