I’m not aware of an immediate or obvious link between wine and football, unless
a) you happen to be Sir Alex Ferguson who apparently knows his stuff (coming in for some stinging snobbery last year courtesy of the Telegraph)
b) you’re a Russian oligarch in which case you are vying with the Chinese for control of the Bordeaux vineyards
But after my most recent bottle of wine and with the culmination of the English domestic leagues fast approaching – the Manchester derby on Tuesday and Southampton making an emotional return to the top-flight after 7 years – the two subjects seem apposite. Well, I’m giving it a go anyway…
As a newly relegated single man (only by virtue of a trip to the UK by my wife) I was angsty about spending the weekend on my own. I’d trawled the malls, contributed to global capitalism, solo-lunched, and bitched off my local climbing gym. I was very definitely Will Freeman from Nick Hornby’s About a Boy, but without the massive bank balance.
The rest of the weekend stretched out before me like a runway and my mind turned to wine. So I consulted the internet’s Magic 8-Ball, twitter….
Me: Its [sic] naughty to have a bottle of wine in on one’s own whilst the wife is away isn’t it….
To which, blogger Paola Tich, aka SipSwooshSpit replied
SSS: erm, why?
Me: whole bottle, middle class slide into alcoholism and all that…
SSS: you don’t have to finish it. Just seal it well and stick it in the fridge for the next day
Me: Myers-Briggs says I’m a ‘Completer-Finisher’
SSS: but the test doesn’t specify a time frame 🙂
Me: You make a compelling argument in favour. My deli has a new chill room that is calling
…and off I pootled, merrily entering the air-conditioned heaven of the chill room to pick out a white to go with a dinner of instant noodles.
Having decided early on to continue sampling every affordable Riesling available I chanced upon this 2008 Riesling from Northern Califorinian producer Wenger… sorry Wente – from the other side of Monterey bay from Ridge (which needs no introduction for its age-worthy Bordeaux-like reds and ancient Zinfandels).
Northern California – cool climate, breezy, fresh, but also warm. From its age I knew this wouldn’t be a crisp, minerally, fresh and zingy Riesling, but would be more mature, medium-bodied, welcoming, full and perhaps complex. The packaging certainly doesn’t shout ‘quality’ does it? But it’s increasingly hard to tell these days…
It was an almost spectacular fail.
The wine was cloying, off-dry approaching sweet, with only a whiff of acidity. There was some cinnamon spice, red apple crumble and… and…. something altogether floral and distinctly un-Riesling like. Dismissing my initial assessment and label-snobbery I poured another as Mitchell & Webb entertained me in Season 2 of Peep Show.
Try as I might, I really really didn’t like it. It was all wrong.
Consulting Johnson & Robinson’s The World Atlas of Wine, I read that Monterey was given over to mass agricultural production, and it seems that grapes are an overproduced commodity crop there. Looking online to see if the wine had been reviewed, I found to my horror that the packaging was a naked LIE. This wine is actually one quarter Gewurztraminer, yet this wasn’t spelled out anywhere on the bottle*….
I felt cheated. It was like buying a ticket to watch Arsenal’s graceful and artistic (yet sometimes flawed) game and belatedly realising that Arsene had picked Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Scott Parker to his First XI. Unsettled, angry and out of pocket is how I felt (well, anger is going a bit far). More to the point my solo ‘boy’s night in’ was suddenly looking very average.
Paola’s sage advice unheeded, the bottle languishes in the fridge, unsealed, unloved and undrinkable.
Shame on you, Wenger.
* I’ve since been reminded that Californian varietally-labelled wine only requires 75% of that particular grape variety, and they don’t have to disclose what goes into the blend.