I suppose all of us must sometimes feel, despite our desire for a glass of wine, that it’s just too much hard work to open a bottle, and pour its contents into a glass. Oh, the effort. Or perhaps all of one's wineglasses are dirty? Or broken? Or you’ve forgotten which way round a corkscrew turns? That must be when we reach with a sigh of relief for a serving of wine conveniently prepackaged in a sealed plastic goblet.
This concept once appeared on Dragon’s Den, a TV programme in which, for the uninitiated, business concepts are “pitched” to a panel of potential investors. The entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne said at the time: "This doesn't work as a selling item. People do not want to buy wine in plastic glasses like that. For that reason, I'm out."
But of course, he has been proved wrong. I could have told him that, depressingly, there are people out there who will buy wine in anything, from cardboard boxes to metal cans, from absurdly shaped and coloured bottles and faux carafes to CJ’s jerrycan. A plastic goblet seems positively civilised by comparison.
And despite the Dragons’ misgivings, this concept seems to be proving extremely successful with, the manufacturer’s website says, “picnickers, concertgoers and commuters.” I will take their word for the latter, as I haven’t myself seen anyone drinking wine on the 237 bus.
But it would seem to me, despite my opening remarks, that the market for sealed plastic goblets of wine is surely an outdoor one. Which was why I was surprised to see it on the supermarket shelves this week. Because here in London, it’s December, and it’s been bitterly cold – icicles hang by the wall, and Dick the shepherd blows his nail. (Heaven knows what Nail the shepherd blows.)
Yet Lord Sainsbury, in his infinite winter wisdom, piles these goblets high and sells ‘em, if not cheap, then at £2.49 apiece. And upon his informative little shelf-talker, he recommends that they are “Perfect with grilled steak or tomato-based pasta dishes”.
Now, those are not really outdoor dishes, are they, whether in chilly December or not. So they are clearly suggesting that one enjoys this product indoors at the moment, with one’s warming winter meals. So be it.
I can tell you from the outset, though, that having a plastic glass, with a label on its side, at your table for Sunday lunch, makes you feel a total prannock. (One of the offspring raises the glass, quizzically; Mrs K offers those emollient words,“It’s for the blog,” and they both sit back to watch with barely disguised amusement.)
Obviously you could try and emulate in your home the outdoor situations for which the goblet was presumably devised. You could perhaps picnic in the dining room, by sitting on the floor in an uncomfortable position, pairing your plastic glass with plastic cutlery, and forgetting several vital components of the meal.
You could emulate train commuters, by lurching about in your seat, overcrowding your dining area with newspapers, and having your companion push past you mid-meal to visit the lavatory.
Or you could resist going to the toilet at all, and turn on somebody else’s choice of music at inappropriate volume, while, every so often, your companion jumps on your foot. That’s the outdoor concert. Or is it the commuting…?
Anyway, the goblet initially is a little challenging. Opening it is rather like opening a pot of yoghurt, or a plastic flagon of milk. Like the milk, the problem comes with removing the very last bit of the foil lid, which jerks free and invariably causes the contents to slop out. Like the yogurt, one wonders whether it is socially acceptable to lick the lid.
I would like to describe the wine’s bouquet, but I can’t, because the glass is almost full, and so it is impossible to get your nose inside the glass without getting wine in your nostrils. Loath to share the fate of the Duke of Clarence, we shall have to forgo notes on the bouquet.
And the goblet is also somewhat uncomfortable in the mouth. In order for the lid to adhere, the rim of the goblet is flat, not rounded – again, like a yoghurt pot – which means that it catches on your upper lip as you drink. It is akin to drinking from a plastic flowerpot.
But astonishingly, the wine itself is actually drinkable. It’s a pretty bog-standard Shiraz – a bit light in weight, but with distinctive fruit and spice, and no evil catch in the throat. The plastic seems to have had no more discernible impact on the flavour than on beer in a plastic glass, or water from a plastic bottle. Frankly, I’ve drunk worse. And as the price of £2.49 a goblet actually works out at £9.99 a bottle, it ought to be drinkable.
There’s something to be said when the means of delivery is less palatable than the wine itself. Yes, I could have poured the wine into a proper glass. Equally, if there was any merit in serving wine at home in flat-rimmed plastic receptacles, I could have poured decent wine into a yogurt pot.
What to do now with my plastic goblet? It says on their website that the goblet is “in fact near unbreakable” which, as another offspring is fond of saying, sounds like a wager to me.
But on the base it says that you can “reuse” it. Their website seems devoid of suggestions, so if anyone has any ideas for reusing a plastic flat-rimmed goblet, I would be interested to hear them. In the meantime, enjoy your Christmas, although it may only involve this product if you are pursuing your festivities outdoors.
Or on a train.