Thursday 9 August 2012

Harmonische Rotwein - Lidl Bordeaux

So the old itch returns and nothing will stop it but I must find some really dodgy grog and drink it and somehow take pleasure in it as a way of re-asserting my belief in the existence of a benign but essentially cheapskate Universe. 

Where to look? I have had a bad time with Aldi in the past; but good times with Carrefour, SuperU and, of course, Lidl. Carrefour and SuperU not being in England, I must therefore Lidl it, but it turns out my nearest Lidl is practically in the West Country. But no matter, because I am so slack-jawed with boredom that any excuse to drive into the the outer outer suburbs looking for something I don't need and very probably shouldn't want, is like a gift from Heaven.

Also it's a chance to re-acquaint myself with the sempiternal mysteries of Lidl itself. If you can't go abroad, go to Lidl: it's not England, and it's only barely a supermarket as we understand it. The dream-like sensation of seeing familiar things subtly and disturbingly modified never fails. I mean, whoever heard of Crusti Croc Salt Your Own Crisps at Waitrose? Or W5 dishwasher tablets? Or Melangerie coffee? Or Dulano salami? Or Master Crumble breakfast cereal? To say nothing of the possibility of acquiring a Circular Saw with Laser Guide (34.99) or a tube of Construction Adhesive (1.99) or a Toilet Seat with LED Lights (26.99). But Lidl contains all of these things in its is parallel universe, and all these things define it. And this is without even touching on the provisional, even guerilla character of the stores themselves, which look like car exhaust replacement centres that have gone bust and been converted overnight into food cash'n'carries, hurriedly filled with the contents of three Czech pantechnicons and lit by an emergency lighting system nicked from a nearby hospital.

But on the other hand: you can (as anyone familiar with Lidl will attest) get some really edible stuff there, for not much. Picking over the roughly-opened cardboard crates and cheap trestles, you can find a single malt Scotch Whisky that costs less than a couple of bottles of Waitrose Sauvignon Blanc, and a milk chocolate Fruit'n'Nut substitute that rarely leaves our favourites list. It is like finding gold at the bottom of a bin liner.

And the wines? A small but pertinent choice at my closest Lidl - a good thing, no attempt to bludgeon you to death, instead a score of red white and pink plus some sparkling stuff, in the middle of which I lunge at a German Pinot Blanc (in a transgressive, weirdly-shaped brown bottle, erotic in its perversity) for 4.99; an Australian Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon at 3.99; and something gnomically calling itself Bordeaux - red, AC, 3.99. These are magic numbers - notionally close enough in price to the sort of stuff I was buying in Italy a few months ago, allowing for currency slippages, excise differential, general wooziness and so on. Frankly, my €4 Carrefour Chianti was pretty uncouth at the time, so the 3.99 Bordeaux doesn't have to try very hard to get even on points - added to which it has instructions in German on the back, which makes it as fabulous as something out of Maeterlinck: Dieser harmonische Rotwein stammt aus einer der berühmtesten Wein-Regionen der Welt. I am hopeful. I am on a first date.

Perhaps too hopeful. Loads of tannins and acidity, chesty cough/hint of groin strain, notes of old newspaper, dust, socks, are the main impressions. A fifteen-minute pause allows it to fight amongst itself and after that, well, it's about as okay as the €4 Chianti. It's a wine that you avert your gaze from while drinking, but it's still recognisably wine. I blame my sense of disappointment on the tragic magic of Lidl, of course, the thing that got me out of the house in the first place, the dream of finding a better, cheaper, bar of chocolate; a toilet seat with LED lights; a bottle of wine costing 3.99 that tastes like a bottle of wine costing 5.49. Oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust, as Rilke put it, capturing that Lidl psychic dislocation in one.



  1. I might be lucky, I don't have a Lidl nearby nor a car as it happens to get to it. I do need a new toilet seat mind...

  2. I note your increasing tally of online wine writing near-awards with interest; perhaps this post might be eligible for the 2012 Plumber's Mate Pavement Drinking Challenge Cuplet.


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