Thursday 14 June 2018


So I'm brooding on beers and spirits (so many beers, a wall of the damn things in the supermarket, like the reredos of a mediaeval church) when PK demands to know what I think of these people - whose business it is, apparently, to supply really rich boatowners, or at least people on superyachts, with wine. Why me? I say. Because you go sailing, he says. But the boat I sail in, I say, is fairly small and lumpy and mostly sails around the South Coast, not the South of France or the Caribbean and I don't even like sailing that much. I'll send you the link, he says.

Well he sends me the link and for a long time I avoid opening it but at last boredom and the faintest atom of curiosity overcome me so I go and have a poke around and I have to admit that there is a horrible fascination in discovering that very very rich people live lives so far removed from mine that we might as well belong to two different species. Also that, according to a piece about Onshore Cellars in Decanter, what these monstrous superrich humans like to drink a lot of on the Côte d'Azur are Dom Perignon Rosé and Cristal plus plenty of Petrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and a load of costly rosés delivered in bottles as big as fighter jet drop tanks, such as I saw a couple of weeks back at the London Wine Fair. One person in eight on this planet doesn't have enough to eat, but one person in approximately four million can expect something described as a 'Seven-star service' in which the most tiresomely whimsical appetites are routinely pandered to by a team of frenzied perfectionists. There you go.

But the horrible fascination only lasts five minutes because after that, reason returns and reminds me that

a) Superyachts aren't boats in the first place. I've never been on a really big superyacht but I have been on a couple of vast Sunseekers at boat shows and even though they're only half the size of the monster boats, it is clear that in the broadest sense these structures aren't boats, they're floating boutique hotels whose scenery occasionally changes around them; rather than things which pitch roll and yaw horribly even at anchor, and

b) The more northerly your latitude, the less appealing wine becomes, anyway. Yes, in the Med or the Caribbean, you might well feel like a cool glass of pink champagne at any time of the day or night, but in the English Channel and northwards, it's just not going to happen. Spirits are what we crave, whisky, gin, brandy, calvados. I wish I found rum, given its Naval associations and its sovereign powers as a cure-all and mood-settler - especially for those of us reduced to terror and misery by the open sea - something other than revolting, but the others do just fine. And beer, of course. Wine + sailing results in a category error which no amount of finessing can correct.

On the other hand -

Beerwatch: five days ago, in keeping with the new ethos, I had a bottle of Tiger beer for supper, and it was delicious. This Singaporean beverage, now apparently yet another part of the Heineken empire, comes in at 4.8%, with a pleasing deep amber appearance and just the right suggestion of airport toilets in the nose. Served good and cold, this went down perfectly with some trout and the following morning I felt fresh as a daisy, not something you can always depend on with trout. A couple of days after that, I had an Adnams bitter, not quite as emollient as the Tiger but perfectly good in its way. The night before last, I had a Welsh beer (yes) called Double Dragon, in a pub, in Wales, and it was rather terrifically firm and fruity and had just a hint of putrefaction, so what with one thing and another, I had a pint and a half of the stuff and felt strangely confirmed in my choice. In other words, wine? On boats? Not when I've got this Wonderland at my feet!


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