Saturday, 27 February 2016

Confessions of a wine obsessive

I read an article recently by food writer Diana Henry, “Help! I’m the only foodie in the family”, in which she contrasts her love of great food with her partner and children’s more relaxed attitude to it. She plans trips to special restaurants while on holiday, while her husband wonders what’s wrong with the one across the street; one son proclaims that he likes his food “bland, bland, bland”.

I sympathise with Diana’s position and wonder if there is something similar going on in my own family. 

As you might imagine, I find the minutiae of wine infinitely fascinating. My husband likes a glass of wine as much as the next man, and has gratifyingly broad tastes. But he is in no way obsessed with the stuff: his spirit does not instantly lift at the sight of grape vines; he can ask polite questions of winemakers while tasting their wines, but doesn’t feel the need to get to the bottom of exactly what kind of soil the grapes came from, nor the intricacies of the oak ageing regime.

Do I drive my family mad with my non-stop wine monomania? Here is the case for the prosecution.

The wine cupboard is full of inviting-looking bottles, but only I know whence they came and therefore which particular one is suitable for opening tonight.

There is no standing still in the wine world and I am relentless in my pursuit of the new:

Him: This is really nice, why don’t we buy a case of it?
Me: No! We can’t just keep drinking the same thing, what would be the point of that?

I may forget key things on the weekly shopping list, but when it comes to remembering wines I’ve had, my memory is prodigious.

Me: does this wine remind you of anything?
Him: Umm, no.
Me: It’s an Alsace Riesling – we had one very like this at a meal out last year, remember?
Him: (wearing a look of incredulity mixed with blank incomprehension) No.

But would I really like to be married to someone every bit as obsessed with wine as I am? It could get very competitive and, I fear, make us a rather dull couple, with no-one to rein in the endless discussions of fruit character and terroir.

You might think the children of a wine buff would get off lightly, but no.

Camper van actually inside a wine cellar

Holidays are often (OK usually) centred on wine producing areas. On a road trip round France in our camper van, we managed to hit quite a few of them. As we drove through the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I pulled over, clambered out of the van and crouched down among the vines to take pictures of the large pudding stones that cover these famous vineyards.

“What’s mummy doing?”
“Taking pictures of stones.”

Pudding stones in Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards

A mile or so further on, I stop again.
“Mummy, why are you taking MORE pictures of stones?”
“These stones are better.”
The "better" stones

But there is an upside. The other day we (or more probably just I) were chatting about Champagne. I mentioned “Moët” and my 12 year old casually added “et Chandon” as he helped clear the dinner table. That kind of knowledge will never go to waste.

Another upside - ice cold Champagne at Champagne Novack's own campsite

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