Thursday 7 January 2016

So What Did We Learn Over The Festive Season, 2015?

1) The great gin project continues to stall. The fabulous Sipsmith is still here, about half-full, but I cannot summon the moxie to finish it off, largely on account of the expense of the original bottle. I am incapable of thinking that big. Next to the Sipsmith is a bottle of generic supermarket gin - nothing wrong with it in a brush-cleaner kind of way - which was meant do duty for everyday, non-Sipsmith gin & tonic consumption, but which languishes also, because I keep forgetting to buy tonic water; or, when I do buy tonic water, I forget to use it and it goes flat. Impasse: only broken this Christmas by no.2 son comandeering the Sipsmith, despite my protests, in order to make a stupendously delicious Dry Martini (Dolin the vermouth involved, and yes, I like to taste the vermouth) which gave me the brief and dazzling sensation of having an I.Q. of 180.

2) But cocktails can be dangerous. No.2 son also made some Whisky Sours in a comedy cocktail shaker we found at the back of a cupboard, and while the outcome was almost as terrific as the Dry Martini, the process was appalling, involving repeated explosions - the result of all that egg white and sugar syrup foaming away under pressure in a device best suited to pre-school children. Two explosions were more or less contained in the kitchen sink. The third covered the walls, floor and table, as well as the top half of no.2 son. It took fifteen minutes to clean everything up. I have since thrown the cocktail shaker away, and with it, our dreams of the High Life.

3) It is a lot harder to re-design a website than it looks.

4) Just because a red is substantial-looking, doesn't mean it'll keep. My brother-in-law's wine cellar is, essentially, his downstairs toilet. This means his drink collection has to share a relatively awkward space with a hoover, a toilet bowl, some light reading and a washbasin. Bottles get put at the back of the rack and are forgotten. Then, every few years, the brother-in-law has a clear-out which reveals all sorts of orphans and foundlings, many of them quite fancy - gifts and bribes from his time as a financial tough nut - but not all of them in good condition. I can remember sampling a Chianti which was still fine after a couple of decades; and a Chablis which was tragically undrinkable. This Christmas he brought along a posh 1990 South African Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon - cork, sauve label, no stupid pairing suggestions on the back, general air of dignity - but wore a frown at the same time. How long, he wanted to know, could we reasonably expect this kind of wine to last? Twenty-five years should be fine for such a muscular creation, shouldn't it? Shouldn't it? His unease spread like 'flu. Things only got worse when the cork disintegrated in the neck of the bottle, at once sending me into a spiral of incompetence involving a jazzy corkscrew I got from a hotel in New York, some anguished profanities, shreds of filthy cork flying everywhere and joining the puddles of Whisky Sour which I hadn't managed to clean up, finally a strain through a handkerchief into a not entirely clean decanter. Colour of the beverage? Rusty. Nose? Mostly spraypaint, some disinfectant. We tried it with the meal, willing it not to be loathsome, but it was. Sons nos. 1 & 2 reckoned it was worth sticking with, but they would. I got shot of it down the sink, which it duly spattered with sediment like small arms fire. Badly kept? Or intrinsically lacking the backbone to see it through a quarter-century? What, in fact, is the moral here?

5) PK has an artificial Christmas Tree. Yes, PK, the stickler for form, the man who uses the term gentleman like it was 1949, the specialist in dinner-party etiquette, the man who doesn't think much of my wine glasses because they're smaller than my actual head, the man who frets about what the neighbours will say, this man, I tell you, this man has a fake Christmas tree perched on a side table in his sitting room. With fairy lights. It's like finding the Duke of Edinburgh in trainers. Yes, it's that shocking.


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