Thursday, 21 November 2019


So the wife and I (mostly the wife, to be honest) are having a bit of a party, scores of superannuated guests invited, and I have been put in charge of the wine. This is not as much fun as you might imagine.

First off, how much do we get in, sparkling and still combined? The estimates we're currently using give us something like one and a third bottles per head. Either this is not nearly enough, or way too much. If I drink a whole bottle of wine in the course of a few hours, I generally feel fairly lit up. Is everyone else going to want to feel the same way? Quite a few guests will be driving, so that cuts them down to a mere couple of glasses, I would have thought. A few more won't want to drink much anyway. This then bumps up the possible input, for the hardened boozers, to something like a bottle and a half, which sounds quite a lot. On the other hand, the last thing we want is to run out. Or perhaps we do, to act as a heavy-handed way of marking the end of the fun? Okay, so the numbers stand, for now.

Secondly, where to get it? As it happens, Sainsbury were doing a good price on some champagne a couple of weels ago, so I ordered three cases online, went to pick them up two days later, found that they only had one case and had made up the rest of the order with Prosecco and anything else lying about. So I took the champagne, left the filler, and where did I turn? Majestic. Yes, Majestic have been getting some mixed publicity recently and we've drivelled on about their apparent loss of mojo, but all I can think of now is that they do wine, wine is what they do, I want several cases of wine, the wine I actually want, not the wine left lying around in the stockroom and so, helplessly, guiltily, I gravitate to Majestic and immediately pick up some more cheapo champagne to make up the deficit.

While I'm there, the still white chooses itself (a basic Picpoul de Pinet, really rather delicious) but the red is more of a challenge. I grab a bottle of generic Spanish red for sampling purposes, mainly because it calls itself the guv'nor, which I think is kind of amusing; only it turns out the guv'nor tastes like the floor of a hardware shop, so back I go for more red samples, ending up with a Tempranillo, a Malbec and a Barbera D'Asti, all within the price range.

A couple of days of intensive sampling then pass, at the end of which I feel ill and slightly unhinged. I am so full of cheap drink that If I lean over, red wine starts to form a puddle in my ear. Also, I'm getting some bad interference from the copy on the backs of the bottles. I know this is the kind of thing PK is always ranting about, but the beastly guv'nor does itself no favours (not that it could, anyway) by announcing, just above the alcohol content, that the guv'nor rules his establishment with confident poise, yet his disarming politeness conveys a sense of wariness. He is not a man to be trifled with. The Malbec, on the other hand - Argentinian, who knew? - turns out to be called Las Maletas - the suitcases - complete with a Hanna-Barbera-themed cartoon on the front of a man holding a suitcase over his head and an injunction to Pack your suitcase, grab your coat and travel the length and breadth of Argentina via these flavourful wines, on the back, again just above the alcohol content. The wrongness of all this still haunts me.

In the end I go for the Tempranillo, not least because it comes in a bottle with a label and not much else; also because it stays down, not something I can otherwise guarantee. So I'm done! All I have to do now is put the order in and hope that it's delivered at the right time and to the right place by a business whose existence is predicated on the idea that it can deliver the correct wines to a given address on a given day.

And then I have to sort out the music. I'm thinking The Crystals, The Shangri-Las and Betty Everett. And possibly Bernard Hermann and the Northern Dance Orchestra, although this might change. I mean, there's still time, now that the booze is under control.



  1. Tempranillo and the NDO! There's no improving on that... Great post.