Thursday 27 April 2017

The Week In Wine: Small, Cheap, Discoveries A Cause For Celebration? You Be The Jury

So the Brother-in-Law gets back from his dash to Calais in search of bargain grog and, true to his word, brings round three bottles of Kina Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at £2.99 a bottle and three of Waipara Hills Pinot Noir from Central Otago - each of these coming in a troubling £6.99, a sum I justified to myself several weeks earlier using a rationale I can now no longer access. Still: it averages out at about a fiver a bottle - only this time with the promise of better, less tearful, drinking than I am normally used to.

And what do you know? The Sauvignon Blanc is really not bad - actually very good, especially at £2.99: nice floral notes, pleasingly balanced acidity, grown-up finish, the whole experience utterly removed from my usual Sauvignon Blanc bile juice. Why didn't I ask for half a case? Especially since the Pinot Noir is nice without being arrestingly so, not the show-stopper I reckoned £6.99 should easily command. But anyway, I am marginally ahead of the game at this point and my vacuous sense of assurance increases very slightly the next day when this piece of inflammatory nonsense is pointed my way - champagne now being cheaper than mouthwash - and I start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the world is at last coming round to my way of thinking. This train of thought only persists for a moment, as I know that the world never really comes round to my way of thinking not least because to all intents and purposes I have no way of thinking, only a way of reacting.

But then: the wife and I find ourselves at a dinner party, one of those things that PK habitually uses as a way of mediating his understanding of reality, an event where there are more than four people round the table and we all get a (delicious) starter and a very fancy main course and it is all as civilised as it could possibly be. So civilised, in fact, that I find myself seated opposite a fantasticaly distinguished medical type (penetrating gaze, quiet conviction of his own rightness) who leans across and says to me, in all sincerity:

'We've got a friend who's a Master of Wine. And he said to us the other day, The wine business, it's all a lot of bullshit!'

Well, I'm not going to dispute this, not least because I am already slightly awash with a toothsome Crozes Hermitage which seems to be freely available and I sense that anything I say stands a good chance of being unintelligible. Only then my new friend goes on:

'What's more, this Master of Wine was serving us a rosé and he ran out, so he said, I'll mix some up with a red and a white. And he did! He just mixed the two until he got the effect he wanted! It was very good!'

I slur something predictable about grapeskins, but my head is reeling, not just from the Crozes Hermitage but from the vista of possibilities that this information, however anecdotal, has revealed. Of course it's long been a plan of mine to see how realistically red + white = rosé - so long, that I'd forgotten about it until this moment. Now though, it comes rushing back with real kinetic force, not least because I have also been nurturing a quiet detestation of a wine page I found in the local glossy free mag - a wine page giving itself over (here's a surprise) to the delights of drinking rosé wines in the summertime.

As I write this, this blossoms gently bob in the breeze, the rosé roundup (Think Pink) begins, so you can see at once where this particular cavalcade of cliché is tending: in other words, lovely summer fruits, plenty of fruit, citrus in the fruity mix, just as much fruit and tastes of summer and sunshine. The clincher, though, the thing that really hurts, is not just the banality of the prose or its smugness but the fact that the very cheapest wine on offer is from Waitrose, at £8.99, while the priciest (Sainsbury's) comes in at £19.50. This latter - what do you know? - May be a step too far for many, but is also, consolingly enough, a glass of Mediterranean sunshine at its best.

Very well. A man I have never met before assures me that Masters of Wine cobble together a pink wine beverage using leftover red and white; a magazine-based wine selection sends me into a tizzy of rage with its complacent rosé lipservice; champagne and mouthwash cost the same; the stars align - and I understand that now is the moment to start experimenting with some of my crappiest whites and most implacable reds to create a true homebrewed rosé, still and sparkling. The summer is indeed starting to take shape.


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