These wines – they do like to try and dictate their terms and conditions, don’t they? We’ve been told to drink wines with particular foods; and instructed to drink wines with particular events, like barbeques or celebrations. Now, an encounter with a wine to drink with particular people.
Returning from holiday, a supermarket trip was required, in order to replace the fridge’s impressive accrual of fur balls and petri dish cultures. I had previously remained as oblivious as Mr Sainsbury no doubt intended to his offering of Mondelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at its absurd original price of £7.99 – but here it was, triumphantly offered at a £3.99 reduction to just £4.
Now, unlike CJ – a living example of the triumph of hope over experience – I do not have high expectations for a £4 wine. £4 a glass possibly – £4 a bottle, no.
But what intrigued me into purchase was the message on the back label: “Perfect served with good friends…”.
Let’s not waste time attempting to distinguish between “friends” and “good friends”. I do, however, recall a Cambridge chap of whom it was said that he treated everyone as if they were his oldest friend – which was all very well, unless you were his oldest friend.
What intrigues me is whether the notion of a wine to serve with “good friends” is intended to raise expectations – or to lower them.
What exactly am I supposed to be doing with these “good friends”? Well, further clues are offered on the back label, presumably for those of us who don’t know how to entertain our friends. I’m to be serving them “pizza, hearty pasta dishes and hard cheeses”. Not the kind of evening for which I’ll be polishing the silver, then. Sorry, friends.
And clearly therefore not an evening designed to flatter or impress one’s guests. Not the occasion for a prospective employer, say, or father-in-law. So by which logic would I inflict this wine upon my “good friends”?
Is it that my “good friends” will accept a pizza and some £4 vino, because I don’t have to impress them; because they accept me, as the saying has it, warts and all? (We’ll see about that, when I remove my socks at the dinner table to discuss my verrucas…)
Is it that, while pets cower and neighbours complain about the volume, the banter and bonhomie between us should be so entertaining that we’re all rendered oblivious to the quality of the wine?
Or, since the label describes it as “easy drinking”, and the volume that can be consumed at only £4 a bottle so enormous, that never mind distinguishing good wine from bad, my “good friends” will be incapable of distinguishing night from day?
In point of fact, this is far from easy drinking; it was actually a considerable challenge, from its ominously bruise-like colour onwards. It may at some point have had a passing relationship with a grape, but its insipid flavour is swept away on an fierce, industrial blast of alcohol, leaving just an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste. Mrs K observed that this was the first wine she had ever seen me pour back into the bottle; a comment, I feel, potentially as critical of myself as the wine.
So let’s get this Mondelli proposition straight. I’m inviting our “good friends” around. So I get in a pizza, some hard cheese, and some really acrid, cheap wine, that leaves my guests feeling they’ve inhaled CS gas. And tonight we’ll merry be.
Well, if only so that Mrs K and I can maintain something of our social circle, may I declare that I am completely unconvinced by this notion of provision to one’s “good friends”. Or even to those ranked above the dizzy social heights of our “casual acquaintances”. Frankly, I wouldn’t serve this wine to even random visitors like meter readers.
It’s been stored (see picture) where it belongs. Rest easy, good friends.