Thursday 19 December 2019

Thursday 12 December 2019

Wine socks. Yes, wine socks.

What possible connection could there be between wine and socks? Good question.

At this time of year, thoughts inevitably turn to wine. The columnists trot out their lists of 10, 20, 50 wines for Christmas; one national newspaper has actually published a pull-out guide to 100 best wines for Christmas. As if narrowing the choice down to a hundred is doing any favours. Or, indeed, any narrowing down.

And, of course, seasonal thoughts also turn to socks, last gift-giving resort of the desperate. So what could be more appropriate for Sediment than to turn our own festive consideration to… wine socks.

Sorry, wine socks? Oh yes. After all, that sock-wearer that you know possibly drinks wine. And you’d be surprised how many of the people who drink wine also have feet.

So who can blame a retailer for thinking of a way to target both? It may stretch logic and credulity to combine two such distinct notions as wine and socks – but if there is stretching to be done, then someone out there with an eye on Christmas profit will find a way to do it.

And the bizarre way most have found is to weave wine-related statements on the soles of the socks. Because nothing makes an entertaining Christmas gift like a fatuous message. And the most popular message, with minor variations of quantity and politeness, is: If you can read this, bring me wine. 

The festive scenario is set right there. At other times of the year, of course, the soles of the feet are pointed primarily towards the floor. Perhaps this is why some of the retailers describe this as a hidden message, a concept which rather defeats the very purpose of a message.

But at Christmas, your socked feet are assumed to be resting up on a footstool or sofa, their soles visible to family and friends. Or, which would be even more entertaining while holding a glass of wine, you are playing Twister.

There is little to say about the message itself, apart from the fact that if you are sartorially (or alcoholically) challenged, you can put the socks on the wrong feet, and the message is still comprehensible. To the same end, you can cross your feet without garbling the message like Yoda. (“Bring me wine, Could I ask you to?”)
It’s astonishing just how widespread variations on these socks seem to be. Some acknowledge my old Mum’s edict, that a “please” would be nice. Others reduce matters to an impolite command. 

Yet at least one pair fails even the basic requirement of the message, since the socks are woven in such a bizarre typeface that, actually, you can’t read it.

And then there are those who have tried to create their own, unique message. This white (well, whitish) pair, for example, with a worryingly authentic-looking red wine stain around the ribbing. They say, “Watch me sip, watch me lay lay” – what does that even mean?

Another pair clearly fail the feet-crossing test, as they could read, “Calling in sick for work. This wine tastes like I’m”.

Yet another says “Follow me, Bring wine.” Or is that “Bring wine, Follow me”? Either way, it makes little sense. Is the wearer not prone, rather than upright and moving? Where are we meant to be going? What for? Why?

And then there are socks which display the classic message, but on the back of the leg. Presumably these are aimed at the niche market of either gender who do not wear trousers. Or those, possibly a larger market, who spend their drinking time in only underwear and socks, face down on the carpet.

It is foolish to ask whether any of these message socks would actually work. Did Kiss Me Quick hats actually work? (And would they, in today’s climate, be considered to constitute consent?) I can tell you now that the message would be roundly ignored in Casa K; and if the soles of my socks were on display, I would probably be asleep.

Anyway, the retailers of these items seem to be oblivious to one basic thing. Who drinks wine in their socks? Next you’ll be telling me that there are gentlemen who eat dinner without a jacket.



Thursday 5 December 2019

Ian Botham's Disappearing Smell

So in a fit of asininity, I buy a bottle of celebrity wine: Ian Botham's Cabernet Sauvignon ('The All-Rounder' it announces on the label) on account of its being on offer in the supermarket and anyway, don't we all need something to cheer ourselves up with in these dark times? Only 13%, which I would have thought maybe a tiny bit underpowered for a south-eastern Australian red, but what do I know? Also, I have no idea why Ian Botham should have started a side hustle in wines. Yes, 'It’s probably better than scoring a hundred at Lord’s getting this right', he might have said in an interview, but I'm not persuaded. Still. It gives us both something to do, I suppose, him putting his name on a drink, me drinking it, so I get the grog back home and try a glassful.

But here's the thing: it doesn't taste of anything. I mean, there's a kind of rasp of wine somewhere around the roof of my mouth, but nose? After-effects? Tannins? Acidity? The sense of having had a drink? I'm not getting anything, anything at all. All I'm getting is this:

At which point I start to panic. Clearly, Sir Ian can't have let a bottle of fine Australian Cabernet Sauvignon out of the warehouse without making sure it has some kind of flavour; so the clear inference is that I'm losing my sense of taste. Of course I am. I've been subjecting myself to a diet of cheap industrial wines for years and now my taste buds have burnt out. It had to happen. There is a moral here; actions have consequences; what else did I expect? I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did, now I think about it.

Either that or I'm experiencing one of those unpredictable changes which happen over time, in which a favourite taste or sensation simply loses its appeal - or worse, becomes completely unpalatable. People just announce, one day, that they used to love cheese but can't eat it now, or have had to give up coffee because it makes them sweat, or once adored the music of Peter Frampton but now have to leave the room if it ever comes on, not that it ever does, but you take the point. I've seen it happen. Such changes come unannounced and turn out to be permanent. I once used to like milkshakes, but it passed. I am now about to lose any capacity I once had to enjoy red wine. White wine next? Croissants? There it is. It's time to come to terms.

But - just to be sure - I crack open a bottle of affordable Monastrell I happen to have been thinking about for a few days and take a swig. It's not mind-expandingly good; on the other hand, it tastes of some kind of red wine, a taste I already greet with a twinge of nostalgia. I take another swig. Well. Yes. Red wine. I try the Botham again. Still nothing. I put the Botham away for a day, before taking it out again and running it concurrently with the Monastrell. This gets me nowhere. At the end of three days I have drunk most of two bottles of red wine, one of which tastes of something and the other of which doesn't.

I can draw no conclusions from this, because the test sample is too small. All I'm left with is a choice between two unacceptable realities: the prospect of having to give up wine; or the prospect of having to come to terms with the idea that England's greatest all-round cricketer might stick his name on a bottle of something as flavourful as the atmosphere in a lift. I am too old and weak and cranky for this kind of inner conflict.

Apart from that, things are fine. How's your Christmas coming along?