Thursday, 27 September 2018

Last of the Summer Wine

Before you ask, this week’s title has nothing to do with the fact that CJ and I are ageing codgers at whom people sometimes laugh. No, it’s all down to the perceptible turn in the weather. It’s time for the wardrobe to switch from cotton to wool, from short-sleeves to long. It’s time to turn from my cold breakfast of bircher muesli – oats painstakingly prepared each evening – to my hot breakfast of porridge – oats painstakingly prepared each morning. And it’s time for the last of the summer wine.

Does our taste really change with the seasons? Or is this simply another of my ridiculous self-imposed edicts, which mean that wine-drinking ends up somewhere between ritual and ridicule?

Because we do have a summer wine at Casa K. We discovered El Perro Verde in a restaurant in Barcelona, on a blisteringly hot day. It’s a Verdejo, from Rueda, fresh and crisp and zingy, all of that stuff people say wines should be in the summer, with a bit of grassiness and a touch of apple. We went back, and it was just as good a second time. And when I found it in Barcelona’s “most prestigious” wine merchant (because where else would I go?)  I brought two bottles home in my case, each enrobed for transport in a carrier bag and two of my dirty socks.

And it travelled! It was just as clean and refreshing and zingy at home. And it extended our summer experience by a couple of London suppers.

But Verdejo really is a summer wine, best drunk young and fresh. It tends to get a bit bland as it gets older, and loses its zing. And it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that zing (doo-wah doo-wah doo-wah doo-wah doo-wah).

This year, as we weren’t going to Barcelona, I dug around online, and found a Spanish wine specialist who would economically ship us a case. A bit more expensive than on even a prestigious Barcelona shelf, but less expensive than in a Barcelona restaurant. Twelve bottles duly arrived, packed in an enormously complicated folding cardboard case contraption. It took half an hour unfolding and dismantling before it could be recycled; but that was still preferable to each bottle being transported inside a carrier bag and two of somebody else’s dirty socks.

And that case has been our summer’s worth. Portioned out carefully for meals in the garden, for those light, spritely suppers that only work in the sun, for special occasions and largely just for the two of us, one of whom will inevitably say “Ah, Barcelona…”

With the weather turning, there are three bottles left. I can only hope that either some warm days come before the wine turns disappointing; or that the wine will stay zingy until some warm days come. Neither of which now feel terribly likely.

Is this just nonsense about the weather? What about drinking in climate-controlled restaurants, where the weather outside is irrelevant? Ah, but you’re now wearing autumn clothes. You haven’t had a dose of sunshine on your skin. You woke up to porridge, not muesli.

And to be honest, I’m now looking forward again to what David Williams, writing in The Observer,   describes as “the bear hugs of the heavy reds”. Oh, and the porridge. On a trip to Cornwall, I discovered the impossibly delicious luxury of porridge with clotted cream. My arteries are palpitating with anticipation…


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