The festival was a two-day event on the outskirts of Tuscany. The organisers had kept it on a weekend to get maximum attendance and make the festival a success. There was wine tasting, a talk on wine appreciation, a wine cooking show, games based on blindfolded wine tasting and a lot more.
The judges came by their stall, tasted the varietals and one of them said ‘Interessante’ when he gurgled their Chenin Blanc….one that they had worked on so much and were extremely proud of.
The time of the result announcements came. Her heart was beating fast. He was still insensitively busy clicking snaps. Though inside his heart, he was extremely anxious. But egoistic that he was, he would never show. Alberto was standing with her waiting with just as much anxiety. After all this was his baby too.
The judges discussed among themselves who should announce the results. Then one of them came up on stage. It was the same person who’d said ‘Interessante’ to their Chenin Blanc. Her heart began beating like a racehorse’s and she was sure everyone could hear it over the noise the crowd was making.
‘The first prize goes to La Montina for their brilliant Franciacorta Brut 2007.’
Everyone clapped. There was loud cheering as someone from La Montina came up on the stage to receive the prize money and a trophy. Her heart skipped a beat. She felt a hand on her shoulder and to her surprise it was he. He’d stopped clicking pictures and had been looking at her expression for a while now, unknown to her. ‘We’re going to win. Rest assured.’, he said, a certain confidence in his voice.
‘The second prize goes to Ca’ Marcanca for their superb Bolgheri Camarcanda 2008.’
Again there was a loud uproar. She looked at him with almost in tears. He soothed her by holding her close. ‘It’s the last prize now’, she whispered almost inaudibly. ‘And we are going to win’, he whispered back. Even amidst that incredible moment of sheer tension, he was able to make her smile broadly.
‘And this year we have no third prize’. Her heart sank. Her head stooped. He was just looking at the judge in shock.
‘This year,’ the judge went on ‘we have a new category altogether. The prize for the most innovative, creative and different wine goes to iL Caro for their most interesting Chenin Blanc.’
She looked up as if lightning had struck near her. She looked at him with her big round eyes in amazement. He just looked right back into them and said ‘Yes. We did it sweetheart.’
‘Will the lady in the pink blouse and black skirt please step up on stage?’ said the judge looking directly at her. She felt all eyes moving towards her. Every single vinery owner, every single guest, every media person had their eyeballs focused on her. ‘Time to be strong’, he whispered into her ear.
With a big breath, she took his hand in her right hand and Alberto’s in her left hand and began walking towards the stage. Amidst claps she could feel her heart racing like never before. But she was not afraid. She was not reluctant. Today was their day. Today was her day. Today was his day.
They went up on stage and she accepted the trophy and prize money.
The judge handed her the mic and said ‘Ma’am a few words please’.
A small tear escaped her left eye. Almost chocked with emotion she pointed to Alberto and said ‘Thanks for saving my life’. Alberto smiled. He was on top of the world as well. His wine had made it big. She then looked at him and said, ‘ Thanks for teaching me how to breathe’. He looked at her, tears in his eyes. ‘I love you’, he said.
Then he took her in his arms and they kissed for what seemed like an eternity.