So PK is round at our house again, eating every piece of food he can lay his hands on while his wife is away, and this gives us a chance to talk arrant nonsense about a bottle of Haut-Médoc (Château Liversan 2008) which he's brought round and about which he harbours reservations. Frankly, the stuff he has reservations about is between ten and fifteen times nicer than the stuff I have reservations about, including the bottle of Lidl Shiraz/CabernetSauvignon I have been keeping back specially in order to annoy him with, but still.
After a brief and embarassing drinking encounter with the Lidl red, in the course of which we pull faces like two men stumbling upon an open grave, it's down to the Liversan. This allows us to remark with telling sagacity that its nose and elegant structure are tragically compromised by a fatal lack of heft.
'It lacks heft,' I say.
'Yes, it lacks heft,' says PK. 'It's somehow short on weight.'
'It should be weighter, shouldn't it?'
'I would have thought it ought to have more heft. I mean, it's a 2008. It shouldn't be running out of steam this early.'
'In another five years?'
'There'll be nothing left.'
'In five years, it'll have faded to nothing.'
'Such a shame.'
'It needs more heft.'
'More power,' PK says, clutching at the air with his free hand.
'Do you always talk about wine like this?' asks my wife, not bothering to disguise her incredulity.
'Yes,' I say. 'Yes, I think we do.'
Having decided that the Liversan, like a sketch by Watteau, is charming but in danger of disappearing into nothingness, we have a go at an ordinary Médoc that I have accidentally acquired.
'It's more robust,' PK announces, looking around to see if there's any more food.
'But lacks complexity,' I announce back.
'Definitely not as complex.'
'Not such a well-made wine.'
'Short on finesse.'
'Entertaining enough, in its way.'
'But short on finesse.'
'Are you looking for the cheese?'
'I might be.'
'It's quite engaging in a robust sort of way.'
'I mean, it would do at a pinch.'
'Plenty of fruit in the nose.'
'Suprisingly fruity nose.'
'But not much finesse.'
My wife attempts to put a stop to this by simultaneously rolling her eyes and making coffee, while I am struck by a pang of regret for the Lidl Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, which I actually had hopes for in the way one might for an ugly but brave child. This is not least because the German Pinot Blanc I bought from Lidl at the same time turned out to be a bit of a baragin, nice floral notes, hint of caramel in the finish, a well-made white, I thought, for only £4.99, and I was hoping to repeat the trick with my foul Australian red. That, I told myself, will be a blow for the revolution, a grenade straight through the palace windows. I look at the bottle of Australian red, willing its contents to taste nicer.
'You don't fancy a bit more of the Australian?'
'God, no. What's this? Is this Grappa?'
'We can't start on that.' I don't want to die, here, to-night. 'It's horrible, anyway.'
'I'm so disappointed by that Liversan. I've got another bottle at home, as well.'
'How many did you buy?'
'It was a special offer.'
'That Australian red could have been a contender.'
'I don't think it's worth hanging on to, now.'
'Three ninety-nine. It's been open for a while. It might be worth another try.'
'It could have been very good. It very nearly is very good.'
'It didn't have to be good. It only had to be good enough to keep down.'
'Which was why it was on offer.'
'Now it's had a chance to breathe, I think it could work.'
'It's a pity.'
'It's a pity.'
We sit there, our silence only disturbed by the low hum of my wife's disapproval, and ponder our missed opportunities, as old men will do when they've had their hopes got up and nothing to show for it.