Thursday 8 October 2015

A site-specific wine – Barramundi

As falling temperatures and foggy mornings herald the arrival of our Autumn, what better time to put on to UK shelves a wine whose theme is…camping.

Perhaps the supermarket buyer did not notice that our summer is over. Or perhaps they thought that someone had launched a wine for people moving into a new house*, given that the label depicts a van with three tons of shite lashed to its roof.

But no, this is an Australian wine, with a theme of Australian camping. Which is around 10,000 miles away from the notion of camping in England right now.

“NEW!” shouts the collar band – unlike the exhausted old meme they then exploit: “Keep calm and go camping with Barramundi”.

“Perfect with sun, summer and BBQ steak”. Which in England puts it, oh, about four months out of date. Or perhaps someone thinks we will be transported as we drink this wine, from a warming Autumn supper under leaden English skies to a summer picnic at Hanging Rock?

And the problems are only just beginning. When people talk about the difficulty of interpreting wine labels, they are usually talking about the Bordeaux classification structure, or the complexity of German names. They are not usually talking about the English description on the back label. Did I say English? “Listen to the currawongs serenade as the sun goes down,” they suggest. “Just watch out for the bindi-eyes and mozzies!” I’m sorry, but this is gibberish.

Perhaps one might also enjoy this wine when the borogoves are mimsy, and the mome raths outgrabe?

They clearly have no idea about English camping. On our campsites, we do not listen to the currawongs, whatever they may be, serenade as the sun goes down. We listen to the singing of the drunken Mancs.

Barramundi seem to be arriving on campsite with half of their attic lashed to the top of their van. Poorly lashed, I will point out, before they head for our motorways and become an item on Police, Camera, Unstable Load.

Surfboard, shorts, barbeque equipment, picnic hamper, an electric fan, a cricket bat…it’s like a summer episode of The Generation Game. About the only thing relevant to the English outdoors is a pair of wellies. Oh, and a walkie-talkie, presumably to radio for evacuation.

Some of the things pictured on this label, if not actually banned, are guaranteed to bring misery to a British camping site. A saxophone! Someone walking on to a camping site carrying a saxophone would probably be assaulted. “Do you do requests, pal? Yeah? Well, why not have a go at putting that back in your van?”

And Barramundi also encourages you, while “lying on the grass”, to “Kick off your thongs,” which our site supervisors will be quick to point out refers in Australia to flip-flops, and not underwear.

Of course the wine itself is a Shiraz, the only varietal hefty enough to knock in tent pegs. And it’s pretty challenging; not one of those fat, comfortably soupy versions, presumably redolent of sluggish stay-at-homes, but sharper and more abrasive, with a catch in the throat.

But then, given the privations of food, comfort and hygiene that most campers are willing to endure, perhaps a degree of personal suffering in the wine is only appropriate?



*Actually, a wine aimed at people moving into a new house is rather a good idea, isn’t it? A suitable housewarming gift from neighbours, or something to share with one’s partner as you sit surrounded by boxes. Screwcap of course, because you won’t be able to find the corkscrew. That’s © Sediment, that one.

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