I know some people consider me to be a bit of a whinger, and they might even be justified in thinking that, but I think my whining might well be justified. Read on and see what you think.
I am somewhat of a wine lover, but I really wouldn’t know the difference between a Chateau Lafitte ’22 and a Cabernet Sauvignon Plonk de Plonk. I do not sniff the cork or, indeed, the wine itself, I do not swill it around in the glass before taking a sip and again swilling it around in my mouth.
No, I am a Philistine. Utterly and irredeemably so.
To my mind, what there is of it, wine is for drinking, what?
And according to protocol, neither fish nor fowl should ever touch my lips, for I do not imbibe white wine. I am, in fact, doomed to a life of red meat in public places, and surreptitious consumption of fish and, or, fowl in private, where I can embarrass no one.
To my not so educated mind, a lot can be judged about a wine by the quality of the printing on the box; the better the printing, the better the picture, and the better the wine. Obviously.
A bottle has such limited space on its label, that it is obviously not possible to depict so many people having such a wonderful time in the vineyards, or indeed depict the farm on which it grew, mountains and all.
One of my other pet peeves, culture vulture that I am, is that I cannot abide cheeses that seem to have, and probably do have, more culture and, in fact life, than I do. So, wine is fine, cheese and wine is not, and I cannot see why a perfectly good wine should be sullied by the addition of malodorous cheeses.
And to the true cheese lover, it would seem, the more malodorous, the better.
When a cheese is competing with a mineworker’s socks for odour, I am not about to put that cheese into my mouth. No I am a lover of Cheddar and Gouda and Melrose wedges, and they do not go too well with any wine I can think of offhand, except perhaps a half-gallon jug of Tassies.
Wine critics and wine lovers often put me in mind of the Monty Python sketch regarding Australian wines, you know……”Chateau Regurgité Wogga Wogga has a bouquet like an aborigine’s armpit and is a must for emitic fans. This wine should definitely be drunk lying down. “
So, I suppose that I, and those of similar ilk, will forever be consigned to the scrap heap of good taste, with our boxes of wine, our well-charred braai and a half-gallon jug of Lieberstein with which to wash it down. Unless, of course, we have company, in which case we need a one-gallon jug of Lieberstein.
I think that the following illustration best sums up all I’m trying to say here.
Many years ago, before the introduction of television into South Africa, I went to movies on a Friday night, as was my wont, and was treated to a marvel of cinema advertising that still ranks with the best I have ever seen.
Picture the scene if you will: a restaurant, obviously five star, with a long canopy covering the red carpet and a doorman in maroon uniform with gold epaulettes.
A very smartly dressed and beautifully turned out young couple arrive at the restaurant in their Rolls Royce, and the doorman rushes out to open the door for the lady. She gets out, a truly beautiful and sophisticated woman, and her partner gets out and gives the keys of his Rolls to a valet, who then whisks the car off to wherever it is that valets whisk cars.
The headwaiter virtually bows our young couple to their table and clicks his fingers for the wine steward, who obsequiously brings the wine list across to our young couple.
The gentleman, for that is what he is, says to the wine steward, “I’ll leave the decision in your hands, my good man.” And the steward almost glows with pleasure. If he’d had a tail, I’m sure he would have wagged it.
He returns after a few moments and presents his choice to them, wrapped, of course, in a napkin….Lieberstein! And a gypsy violinist sidles up behind him and starts playing the Lieberstein jingle.
So, if smart restaurants like that can serve, nay recommend! Lieberstein, how then can I be called a Philistine for imbibing boxed wine and eating Melrose cheese?
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