Thursday 19 July 2018

Wine and Football – match abandoned

Wine and football don’t mix. End of. That is one of the clearest things we have learnt during the football-obsessed month from which we are now emerging.

When wine sees a bandwagon, it jumps upon it, even if it bears no real relation to wine itself. So this year, wine eschewed its usual Summer marketing favourites. (“Garden wines! Because you need to drink a different wine as soon as you step outside!” “Barbeque wines! They smother the taste of simultaneously burnt and undercooked food!” “Rosé wines! Because…it’s Summer!”)

Instead, brands and merchants attempted to hitch wine to the World Cup. “Here are the perfect wines to celebrate the dream!” declared a typical Saraceni Wines.   “Are you ready to live to the fullest the World Cup?” Oh yes, to the very fullest.

Majestic Wine offered money back on a case if England beat Sweden, because “Finding great wine should be easier than winning at penalties”, an analogy as strained as the tealeaves in Stalag Luft III.

Oddbins at one stage Tweeted, “MM Cavas are delicious! Which surely indicates a Spanish victory.” Or not.

The Wine Society ran a World Cup of Grapes, and then Tanners Wines simply repeated the idea, a tenuous link with the football in the first place, but one which raised the tantalising prospect of simply rerunning a World Cup to get a different result.

And here’s Astley Vineyard, in Worcestershire: “Wine. Football. Why not!?” Well, before we have a chance to count the ways, they admit “ We're not the biggest football fans, but as the World Cup is on it would be a shame to miss an opportunity!” At least they’re honest about it.

“The idea is simple: taste wines from the top three countries of this year's World Cup - no matter who they are!” As simple ideas go, that one must be up there with the chocolate teapot.

Wine and football simply don’t go together. A few Premier League clubs do have official wine partners; for Arsenal it’s Chilean wine Santa Rita; Man City have done a regional deal with Wolf Blass; and Man Utd still have their contract with Casillero del Diablo, despite endangering the relationship with the world’s worst promotional video. All the world may be a stage, but some people are better off remaining players, especially Wayne Rooney.

(Endearingly, Liverpool don’t have a branded wine deal, but they do offer their own “top quality wines” – through an Official Off-Licence, like.)

But the association really doesn’t work. Because at the end of ninety minutes/when the whistle goes/insert further clumsy football result analogy here, wine is simply not a good partner for football.

Apart from anything else, wine is a drink to consider. It is surely for contemplation, not raw celebration. It is cerebral, not physical.

True, there were some aspects of the football which were as cerebral, nay incomprehensible, as some tasting notes; I’m thinking of Glenn Hoddle’s strategic analysis. “What about these young Merlots, Glenn, how do you rate them?” “Ooh, lovely. At the end of the day, they’ve sneaked through the channel, and they’ve picked our pocket. Beautiful…”

But with football, you need a drink you can gulp. You need to drink in quantity, whether it’s to fuel the fervour, to calm the nerves, or to provide refreshment, especially in this summer’s heat. The idea that wine is a good way to “quench your thirst” while watching sport – thanks, Rude Wines – is somewhere between foolish and dangerous.

And bearing this summer’s most popular football celebration in mind, wine is simply not as suitable as beer for throwing in the air. (When Sediment pointed this out to Rude Wines, we received the prim reply, “In this case we'd recommend having white wine in your glass, less stains to deal with.”)

Wine throwing, as we know, is not a communal affair; chucking wine at someone is a very direct, angry, personal gesture more akin to throwing a punch. And the quantity of wine in glasses would simply not be sufficient to create that glittering, sun-refracted firework display of beer which greeted each England goal.

Of course, it may be that champagne and football do go together. We just never got a chance to find out…


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