Thursday, 18 August 2016

The tragic diary of a modern red wine

I always felt I had been raised for great things. Not for me the indignity suffered by some of my relatives, eaten as gifts in hospital wards. No, I am to rise from the status of a humble grape to that of a noble red wine! Is it that prospect which is making me feel so light-headed? Or the 13% alcohol level I am now developing?


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I used to worry that I might be condemned to consumption at a beach barbeque. Imbibed in bikinis. Swigged in swimwear. But no; I may indeed have a future in sophisticated circles. It seems I am to be shipped abroad, and to England no less, the Old Country as I believe we used to call it, home of silver service and evening dress.

I spend the voyage in dreams of dinner parties. I see myself in a stylish decanter…



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I arrive at a place called Bristol. I had heard tell of this old port, with its traditional merchants and wine cellars going back hundreds of years. So the clattering and banging of a modern bottling plant came as something of a surprise. Still, at least I am being put into a bottle; others have been put into a bag-in-box, or even a sealed plastic goblet! And I am quite proud of the stylish labels which have been stuck to me; now I know that, despite feeling rather ordinary, I am actually vibrant, full-bodied and rich. Rich! And I am recommended to go with game! Imagine the household for which I must be destined!

I thought I would have my birthday on my label, but it seems not.

And I was looking forward to the gentle touch of cork upon me for years to come. But there has been some kind of mistake. My label clearly says Finest – and yet I have been given a screwcap.

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It seems I have become part of what they call a “mixed case”. I am now surrounded by eleven other wines. They come from South Africa, Chile, North America, all over the world, although a surprising number have also been through the bottling plant in Bristol. We all seem to get on alright; the rosé is said to be charming, and most of the whites are sweet, but some of the South American reds can be a bit aggressive. 

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Today was delivery day. I was so excited! Our van pulled up outside a house in London, and our driver carried us right to the door. Perhaps we would be taken to a rack, where we would rub shoulders with some of the grand old French bottles we have only heard about? (Then someone told me that Burgundies do not have shoulders to rub…)

Unfortunately, the door did not open. Where are the staff? 


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At last we are in the hands of our purchaser. One by one we are lifted from the case, and our labels examined in the light of a sunny day. The charming rosé got taken away immediately. Presumably the rest of us will now take our place in a cellar? I have heard of wines who get to “rest” and “lay down”, even though they have only come across the Channel!
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No. There is no laying down for us. We stand upright in our cardboard box, in a cupboard beneath stairs, alongside some old sports equipment and a vacuum cleaner. There is also a strange bottle of liqueur, who comes from "Duty Free", and has been here for a long time. Some of us feel it is too hot, but the liqueur says not to worry, we will not be here very long. Unlike him.

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I thought that I had done well to avoid the fate of a beach barbeque back home. Perhaps I would see the light again in a panelled dining room. Instead, I am on a counter-top in what appears to be a Magnet kitchen. I am not optimistic, because the Chianti beside me in the case sneered when it heard me being removed to accompany something called a “spag bol”.

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What? Down what hatch?
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PK

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