“For every problem,” Maury said, raising his glass, “there is a solution.”
“Of, in this case, twelve percent ethanol,” I said. I was examining the bottle from which Maury had filled his glass. I did not recognize the winery. The label had a convoluted, tie-dyed-looking design. “Where did you get this?”
“A loot bag,” Maury said. “Some conference thing.” He swirled the wine and sniffed for a moment and winced slightly.
“When was the last conference you went to?” The label was cagey about the exact year the wine was made.
“Er… a few years ago. I happened on this while cleaning out a closet.” He held it up to the light. It appeared opaque.
“That’s pretty dark, even for Zinfandel.”
“Even for Coca-Cola.”
“I wonder if it could elute the rust from a nail.” Coke can supposedly do that – elute means ‘remove by dissolution’: something is adsorbed (coated) onto something else, an a solvent picks it up and takes it away, or else binds better to the surface and displaces it. From Latin e ‘away’ and luere, combining form of lavere ‘wash’.
“Well…” Maury shrugged. He took a large sip from the glass. For a split second he attempted to swish it in his mouth, but reflex took over and he did a perfect spit take: he blew an aerosol of the wine all over the front of his refrigerator. I stepped back automatically, but by good luck I was out of the spray cone anyway.
“Aghl,” Maury said as he emptied his glass into the sink and filled it with water. He swished some water in his mouth and spat it into the sink. And again. He turned to me. “I think that would elute the enamel from my teeth.”
“Which conference was it you got this at?”
“Um… that eludes me. It doesn’t seem to have been an elite event.”
“Well. You found a bottle of wine. At first you were elated, but you turn out to have been deluded.” I turned to look at his fridge. “And your refrigerator… may soon be denuded.” The wine, as it dripped down the front, appeared to be making streaks in the paint.
“Good grief, it is eluting enamel,” Maury said. He leaned closer to look, then grabbed a paper towel and started to wipe, which almost seemed to aggravate the damage.
“And epoxy,” I said. “Appliance paint.”
I looked at the effect on the fridge for a moment, then reached over and held up the wine bottle. “I think I know where they got their label design.”
“Cork that and set it someplace safe,” Maury said, still wiping. “I’m going to keep it. I’m all out of drain clearing fluid. …What, by the way, were the tasting notes on the back of the bottle?”
I looked at the bottle. A drip from Maury’s pouring of it had made its way down across the back label and obliterated the centre of it. I held it out to him. “I’m afraid it elutes description.”