Posts tagged ‘wine’

December 3, 2012

what I think about when I think about wine

Thursday 29 November 2012

I don’t like this wine, but it’s a Barolo, and costs a fortune. Saying I don’t like it would just sound ignorant. And invite comments about how I’m English and can’t possibly have any kind of taste in wine. I suppose I’ve learned that it’s bad manners to be dismissive about well-made wine, it doesn’t show the correct appreciation of all the challenges wine-makers face, all the choices they have to make, to follow the phases of the moon, whether to use pesticides or sexually confuse the butterflies [honestly, they spray a hormone into the air that makes the butterflies that attack grapes forget what their sexual preferences are re. gender, and makes them horny all the time, not just when the female is ready to mate],  to let the must ferment with or without the skins, to age the wine in oak, stainless steel, cement & fibreglass, in terracotta amphorae seven leagues under the sea … But, fuck, I don’t like this wine, and I’m paying a fortune for it. It’s a bit sour, very tanniny, it’s not giving me a good buzz. When I was a teenager hanging out with a biker gang –the ex-public school boy bikers – experimenting with drugs, drugs were evaluated on the quality of their buzz. Why isn’t wine? Why can’t I ask Antonio for something with a “mellow buzz” rather than elegant or full-bodied, which basically means less or more alcohol? I’m sure the producer decided to gently squeeze rather than crush the grapes, to use old rather than new oak casks to retain the genuine flavours and aromas of the wine, I don’t care, to me it tastes like it will curdle in my stomach. It smells of fruit, of jam. Big deal. I like surprises, like when wine smells of something completely different to wine, but tastes delicious, like those German wines that smell of petrol, or the biodynamic ones that smell of shit, honestly, not even shit and something else, just shit. They try to dress it up a bit, saying it smells of stable, or even horseshit, which is less scary than human shit, but the last one I tried smelled of nothing less than dirty nappy. So what do I have to do to get a decent glass of wine around here, without having to pay homage to well-made wines I don’t like? And for the record, Antonio, it’s not true that I am a sucker for oak-aged wine, all that vanilla, all the difficult stuff rubbed out by the wood. I do realise that they put actual wood shavings into tetra pak wine to make it drinkable. I don’t want a wine that tastes of the rocks on the sides of the mountains the grapes were perilously grown on. I want to float away, to get pleasantly squiffy, savouring a lovely, gentle, tantalising wine that reminds me of random things, of the smell of new tennis shoes, of shitaki mushrooms, of condoms, of chlorine, of freezers, of burned leaves, of mothballs, of M.’s deodorant.

October 25, 2012

what do YOU smell in a glass of wine?


October 18, 2012

wine doodles























October 18, 2012

wine doodles

October 17, 2012

dinner table politics

August 2011, with my in-laws. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just feed 2-year-olds with an injection,” I muse out loud. This doesn’t go down well. I am witnessing the usual dinnertime battle of wits between Mm and her parents to get her to eat. One of the rules of the game is that Mm shouldn’t cry – perhaps her parents think this is cheating.

Jamie Oliver is so wrong when he says the dinner table is the alter of family life.  Although, maybe it’s not such a bad metaphor, I mean, altars feature things like sacrifice and ritual slaughter, don’t they?

The way the food is served does a lot to affirm people’s status in the social order. In my mother-in-law’s family, of 6 children, the girls had to serve the boys, and the males were expected to be able to sit around and rest for an hour at lunchtime, while the females prepared the food, waited on them and cleared up. G says that she used to argue with her father that studying counted as work and she should be expected to rest as well.

This evening N served me a portion of ravioli that was exactly half what he served himself and his wife, and the same as what he served Mm. So that’s me put firmly in my place. Which is why I’m writing this at the dinner table.

What does it mean when L fills his glass with his cheap and nasty wine (that he amusingly calls his “scacciacugini” wine, literally, “wine brought out to get rid of visiting relatives”), just as M is opening the good bottle of wine we brought from Milan for his father’s birthday? Is this an inter-generational declaration of war, or just bad manners? L has also just turned his nose up at the “moccetta” (local speciality) we bought, saying the that the local supermarket brand is much better. He’s also refused to taste any of the cheese and biscuits I bought back from the UK. M. doesn’t seem to notice or mind any of this. I love that today.

October 16, 2012

drunk in Verona


Just had a lovely meal at the Osteria del Duca. My tagliata with a glass of Barolo, M’s polpette di puledro con patate, the Soave, which I’ve discovered is a place, I appreciated every morsel, even the bread which looked like it was going to be rock hard but was soft and doughy inside. At one point M turned to me, after I’d been explaining something to him, and said “You’re face … looks funny.” I think wine, good wine, sometimes has the same effect as ecstasy. People don’t talk about about the mind-altering qualities of wine. Maybe wine should also be evaluated on the quality of the buzz, as well as the nose, the finish, the usual stuff. Actually, I’m to old to know what I’m talking about with ecstasy, but it sounds right.

Margherita is one of the unfortunates for whom wine is poison, like for mum, S and T. I wonder if they’d respond to ecstacy?