Wine is the drink of champions, directly responsible for more than one dodgily slurry post on this blog. Yet I know very little about it. I love to drink it, and once I’ve had one glass it’s very difficult not to quickly grab the bottle for another one, but if you asked me, I’d have absolutely no idea which wines are good, bad or ugly. No idea about the difference between a bottle of plonk costing a fiver, and one that’d set you back a good few more quid.
A few years ago I went to a wine tasting evening. For the person hosting the event, it was a nice opportunity to get orders for cases of wine. But for one of the attendees, it was all about writing in a big notebook. Upon questioning him, we learnt that it contained pages and pages of scribblings on the subtle differences between the world’s various vineyards. He was the alcohol equivalent of a trainspotter (winespotter?), and while for the rest of us, the event – ‘Around The World In Chardonnay’ – was an interesting exercise in learning a bit about grapes while getting smashed, for him it was a forensic examination of the wines’ ‘nose’. It wasn’t only the notebook and encyclopaedic knowledge that marked him out as serious, though – he also spat out the wine after tasting, rather than swallowing it. Heresy!
As well as providing many evenings of drunken antics during adulthood, wine was the source of a social faux pas when I was younger. I was nineteen years old and newly going out with a girl called Karen. I’d been invited round to her house for dinner, and her father produced a bottle of wine. Upon my glass being filled, I got through it pretty quickly and asked for more, only to be met by a steely stare. What I hadn’t realised was that the bottle had cost over £20, and I’d just wolfed it down. I should have sipped it. Should have shown more decorum. I was in Stoke Bishop, after all. Whoops.
So that’s another thing I don’t know about – the social niceties of wine. This is a whole world that I’ve never investigated properly, and will probably never experience. I don’t go to big off-licences and investigate the labels, spending serious money on a single bottle. No, I’m like most people. I go around Tesco and look for the deals. If there’s a Shiraz or a Merlot on offer, I’m all over the three for a tenner.
I’m sure I’m missing out. But one can have too many hobbies, right?