First Blush

“Dad, may I have a taste of your wine?”

I look up to see her blue eyes casting down on me, head cocked and a wide smile across her face. Her right arm is slung over my neck. She tilts on her hips, balancing her weight on one leg. Her fingers scratch my neck coyly.

I take a moment to adjust. I’ve been absorbed on the web. It takes me a moment to process her words and shift back to Daddy mode.

We’ve always allowed the kids to taste our wine. It’s a theory we embrace. If they’re allowed to enjoy the beauty of wine when they’re young, it won’t be taboo, and they’ll be less likely to binge and overdo it when they get older. It’s untested, but it’s our philosophy. Luc can’t stand the taste of wine. Jordan has always loved it. LOVED it. She loves it so much that when she began chemotherapy we actually asked the doctor if it was ok for her to have a taste here and there. Her doc is a Brit, with a liberal mind, and he told her he thought it would be smashing for her to have a nip here and there.

I have just poured myself a glass of the Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a young wine, but big, bold and sultry. I’ve only had my first sip, but I can tell it’s going to be a warm afternoon.

“Yes, Jordan, you may have a sip. But you have to smell it first.”

She picks up the glass, swirls the liquid like we’ve taught her. She holds it to the light and with great pretense exclaims, “the color is like red roses.” I’m not sure she’s actually taken the time to make that observation. She’s fond of making sweeping statements when she tastes. I stop her and ask her to look at it a little closer. What color in her crayon box does it remind her of?

“Well … it looks a little purple,” she says.

I nod and she swirls the wine some more. Then she puts her nose in the glass to give it a sniff. But she rushes this step, too – and jumps into more poetry.

“Oh, Dad. This smells like a beautiful flower. Like a lovely, bloomy rose.”

Again, I push back on her palette.

“Does it smell like a rose,” I ask. “Are you sure? Smell it again.”

This time she shoves her nose in the glass for a few seconds and inhales loudly. She closes her eyes and then gives me her assessment.

“It smells like a great morning. Like when you make us pancakes and we listen to Ella.”

I chuckle and tell her she’s a poet. Then I ask her to think of smells she knows. Does this smell like cinnamon? How about vanilla? Her fingers tap my shoulder as she thinks about each. Then she takes another sniff and then a generous sip.

I watch her adoringly. She closes her eyes again. The corners of her mouth turn upward as she enjoys the bouquet of the wine. Jeanette has told me that Jordan always volunteers to take the wine at communion at church. She never takes baby sips. The girl likes wine. But she’s always judicious. This isn’t a joyride. It’s something she savors. She rarely asks for more. One sip is enough. But that sip makes her so happy. Her eyes peek open and she gives me her analysis.

“That is a good wine, Dad. It tastes like berries … berries with chocolate.”

I prod her on.

“Are they strawberries, blackberries or blueberries.”

“Silly Dad. You know I don’t like blueberries.”

“Then what did you taste?”


“Bitter strawberries or sweet strawberries.”

“A little bitter. But it was good.”

“I know.”

She leans over and kisses me on the cheek.

“I didn’t give you sugar yet today,” she charms.

Then she scurries off, skipping awkwardly with her turned-in gait. Her terry cloth sundress flutters about her knees and clings to them like the wisps of a dandelion in the wind as she chassés to her room. I watch as she disappears. It’s my turn to drink. I smell the nose again. And I think to myself, “it does smell like those breakfasts together. It does remind me of a brilliant morning. I can actually hear Ella Fitzgerald.” I sip again and close my own eyes, and I think of my girl. What a vision! What a pairing!