Chapter 2: The Old Gothic Winery
There weren’t many pedestrians on Skyfire Avenue, because this was a place where one had to be qualified to be here. It wasn’t just a matter of money. It was also a matter of taste.
Only after one passed through seventeen linked evaluations would one receive the Skyfire Badge. But of course, it would cost money as well. The reason was: ‘Skyfire Avenue Public Maintenance Fund’.
Lan Jue walked out of Zeus, his face returning to its normal, faint smile. The events in the shop apparently hadn’t impacted him at all.
He walked to the opposite side of Skyfire Avenue. There was an ancient, French-style gothic building there.
Tall, sharp towers, arched doorways, stained glass windows depicting stories from the Holy Bible, gothic arches, flying buttresses, slender columns…they produced a light yet lofty sensation, as though one was flying in the sky. The framework provided the entire structure with abundant support and strength, with the directly rising lines contributing to a grandiose and spacious appearance.
Compared to Lan Jue’s Zeus Jewelry Store, this Gothic structure was like a leviathan. In the entire Skyfire Avenue, in fact, it was the most arresting sight.
Pushing open the door and going inside, Lan Jue rubbed some of the stubble on his face. He couldn’t help but let out a hint of a bitter smile. He was about to be criticized again by that strict fellow.
“Jewel Master, you came.” A tall, slender, beautiful young lady, with long golden hair, dressed in an ancient French full-length court dress, came to welcome him. She gave Lan Jue an absolutely proper French curtsey.
Lan Jue nodded at her slightly. “Eva [Yi’wa], hello. Is the Wine Master here yet?”
Eva smiled slightly, displaying those eight pearly white teeth. “He’s here. The Gourmet and the Coffee Master are here as well.”
“Oh?” A hint of surprised delight flashed past Lan Jue’s eyes. “The Gourmet is here as well? That’s wonderful.”
Eva smiled. “I’ll bring you there.”
A luxurious, long French palace table that could easily seat twenty for dinner. Several people were seated next to it. In the head seat, there was an old man who seemed to be in his fifties or sixties. He was dressed in an exquisite French suit, with a wig on his head. He sat there, upright yet graceful, his face very solemn.
On each side of him, there were two others seated as well. One was tall and thin, dressed in a white shirt and a black vest. His short hair was exquisitely done. He was around forty or so, and there was a gentle smile on his face.
The other person was around thirty-five, of ordinary stature. He wore a white suit, and his long golden hair was perfectly brushed, falling from both sides of his temples to his shoulders, dazzling to behold. His eyebrows were quite thick, and his eyes were very large, but in his eyes there was an undisguised hint of laughter, making him look a bit ‘naughty’.
Three men were seated on the other side of the table. An old man, a middle-aged man, and a youngster.
Compared to the three people in the host’s seats, they seemed to be slightly uneasy.
“Hey, is it the evaluation time again today?” Led by the young lady, Eva, Lan Jue arrived at that long table. He pulled a chair next to the man in the white suit.
“Jewel Master, you didn’t shave or comb your hair.” The old man in the head seat said with a frown.
Lan Jue slapped his forehead. “I knew you’d say that. Fine, I’m at fault. Even though I just came because I wanted to show that I’m making changes, and wanted to draw a bit closer to you old fogeys.”
The Wine Master said coldly, “If you are at fault, then you need to accept the punishment. You understand our rules.”
The man in the white suit next to Lan Jue lowered his head, and said in a very ‘cool’ manner, “Support.”
Lan Jue glanced at him sideways, then looked at the Wine Master. “What’s for dinner?”
The lips of the man in the white suit trembled. In the end, he couldn’t refrain from laughing.
The Wine Master laughed as well. “We can talk about what we’ll eat later. Since you are at fault, then you’ll handle the interviews for the next few people. You are more skilled in this regard than I am.”
Lan Jue shook his head. “No. That’ll cost me too much brain power.”
One of the seventeen evaluations in order to be admitted into Skyfire Avenue: Wine.
The Wine Master said, “If the results of your interview are satisfactory to me, tonight’s wine will be on me.”
“Done.” Lan Jue said.
The man in the white suit pursed his lips. “Can’t you be a bit more reserved?”
Lan Jue said calmly, “Then don’t drink.”
The youngster dressed in a black vest on the other side of the man in the white suit spoke for the first time. “Support.”
The man in the white suit said unhappily, “Gourmet, why are you always on his side?”
Gourmet said, “Because he has more taste than you.”
The Wine Master, in the head seat, nodded as well. “He does.”
Lan Jue cast his gaze towards the front. “The three of you, let’s begin. First one.” To him, the opportunity to sample fine wine was something he definitely didn’t want to delay if at all possible.
The face of the old man seated in the first position immediately grew solemn. “Please ask.”
Lan Jue said, “This is the Old Gothic Winery. Do you know where the wine from here comes from?”
The old man clearly had prepared early on. He immediately responded, “The Old Gothic Winery was one of the very first businesses opened on Skyfire Avenue when it was first developed. It engages in the sale of fine wine from various former nations of the previous era. These wines are preserved through spatial technology and can essentially be preserved in the state they were originally in year 2020. Actually, the most valuable thing about them is that once a bottle is drank, a bottle will be gone forever. Thus, the price is extremely high, but the ability to enjoy and sample these ancient wines is the mark of a true noble.”
Lan Jue neither assented nor disputed. He continued, “What is your favorite type of red wine?”
The old man spoke with seemingly great fluency. “Chateau Lafite. An ancient French wine from 1855, from one of the five first class Chatueaus in the Medoc, the Left Bank of the Bordeaux region.”
Lan Jue asked, “If the seven of us were to share a bottle of Lafite today, and you were the host, what would you do? Please explain in detail.”
The old man said, “I would carefully open it, then pour out a tiny bit, look at its color, smell its aroma, then taste it. After verifying that it hadn’t gone bad yet, I would them divide it amongst everyone, so that we can all enjoy this bottle of fine wine.”
“You can leave now.” Lan Jue leaned back against the back of the chair and said calmly.
“I passed?” A look of surprised delight was on the old man’s face.
Lan Jue shook his head. “No. You’ve been eliminated.”
The old man said with surprise, “Why? I didn’t say anything wrong?”
Lan Jue frowned as he spoke. “You’ve just prepared in advance. You don’t actually like wine, nor do you know how to drink. If a bottle of ancient Lafite wine were to be drunk in the manner you described, that would be an absolute waste.”
“Lafite, no matter what year it is from, is stored in a horizontal state. Before drinking it, the very first thing to do is to put it upright and keep it in the wine cellar for three days, allowing it to settle. When opening it, you do indeed have to first test the time, but it isn’t just to test for whether the wine has gone bad or not. The more important thing is to determine the status of the wine through tasting it, and determine how long it needs to be decanted for. One of the most important things for connoisseurs of wine is the question of how long the wine needs to be decanted. A normal bottle of Lafite would need to be poured into the decanter to be decanted for at least two hours. Otherwise, it wouldn’t taste much better than vinegar. It needs time to release its aroma. If you don’t even know that, you clearly don’t know how to drink wine. In fact, you’ve never even drank any fine wine. Thus, stop wasting my time.”
Unwilling to accept this, the old man said, “But the books all say…”
Lan Jue quirked his lips. “The people who wrote about Lafite in your books had never tasted it before. They just were writing based on what they had heard. To immediately uncork a bottle of Lafite and drink it is a form of disrespect to it. To drink it like that, you might as well dump it into a humidifier instead.”