I’ve been living on scraps lately. I have a natural hoarding instinct. When I’m handed a plate of food, I’ll always leave the bits I don’t like, eat the bits I least like first and leave my favourite stuff until last. So it is with wine. I order a case of wine, the bulk of which usually costs a fiver or thereabouts, with a couple of bottles that might cost three times that. But then I drink the cheap stuff and then, finding my wine rack a little bare, order another case of extremely similar composition. So what I end up with is a lot of nice bottles of wine that I don’t really drink.
Today, though, I’ve opened a good ‘un. It’s been a long day, involving work, childcare and, I’ll admit, a little watching of tennis. The kids didn’t nap simultaneously – indeed one of them didn’t nap at all – so there was no pleasant middle-of-the-day downtime. Rachel and I are tired and a little bit ratty, and just had something of a minor falling out after I vetoed America’s Next Top Model, probably her favourite TV programme and almost certainly my least favourite. I know marriage is all about little compromises, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
So when I raided the wine cabinet, I was minded to give myself a treat. And I did. This costs a few pence short of £20 at Waitrose, or £15 in one of their occasional and delightful 25% off everything online sales, and is thus one of the most highly-valued wines in my little collection. At last week’s gigantic and excellent Bibendum tasting, which I haven’t written up yet but will soon promise, I conducted by and for myself an impromptu tasting of pinots, taking in Australia, New Zealand, America and Burgundy (and won, quite against my own expectations, by a Californian, the Marmesa Santa Lucia Highlands PN 2007). None of the Kiwi pinots I tasted there was a match for this one. Some can be a little watery, a bit too light-bodied, and while they could still go down very nicely on a summer’s day and after a couple of hours in the fridge, they’re not a match for me, in a mild funk, on a chilly January evening. This, though, looks serious. It is deep, dark, inky, not at all translucent away from the outermost edge. It smells of earth and capsicum compote. It tastes of plums and damsons and cherries and red cabbage. It is a little wild, a little angry. It is the right wine for me right now.
I am happy.