You know how it is. At the start of a dinner party, you’re obliged to give everyone an initial, equal portion of the really nice wine you’ve brought out especially for the occasion. But as the levels go down around the table, you notice that someone in the corner has hardly touched their glass. Perhaps they’re driving, perhaps they just don’t like powerful old clarets (there are, I am told, such people); but they politely accepted the first pour you offered, took one sip and drank no more.
And so, after the goodbyes have been said, and the arguments about Uber have subsided, you notice that there’s still a good portion sitting there on the table. A good portion, of a good wine.
So, what do you do? It seems almost blasphemous to pour it down the sink. Be honest; there’s a terrible temptation to drink it there and then, to help fuel the clearing up, and to ease the tense discussion about why on earth you had to bring up that particular subject over the cheese.
in our e-book, Wining & Dining, CJ was scathing about this bad habit. Writing about the process of clearing up after a dinner party, he insisted that “You will not finish up any of the dregs, not unless you are actually sixteen years old.”
But what if we're not talking about “dregs”; what if we're talking about more than half a glass, about significant remains? As Dylan almost said, you just kind of wasted my precious wine. So, what about pouring significant remains back into the bottle for consumption the following night?
I mean, waste not, want not and all that. Do it quickly, before anyone notices, and it becomes just leftover wine in the bottle, to be acceptably polished off next day. Does it matter that it has been on a circuitous route via someone’s glass?
Here’s my final one. Reusing last night’s wine glass. It’s a regular night, you’re off to bed and, because your wine glass doesn’t fit in the dishwasher, you put it to one side to wash up the next day. Then, next day, one thing leads to another, yet surprisingly none of them leads to the sink. When it comes to supper time, you have half a bottle of wine to finish off – and the previous night’s glass is still sitting there, unwashed.
It has a little red stain in the bottom of the glass. A smidge on the rim. A speck of sediment maybe. Slightly crusty. But, with a twinge of guilt, you go ahead and pour in tonight’s helping of last night’s wine.
It would take more than a rinse to clean the glass. And anyway, a rinse would get water into the wine. And…it’s the same wine.
Oh, you could go into some saving-the-world number about using less water. About the folly of firing up a boiler to wash a single glass. About the waste of detergent. About unnecessarily dirtying a second glass.
But it’s just as much about laziness – although given today’s political obsession with “hard-working people”, laziness is presumably no longer acceptable, let alone a domestic ambition.
Perhaps there’s a touch of nostalgia in all of this, for those student days when so many of our habits were bad. Like sniffing your socks before you put them on? Or, as Martin Amis wrote of the bachelor lifestyle, blowing your nose into a coffee filter?
And it could be worse. You could be swigging wine directly from the bottle. That would be a bad habit. No-one would do that.