‘I thought we were all pretending, because who the hell pays that much for wine?’
By that, I don’t mean that I go around sucking gravel like a grouper as my friend’s fish, Big Jim, is wont to do. Nor do I keep my kisser pressed up close to the bahookies of my nearest and dearest or, for that matter, my colleagues. I think my bosses would probably be the first to confirm that.
I didn’t even realise I was a bottom feeder until last week, when it was – with great hilarity – pointed out to me. To explain. I was at a wine tasting event where we all tried to pretend that we regularly drank wine costing upwards of £30 a bottle. (“Oh yes, yes, I always go for the Chablis myself, I find the Chardonnay to be so over-rated, don’t you?”)
Or rather, I thought we were all pretending, because, you know – who the hell pays that much for wine?
I have to assume that they all do, since I was the only one who – under closer questioning – would cough to buying cheap wine. In fact, I pretty much only ever buy wine from the lowest shelf in the supermarket. You know, from those great wine-making nations that really should limit themselves to Eurovision entries. Countries like Latvia and Albania.
I tend to go with the thought, “just how bad can it be”? If you’re handed a glass of particularly awful wine at a party then your only recourse, really, is just to neck it as quickly as humanly possible. Although, that never ends well, does it? Because if the wine’s that bad, you’ve got to assume that there won’t be any decent food to soak up the alcohol. At least if you buy the rubbish yourself, you can improvise and chuck it into your summer sangria or punch. In winter, you’re able to smother it with the taste of cloves and spices and make mulled wine. No-one in their right mind would waste good wine on that, surely?
The bottom shelves are also home to that ever popular standby – the wine box. I’ve always been quite fond of a wine box – especially since my ever classy sister-in-law showed me her secret for wringing an extra glass or two out of them. Prior to that little revelation, I just assumed that she sucked the wine out, which was why she had her lips around the tap. My dear old grandmother, however, couldn’t be convinced of them. Like screwtops, they were unbearably common and not to be entertained.
On being given one to try out, she took it through to the kitchen, brushing aside all offers of help. She wasn’t stupid, she said, she could easily work it out for herself thank you very much.
After some time, she reappeared with two glasses of wine. Quite passable wine as I recall. “See,” we said, “quite nice wine really. Would you like us to get you some more?” “Oh, I don’t think so,” she said. “It took me ages to get into that box, and then I spilled half the wine when I poured it out. It’s far too much of a palaver for me to bother with it again.” We couldn’t imagine what had been so difficult, until we saw what she’d done. She had opened up the box, taken out the wine and, entirely overlooking the tap, had cut the top off the bag. All the more for the Sangria.