Sunday 7 August 2011

Drinking On A Boat - Brightwell Vineyard Oxford Rosé

Drinking On A Boat - Brightwell Vineyard Oxford Rosé

I'm on this sailboat, with the wife, grimly amusing myself off the south coast of England, and if there is one thing you think about when you're sailing and you're not absolutely certain you like sailing, then that thing is drink. But if you do not have a fifty-foot yacht with a really nice fridge and a gimballed wine rack, any drink you bring on board an elderly thirty-six-footer (to take a case in point) is going to get hurled around like medicine in a bottle, to say nothing of assuming that spectral haze of diesel which attaches itself to anything kept below decks for more than a day.

And it calls for specialist knowledge to introduce a nice bottle of wine onto the boat and expect it to remain in good order for more than half an hour: a knowledge I do not have. Instead, whenever I go aboard, I poke around the various lockers to see what other people might have left behind in my absence, or go through the supermarket bags we have brought with us, in the hope that, even though I know I forgot to bring any wine with me, my memory might be faulty and, yes! Here's that bottle of indestructible Londis Red Burgundy my subconscious successfully gave house room to all those hours ago!

So I go through this pantomime, like a child. This time, though, I find a bottle of Finca Labarca Rioja rolling around in a locker under the settee, which comes as a complete surprise to me, especially as it has a cork and a nicely prissy label. I cannot have bought it myself. Nor can I have bought the Brightwell Vineyard Oxford Rosé hiding in the partitioned booze holder in the centre of the saloon table. This turns out to be English and I believe that I've only ever drunk  an English wine once in my entire life, a kind of fizzy white from Herefordshire, not unpleasant, mildly cleansing in fact, the way I imagine a glass of Optrex might taste with some gas bubbles in it. I look at the Brightwell Vineyard Rosé doubtfully.

The fact is that on a boat you need beer for fine weather, and spirits for everything else, all the time. Cheap whisky is good (Tesco's, bought by the Magnum) with a back-up of Calvados to administer that final blow to the head at the end of the day. All three drinks can take hours, months, of physical punishment and bilge water, and come up tasting fresh enough to take away the raw existential terror of sailing. Sometimes they even taste better for being a bit salty.

And what do you know, the Finca Labarca Rioja has had it, and (even though I polish the whole bottle off with glowering determination) tastes too much of things like stamp adhesive and shoe polish to be much fun.

But the Brightwell Vineyard Oxford Rosé! I don't know who these people are, but after I've given the Rosé some time in the boat's doughty old fridge, out comes this nicely-blushing stuff, robust enough to withstand the aggressive neglect that happens in sailing, tasty enough to inspire nods towards appley and somehow vanilla and with a very tidy way of applying itself to the dead centre of the tongue before disappearing down the back of the throat without any of the whoofs and barfs that other rosés have a way of surprising you with.

And English too! I mean, given the thick-wittedness of most yachties, you can't be seen to be drinking rosé at any time, on account of effeminacy; but if you told them it was British, well, then, sentimental bigotry would take over and you'd be allowed to carry on. Who'd have thought it?


The subject of wine and sailing, and the effeminacy or otherwise of rosé wine, now seems to be up for discussion amongst hardcore yachties and others at the Scuttlebutt Forum of Yachting World


  1. I wouldn't drink a rose because it's effeminate and I'm a yachtie; I wouldn't drink another rose, period. I've never had a rose that was any good at all. I happen to be a fan of the moderately priced reds and whites, preferring beer over wine, the choice of most yachties, I think. Although the reds and whites are tolerable and are quite good given the right occasion and circumstance, they are known to produce profound hangovers if indulged to excess, so I usually steer clear of any possibility of that happening. In short, rose is not even in my vocabulary and I dare say probably not in any yachties either.

  2. Speaking of boats... I can't wait to go on my cruise come march, and hopefully the weather will be nice and warm! Cheers!
    -Jackie @ Sediment Control


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