Thursday 28 March 2013

I've started – but will I finish?

How have I managed to end up with five half-finished bottles of wine dotted about my abode?

They are piling up, in the manner of half-read books, which might or might not get finished. Like half-used pots of paint, which might or might not get used. I haven’t finished the last one, but I’ve started a new one – in the way that one used to have an increasing stack of half-recorded VCR cassettes.

Pumped out beneath their Vac-U-Vin bungs, they sit around, slowly deteriorating, like their owner. And if I’m going to be spotted by Mrs K opening a sixth, I had better have a damned good explanation.

So let me explain.

Bottle One. This was the bog-standard bottle of red which I opened several days ago, to accompany an equally bog-standard supper. The description “bog-standard” is not necessarily critical; it simply means that I cooked it (not Mrs K), and for myself alone (not Mrs K), and so the cooking techniques employed are likely to be less sous-vide, more boil-in-bag. Nor are my “bog-standard” dishes likely to be found in most pairing notes, which seem more interested in ocelot and abalone than toad-in-the-hole. So a “bog-standard” bottle of red then, half of which nicely accompanied a solo supper.

Two. The bottle of white which I had to open the following night, because we were eating fish. Obviously I can’t expect our suppers to be dictated by the bottle of wine I happened to open the night before – can I? Our supper cuisine veers across the globe like the Olympic opening parade (“Iraq!...Ireland!…Israel!…Italy!…”) Yet some aspects of our household diet, like the relentless presence of varieties of green vegetables, remain as repetitive as a Steve Reich composition. If we similarly narrowed our diet down to variations on red meat alone, it would make my wine selection 50% easier. 

But no; like a recalcitrant schoolboy, I accept the need to rotate fish, fowl and indeed neither. The previous night’s red was put on hold, rather than smother a nice piece of hake beneath a duvet of Monastrell. So there’s now an unfinished bottle of white as well.

Three. This is the Shiraz which tasted so unbelievably foul that I couldn’t get beyond the first mouthful. Generously, I assume that it was corked or something, and not that there was a carcass in the fermentation plant. Having bought this bottle from Majestic, I of course have a second bottle of the stuff, being the only way of getting it at the reduced (ie proper) price. So I thought somehow that I would keep this one to see if the second was as bad. If it was, then I would take both of them back. But because the first bottle was so vile, I haven’t had the nerve to open and taste the second yet. So the first is just festering there, like gangrene in a bottle.

Four. This was the rather nice red I once planned to write about. The problem is, it was so nice that Mrs K and I between us polished off, ooh, three-quarters of the bottle – and a quarter of a bottle is nowhere near sufficient to go with a meal. Even if I bring it out with the line, “You’re not drinking tonight, are you?” – always a dangerous gambit – there won’t even be enough for me alone. There’s an argument that a small glass of really nice wine can  cause more mental anguish than half a bottle of bad.

So basically, bottle four is waiting in case I get round to writing about it, following an occasion on which I am drinking at home alone, and willing to settle for just one smallish glass of wine. Which isn’t really going to happen…

Five. This is half a bottle of dessert wine – because, with the best will in the world (and that was mine), the guests at my birthday dinner who were not driving and who were still drinking by the time of the dessert only consumed the other half a bottle of dessert wine between them. 

It would be preposterous to start drinking dessert wine each evening with the kind of plebian puddings which emerge from our freezer. Mrs K rarely eats desserts, so I am left alone with various paltry combinations of ice cream, yogurt, fruit and nuts; none of which remotely justify the quality, cost, or indeed the risk of a flooded suitcase, attached to a Pedro Ximenez I determinedly brought back in my luggage from Seville. So there it sits, awaiting another grand occasion with guests. By which time it will probably be undrinkable…

Six. This is the red I just opened to have with supper. Because bottle 1) is now so old, it’s better left for cooking; 2) is white, and is also now so old it’s better left for cooking; 3) is undrinkable; 4) doesn’t quite have enough in it for a meal; and 5) is only for grand desserts. 

Inevitably, we will only drink half of bottle 6. 

So tomorrow will find me plaintively wailing: why have I got six half-finished bottles of wine in my abode?



  1. I feel an article coming up about half bottles and their lack of availability, and the paltry selection of 500ml bottles now in supermarkets.

    In our house the half full bottle is unknown (for more than a few moments), is this cause for concern?

  2. My brother taught me a little trick that may or may not be of use to you: open a bottle and immediately decant half into a clean and empty 375ml bottle and fill to the brim to eliminate any trapped oxygen.

    Enjoy the open bottle and you should vastly reduce the oxidation of the other half which you've decanted, ready to be enjoyed a couple of days later. Really works!

    1. It's an interesting idea - but at the moment, I am at lest constrained by the number of Vac-U-Vin bungs I possess. If this works, I'm concerned that I may end up with even MORE unfinished half-bottles around the place.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.