Thursday, 14 December 2017

My Perfect Christmas For Less Than Fifty Quid

This week's style icon: The 2017 IKEA Catalogue

For me, Christmas is a time to be together with friends and family, throwing a charmingly imperfect dinner party or chanelling my inner Heston Blumental with a wooden spoon and a long, lazy lunch with family and friends, or whoever I love to share my world with, friends and family and neighbours, the people who matter most in my life, whatever's on the menu. That's why it's important to de-stress, whether I'm attempting to slice fugu fish with a wooden spoon or channelling my inner Damien Hirst with a packet of frozen peas, big time. For me, the perfect start to any meal is a bottle of Aldi's Asti Spumante, at £4.99 - fizzy, refreshing, above all £4.99. If I'm in the kitchen, chatting and laughing with friends, all night long, sometimes with neighbours and family, I want to be in a no-pressure affair that allows me to be a guest, too.

For the main course? Don't sweat it: cooking doesn't have to be a high-end, stress-filled get-together of neighbours and a turkey and some family and friends and sprouts. Instead, it can be what you want it to be - channelling your inner Oliver Reed with three bottles of Aldi Cambalala South African Pinotage at £3.89 a bottle, or experimenting with a trio of Kooliburra Australian Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignons, £3.99 a bottle. Above all, Christmas is where we get together to share a meal, tell stories and make plans about how we're going to get home afterwards. The tables and chairs are based on the style I like and the size I need (XXL), and make a great place for telling stories about friends and neighbours and bringing together a few key pieces - the wonderful everyday - that make my style all my own, whether I'm in the kitchen or not, throwing out the old rules or simply ditching my inhibitions in a style all my own or in a zinc bucket.

Of course, a bit of downtime, some personal space, is also good, especially when I've had about all the friends and family and neighbours I can stand. For me, a big table where I can spread out and go solo, channelling my inner Søren Kierkegaard, is a must. Here's where I can create, eat, read and make my own 'project table' out of a handful of boxes and a wooden spoon and above all, a bottle of Maynard's Ruby Reserve Port, £4.99 from Aldi, although it's only 20cl, but that's enough to get creative and blot out the memory of mostly family, maybe with some catch-up TV if I can get the telly to work, but why only 20cl? I should have bought two. Anyway, it's enough to savour the moment and be the person I want to be without compromising my inner Malcolm Lowry. Mistakes are merely lessons inside out, I tell myself as I attempt to create the space that inspires me and wonder where I put my personal happy space, because that's all that matters. Maybe I should look in the bucket.

Because after all, if I create an inviting space, it can make any moment feel like I'm on holiday, although God knows I've had some terrible holidays, but that's no reason not to share the expectation that everyone will have a great time when it comes to finishing up the turkey leftovers at about nine o'clock with a couple of bottles of Aldi Castellore Sicilian Pinot Grigio, £3.89, and a looming hangover. This at least is where I can be the star of my kitchen, whatever I'm in the mood for making - although mainly I'm in the mood for making my way up to bed, except the friends and family are still here, sharing stories about other members of the family who aren't here and failing to make everyday dining a rediscovered delight, so there's no way I can create the right mood for merry-making and instead have to make do with a cheese biscuit and a bit of dried-out Stilton given that the only rule is there are no rules and if adults need a private space to recharge and relax, where, precisely, is that? In my busy life, with work committments and social media, all I want is a 'me-time' moment to zone out, but what are the chances? I ask you? And is it wise to start on the Tomova Salted Caramel Vodka Liqueur (£9.99) that someone gave us, just to get over the hump? Would that be a perfect no-compromise compromise? Maybe I should ask the people who matter most in my life, although they're now watching Strictly, so how about the washing-up? That's something I've noticed about the wonderful everyday: the tidying up afterwards. It never ends.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

The SEDIMENT Xmas Wine Gift Marketplace

Here they are, the ideal Xmas gifts for wine lovers! 

Of course, our entertaining book is the best possible present for anyone who drinks wine – or, indeed, doesn’t. But whatever you do, don’t just buy wine lovers a bottle of wine, however much they might like it, oh no – not when there are these super Xmas wine-related gifts out there!

Wine Monkey
This sock-like, monkey-like woolly wine bottle cover will bring laughter and merriment to any dinner party. Just look at the happy faces of these dinner guests as Wine Monkey arrives at their table! They’re not arguing about Brexit any more! Conveniently disguises any embarrassingly cheap supermarket wine*. Keeps red wine tepid and white wine…tepid. *Not suitable for Mateus Rosé.

Upside down wine glass
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? Well, “bottoms up!” This looks as if it’s a regular wine glass – but upside down! Endlessly amusing! It’s all fun and games – just wait until someone stands it the other way up, and accidentally pours wine on to the sealed end, whence it cascades across tablecloth, guests’ laps etc! 

Wine Markers
Just as you’ve always wanted, your guests can now write on your wine glasses! Avoids those heated dining-table arguments over whose glass is whose. Will definitely not come off on to guests’ hands, napkins, shirt-cuffs etc.

Wonky wine glasses
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? Enjoy the distortion of a second bottle from your very first glass, with these wonky wine glasses! Tipsy – or what?? It’s all fun and games – just wait until you try and put them in the dishwasher!

Wine-scented candles
Save your friends the trouble of spilling their wine all over their carpet in order to scent their room! These candles not only “evoke the scent” of wines like Pinot Noir or, er, Mimosa – they smell like a specific vintage! And as a remarkable liver-relieving bonus, they evoke wine’s “soothing effect” too! Not included: matches, respirator.

Moustache corkscrew
For that brief moment of amusement as you hold it to your upper lip, and possibly go “haw-hee-haw”, followed by many happy years in a kitchen drawer. Guaranteed to last until the plastic moustache bit detaches itself from the thread. Not suitable for removing corks.

Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? If your oafish friends all drink beer, enjoy your wine in this clever wineglass/beer mug, and feel like one of the loutish crowd! It’s all fun and games, until you get beaten up.

Santa’s stocking flask
Don’t you wish you were at this party? Wine in plastic cups from a plastic bladder-like contraption, vaguely reminiscent of a Christmas stocking. Comes with an accompanying freshers guide to a non-Russell Group university. Warning: not a pinata

Wine storage box
Yes! Now you can store four bottles of wine, upright, in an old wooden box! Fit for any table! This genuinely French authentic Bordeaux storage box has travelled straight “from cave to table”, pausing only to translate the words on the side into English. Bottles sold separately.

Guzzler wine glass
Bored with drinking out of normal wine glasses? This glass jams into the neck and allows you to drink straight from the bottle, in a way that’s amusing rather than socially unacceptable! Laugh? You’ll wet yourself. Indeed, it’s all fun and games – just wait until the wine rushes into the glass, over your mouth and nose and down over your clothes! Choking hazard.

Cork shadow box
This is so much more than just a picture frame box with a hole through which you can poke your old corks. This is the ideal way of displaying your excessive consumption to visitors with a jumble of partially stained old corks. Relive those special occasions, when the corkscrew thread went just through the side of the cork! Comes with one (1) partially stained cork to start your collection. Not suitable for screwcaps


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Another Day, Another App

So I'm starting to think we must have reached a new phase in man's progress from the primordial slime to the stars when, still boggling over wotwine, I'm told about this: An Augmented Reality App which Will Bring Your Wine Bottle To Life. Actually, just writing it down makes me partly lose the will to live, but no, this is where the world is going, this is the kind of thing the millenials dig, so I mustn't be off-trend about it, I must embrace the now.

Which is? Look, it's easier if you just watch the video: this more or less explains how, if you buy a bottle of 19 Crimes Australian red - marketed by the all-conquering Treasury Wine Estates, a company that also handles Blossom Hill, Penfolds, Wolf Blass - then download the 19 Crimes app onto your phone and point that phone at the label of the bottle, the grizzled face depicted on the label will come to life on your phone and start bending your ear about the real-life crime he or she committed, or at least was convicted of, in the nineteenth century and which led to her or his transportation from England to Australia. For the sake of my children, I begged for mercy, says one; Forgive me for caring more about myself than the cause, announces another, with a sneer. Little faces! Talking at you!

A bit weird for the dinner-table? Well, yes, except that, as the website (that old thing) explains, 'For the rough-hewn prisoners who made it to shore, a new world awaited.
As pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This wine celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built.' In other words, it's all positive. You can even Connect with the gang and Join the banished if you're so absolutely parched for stimulation that joining a virtual society of deceased ex-cons who exist only to gimmick up an extremely small range of reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend and something called Dark Red) seems like a good idea. Why not? It's that or wasting the evening on a re-run of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, so you might as well.

And of course it's not so much the product itself, the 19 Crimes, which is significant, but what it represents. You can see it coming, like bad weather across a sound, a new dispensation in which wines of all sorts will talk to us, or play music, or host an impromptu quiz when they sense that the chit-chat round the table has got onto Donald Trump again, and what do you know? John XXII is looming out of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape bottle and asking us, in guttural Mediaeval French, how late the trains run because he has to get back to town? Or the bay on the front of your Oyster Bay starts making soothing lapping sounds, broken only by the bleating of sheep and foul-mouthed bucolic New Zealand banter from unseen shepherds and winemakers? Or raised voices are heard coming from the villa on the Chianti label and after a while you realise that it's you they're shouting about, and not in a friendly way either, particularly unnerving as you're drinking on your own and already regretting it? Or the cockerel on your Le Réveil starts crowing and will not shut up, not even when you stuff it in the recycling bin and heap empty soup cartons and bleach bottles on it?

And the wine? Wine is such a twentieth century thing. Do we really need to think about the wine? How does wine even fit into a world of constant intermediations from ongoing digital reference points? How do we find the time to drink a glassful before we have to share the experience with one or more digital platforms while the AI is toiling away in the background, cloudbasing our subjectivities into a worldpermeable interface which then allows someone from Abilene, Texas, to address us, mid-drink, live from the label on the wine bottle and suggest that maybe the tannins are a bit overdone? See, this is augmented reality and if anyone says that wine in and of itself is quite capable of augmenting reality, they haven't experienced either enough or the right kind of augmentation.

Next week, another reality, augmented to the point of no return: Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish