Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Readers' wines...and star signs

“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill.

It's but a few hours until the general election and if you are still in a quandary as to the various strengths, weaknesses and intentions of the various parties and their leaders, then read on.

The expression “in vino veritas” will be our guide as we examine the character and values of the party leaders through the medium of – what else? - wine. Imagine, if you wilI, Messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg conducting their TV debates with a glass of wine in their hand (and that might have pepped things up a bit), what should it have been?

Gordon Brown – As the PM hails from Scotland, we automatically associate him with scotch whisky. But he doesn't have much of a reputation for drinking of any kind: Chancellora are famously allowed to drink while delivering the budget speech, yet Gordon chose nothing more intoxicating than Scottish mineral water when he was in the role.

Whisky, however, may not be too wide of the mark character-wise as he certainly comes across as a strong, serious dram of a man. Whisky is an essential part of our national heritage, though its uncompromising flavour isn't to everyone's taste - it's a world away from crowd-pleasing, undemanding, sweet and sickly alcopops.

Don’t forget, though, that much of Gordon's perceived dourness comes from his Scots antecedents rather than from his personality. He does have a taste for all things financial; is bossy, but works hard, particularly for the under-dog. If you give any credence to that kind of thing, Mr Brown's astrological sign is Pisces: a romantic, emotional water sign, which is a bit of a surprise, based on what we know – still waters run deep perhaps?

Taking all these factors into account, the PM should be attracted to the profound flavours of a red wine that appears light and straightforward, but has undercurrents and hidden complexities, with a long finish. Wines made from pinot noir encapsulate these qualities perfectly, so Gordon should get on fine with Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, from the Mount Difficulty winery (a neat reminder of the mountain to climb perhaps?) in New Zealand. Majestic have it for £14.99 if you buy 2 bottles (£17.49 normally). Despite the name, drinking this perfumed, silky wine would be a pleasure, not a LABOUR of love.

David Cameron – Middle England, dimple-cheeked pin-up, the sort of chap that Sloane Rangers (remember them?) would choose as the RIGHT chap to have on one's arm at a black tie dinner and to take home to meet Daddy. His is the perfect profile for the diplomatic service: suave, compliant, over substance? He is a typical Libran in that he encapsulates all this along with a desire for a balanced lifestyle. This is perhaps why his policies never seem to stay quite still. He would like everyone to have the perfect life – it is how to achieve this that could be a problem. As an air sign his preferences for wine would be reflected in something light and bubbly but, we must hope, with some intellectual backbone. Dave got himself into hot water being caught on camera quaffing Champagne on the eve of George Osborn's austerity speech last year, so he should stick with the popular budget choice of Prosecco. Marca Oro Prosecco at Sainsbury's for £6.99 should strike a suitably happy-go-lucky note, with enough zing and verve to enliven even a CONSERVATIVE party!

Nick Clegg – He started out as the Third Man, practically the Invisible Man, of the election campaign, but his apparent triumph in the first TV debate has brought him to the forefront of our minds. Yet what do we really know about the man who holds an increasingly important and pivotal position politically as the possibility of a coalition government looms? He has a very interesting and cosmopolitan background, his father half Russian, his mother Dutch and his wife Spanish. But of course what we all know about him is his boast (or confession?) that he had had “no more than thirty” lovers before marrying. It's always the quiet ones isn't it?

His persona and appearance are completely at odds with the beards and anoraks image of the party he leads. He is besuited and business orientated rather than otherworldly or bookish: an expression of his Capricornian star sign, the down to earth but upwardly mobile grafters of the zodiac, perhaps? Or is it just that, with his, ahem, romantic history, he is also a bit of an old goat? With such a mixed heritage and lifestyle his wine character, like his politics, could go anywhere. However, taking into account his earthy influences, his ambition and his predilections the thought of a “hung” parliament could definitely work in his favour...

A sensuous, earthy but sophisticated, red with Euro credentials such as Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007, £24.99 from Waitrose is a reassuringly exspensive choice. A fabulous wine with a hint of wild spice that should be quaffed LIBERALly and DEMOCRATically.

“Don’t believe a word, for words are only spoken. Your heart is like that promise, made to be broken”. Thin Lizzy, 1976

Now that everything is as clear as “must” - the mud of the wine world - we hope that the choices in wine will help to clarify and cut to the chase through all the waffle and political posturing. Judge a man by what he drinks, how he drinks and who he drinks with, is our axiom and thought for the day.

“Politics” is made up of two words “poli” which is Greek for “many, and “tics” which are blood-sucking insects”. Gore Vidal

Wine and Sculpture at Birtley House, Bramley.
Heather Dougherty and Heather Aitken will be entertaining and educating guests into the wonderful world of wine at a charity event and dinner in aid of the Surrey Community Foundation on Saturday 15th May at Birtley House, Bramley. We would love to meet you there, come and join the fun.

Tickets priced £35 available from 01483 892055 or email;

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