Thursday 16 February 2017

So Very Cheap: Mme. Parmentier's Fitou

So the adventure of Christmas is well and truly behind us, but it's a Christmas that really does keep on giving, because we found a leftover cracker the other day and decided to pull it, since it was a Thursday, and what did I find inside apart from a hat and a joke about sprouts? An authentically impressive stopper-cum-pourer for my wine bottles, as seen in the picture.

Yes, it's mostly made out of plastic, just like the pocket comb or set of golf tees that normally flops out of an exploded cracker; but there is proper engineering, too. The hinged stopper is kept in place with a metal trunnion pin and is sealed with a neat rubber washer; the spout is not only effortlessly stylish and drip-free, it has a return tube positioned at the top to allow air to flow back into the bottle while the wine flows out; and there is a ribbed rubber collar to ensure a respectable fit in the neck of the bottle. I mean, this is not nothing. It looks like something off a saxophone. It could even have been made in Germany; although the crackers themselves came from our local branch of Robert Dyas, the hardware people, which I suppose tells you something about how we like to have fun.

So now I have a free wine pourer/preserver to add to the free Waiter's Friend which I pinched from a hotel in New York and I am starting to wonder if I can't capitalise further on the prodigality of Western culture and get my entire wine-drinking life onto a no-cost footing. After all, my elder son and his girlfriend use old jamjars to drink water out of when they're at home - partly out of frugality, partly because it's kind of a boho thing to do - so I suppose I could start toping out of jamjars and old gravy boats and recycled Brasso tins, and in fact - come to think of it - I started on that grim process a while back, so why not go the whole hog?

The free drink, though, the actual wine, that's always going to be a problem. No-one ever gives us anything for nothing at Sediment, or hardly ever, so in order to get my drink gratis, it would mean waiting for Christmas and Birthdays and asking very specifically and only for wine, every time those events rolled by. And since they both roll by in the month of December in my benighted case, the rest of the year is going to be almost morbidly dry unless I can find out how to make about sixty bottles last fifty-two weeks.

Actually, there's another problem. Both of my magical accessories, my Waiter's Friend and my superstopper, presuppose that I am the kind of person who a) drinks wine from a bottle with a cork that has to be pulled b) needs or wants to pour that wine in a grown-up fashion before closing it up primly with a hinged stopper. But we know that neither of these is true. I drink stuff from screw-top bottles, and if I splash it all over the table and the back of my own hand while pouring, then, frankly, that's what happens. In other words, even my freebies are more upmarket than me.

Which leaves me with today's half-drunk headache-maker, a wine which expresses my situation perfectly. It's a bottle of Mme. Parmentier's screwtop 2015 Fitou ('enjoyably swiggable' The Guardian said of the 2014) on offer at £5.99, and it's fine, perfectly manageable in its way, but am I really going to get all prissy about it and start treating it like an honoured guest or something that in any way mattered? Am I going to treat it with respect? Am I going to pour it out properly and stopper it? Even with something from a Christmas cracker?


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