It’s the Saturday after Christmas. You get off the subway at Vernon Jackson Avenue. The streets are empty. Everyone you know is away.
You want a glass of wine before going home.
You see a neon sign. ‘Wine Bar’ above a black awning. You open the door. Ain’t no simple wine bar, babe. It’s Domaine Bar A Vins, but you won’t know that until you step inside.
Bordello like lighting with white Christmas lights running length of bar. Red lights above piano in back corner. Something like a strobe light twirls near a ceiling fan. Red, white and green light flashes bounce off the walls. Ten seats at a zinc bar. Seven tables along the walls. Wooden blinds on the front windows.
The music is crisp and loud. You ask whose playing. “Isaac Hayes,” replies the barkeep. French accent. Brown PorkPie Hat. Muscular arms. He brings over the wine menu and a candle. Bevy of topflight red wines. Excellent selection of white wines. Sparkling wines and Champagnes. Port and Sweet Wines. Imported beers and one beer on tap. A small menu that includes cheese, oysters, sliced meats and Pate de Campagna.
But, you’re not in the mood for food.
Isaac Hayes gives way to young Stevie Wonder.
Three people sit to your left. A guy with a woman on both sides of him. Stevie starts singing and everyone’s happy
You order a glass of Malbec. Domaine Basquet, 2015. ($11.00) Deep red color. First sip is lush. Sends you right to Stevie’s voice. You break down the wine. You think berries. It’s got a richness and a scent that’s almost like lavender, but some might argue otherwise.
Half way into the Malbec one of the women gets up to use the bathroom. The other woman doesn’t waste a moment. She puts her arms around the guy and pulls him close. Gold medal PDA. It grinds to a halt when the women comes out of the bathroom.
But here’s the funny thing:
The woman with her hands on the man’s shoulders turns to her friend and says: “I want to be able to send out a group text…We’re getting married in an hour. Anyone that wants to come can come.”
Nobody says a word.
Gilberto Gil takes over for Stevie Wonder. The barkeep pours a second glass of Malbec.
It’s a farewell party, of sorts.
One of the women is splitting for St. Louis. The other is making wedding plans. The guy lifts his glass of Prosecco. He stares at the piano and that’s when the glass of Malbec at Domaine Bar A Vins becomes a memory burn.
You watch him walk over to the piano bench. He rolls up his sleeves and flexes his fingers. Just before his fingers hit the ivory his fiance shouts: “Please no Billy Joel. Please no Billy Joel.”
First note in you realize the guy’s got talent and shouldn’t have passed up Julliard to crunch numbers. By the time he hits his first chord you know exactly what’s on his mind.
And yes, you’re of the same state of mind.
Domaine Bar A Vins
50-04 Vernon Blvd.
Long Island City, NY 11101
Subway: 7 Train to Vernon Jackson
(One stop from Grand Central Station)