Thursday 21 June 2018

But I would drink 500 mls

Now here’s a good idea, I thought to myself. (Obviously, because how else can one think?) A 500ml bottle of wine, two-thirds of a full-size bottle. It was being promoted by Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, at the London Wine Fair, and I thought, how considerate, how laudable, how sensible. At a stroke, they are giving me a simple way of reducing my evening’s consumption by a third. Perfect.

As the producers have said: “Alcohol consumption is going down with drinkers wanting to maintain control over their alcohol intake. These occasions often happen midweek when busy and stressed consumers are looking to unwind.” Busy, stressed, that’s me alright. I too want to unwind like a clockwork toy; and yes, often midweek, which is hardly surprising given that midweek constitutes 5/7ths of the week.

And I certainly do like to maintain control over my alcohol intake. This generally means positioning the bottle on my side of the table, within easy reach. Which ensures that no-one else can interfere with behaviour I can only (but precisely) describe as self-serving.

This new format will also save me from pumping out unfinished 750ml bottles like a demented cyclist – and then finding when I return to them that someone (no names, no pack drill) has either knocked the seal, or taken some wine without pumping it out again. (I return to the bottle, and my heart sinks, as the seal fails to emit its breathy little kiss of welcome.)

The explanatory tag above was on the bottles I saw at the London Wine Fair. “2 large glasses”, its first icon explains. I would excise the word “large”, to describe a 250ml glass of wine, and use a term such as “proper”. We are not in the world of restaurants, where as little as 125ml of wine constitutes a “glass”, as opposed to a more accurate definition such as a “taste”. No, we are at home, where generosity is unbounded.

And where a half bottle seems so miserly in the evening. At lunchtime, a half bottle is ideal; indeed a pichet is often adequate. With an afternoon of work ahead, a pichet or a half bottle oils the engine without, as it were, flooding the carburettor. Long-term readers may remember that I once bought a pichet, but soon realised that what works at a restaurant lunch does not necessarily work for supper at home.

For we are clearly talking here about an evening meal. “Dinner tonight”, the tag’s second icon proclaims. Indeed, the producers advise the trade that “Ideally the wine should be positioned outside the wine aisle, by the ready meals, to target the meal for tonight mission.”

The what, now? “The meal for tonight mission” sounds like a place which provides supper for the needy.

Ah no, mission is a verb, not a noun. And of course, buying a meal for tonight does mirror a combat mission. Getting successfully in and out of the zone (car park), achieving a targeted objective (meal for tonight) and incurring minimal collateral damage (to one’s wallet and schedule).

So part of the idea seems to be that “busy and stressed” punters will grab a 500ml bottle along with the other elements of their evening meal. Prices are just £5 to £5.50. Let us banish any thoughts that in the ready meal aisle, because there are no other bottles around for comparison, they might be so “busy and stressed” that they grab at it thinking they are actually picking up a reasonably-priced full-size bottle…

But then the third icon stopped me. “Sharing”, it said. I read the tag more closely. “Perfect for those occasions when you want to share just two large glasses of wine and no more.” Share. So if I understand it correctly, the suggestion is that this 500ml bottle will serve two of you?

Oh dear, no. I’m sorry, but, no. Perhaps this suggestion is aimed at people who don’t actually like wine?

I’m with Winston Churchill here. Winston considered the imperial pint of champagne,​ which is roughly 500ml but sounds a lot more impressive, to be the 'ideal size' for an individual at home. He famously said: “Clemmie [his wife] thinks that a full bottle is too much for me. But I know that half a bottle is insufficient to tease my brains. An imperial pint is an ideal size for a man like me.”

And, indeed, me.


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