Thursday 1 November 2012

No. 110 - Waitrose Crisp'n'Floral

So it turns out that this is the 110th Sediment posting, unless the blog counter is on the fritz, and I feel I ought to use the moment to take stock in some way. More resonant, yes, if I'd thought to do it for blog no. 100 or even 99, but it didn't come to me in time. Or even blog 101 in a cod-Orwellian way, but anyhow.

What I decide to do is run through all those ghastly past blogs, weed out the ones that are plainly off-piste (talking about glassware, movies, freebies, the Archbishop of Canterbury) and contemplate those in which PK or I have tried a wine and reached a definite judgement on it. Then split those judgements into for and against. Then divide one total by the other to find out whether, on balance, we've drunk more satisfactory wines than unsatisfactory ones; or the other way round.

Absolute hell having to churn through 100+ old posts, as you can imagine, but here, allowing for arithmetical incompetence and general slippages, are the results. We both enjoyed more wines than we didn't enjoy, but the enjoyment rates differed. PK's hit rate was 3:2 - in other words, for every five bottles drunk, three would pass muster (or be positively tasty) and two would fail and be pronounced actively bad. CJ's, on the other hand, was a galloping 3.75:1. For every five bottles, nearly four would be okay, with only one turning out to be an actual dud. What does this tell us?

For a start, it confirms, if you didn't know it already, that if you begin with rock-bottom expectations, as do I, then you're much more likely to be satisfied by whatever comes your way. Although PK occasionally takes a run at some real muck, the sort I like, he spends much more time struggling to find something that meets his unwarrantedly high standards, albeit at a real-world price. But what is the result? More frequent disappointments, despite his years of expertise, high living, trainspotter's tendency to remember things, football-sized wine glasses and so on. Who, therefore, has the happier existence? 

Yes, you might well argue that if the conoisseur's lows are more frequent, the highs compensate by being more satisfying, more life-affirming. The dullard who's content to eat burgers every night will find a regular, unambitious gratification, but will his life be as fully lived as that of the foodhound who once in a while gets to go apeshit over a plate of cailles en sarcophages? Or is the goob with his Burger King actually conserving his energies for a later session with Henry James' The Golden Bowl, a supersubtle pleasure entirely opaque to the foodie, thus balancing out the equation? We don't know, without being given the whole picture.

On the other hand, I am in a position to tell you that although the low-life route looks simple enough to achieve and maintain, it actually takes a great deal of work. How can you not be tempted to go permanently upscale on the rare occasions you get to drink a decent wine? Yes, you say to yourself, holding the glass haughtily up to the light, I could see myself doing more of this. This is where I belong. It takes an almost monastic talent for self-denial to draw breath and remind yourself that drinking well all the time requires an investment of patience and effort, is prone to savage disappointments (PK passim) and costs about three times more money than you currently have. You must instead, as the late Jeffrey Bernard put it, reach for the ground, and always keep that ambition in mind. I mean, I may make it look easy, but it's not, it really is not.

In the light of which, good news at last from Waitrose: they're re-launching their own-brand wines! Apparently, the focus is on 'Provenance, heritage and straightforward styles', with a  mish-mash of red Bordeaux, Cava, a Grenache from southen France, a Chianti, the usual suspects. And at very fair prices: the Chianti coming in at £5.99, a CĂ´tes du Rhone Villages at £6.99. This is exactly the kind of thing I need to keep my standards round about  knee-height, especially with a recently-tested bottle of something called Italian Crisp and Floral (as opposed to Crisp'n Dry, the popular chip oil) an unmissable £4.99. Does it taste of anything? Not that you'd notice: a bit of fragrance about half-way through, quite like Toilet Duck, perfectly pleasant, followed by a slight irritation at the back of the throat. It's alcoholic, which is good. Does it matter that it's neither here nor there? No, it does not. Neither here nor there is perfect. Neither here nor there is exactly where I live. Bring on 111!


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