This is the last night of my holiday, my final day having been spent at a soft play centre 40 minutes’ drive away while rain teemed down outside. This is what parenthood brings you. Sure, there’s fulfilment and laughter and moments of pure joy, but there are also a million frustrating bathtimes, an enormous amount of clearing up and many, many days spent doing things that only make you happy because of the way they don’t make the people who could make you unhappy unhappy.
The CF brood are here with my in-laws, my brother-in-law, his wife and their little son. I’ve been lucky enough to marry into a family with which I am genuinely happy to holiday, but none of them care much for their wine. Thus we have subsisted on a diet of supermarket-sourced plonk, with many bottles of my traditional French summer standbys of Muscadet (sur lie, importantly) and Picpoul picked up for something in the region of €3 a bottle and duly dispatched.
And while it’s felt rather like a wasted opportunity – last summer I discovered a brilliant local wine shop and drank genuinely interesting stuff with great regularity – it’s also been, well, OK. Part of being a wine geek is finding wines that will excite and challenge you, but part of it is choosing the right kind of wine for the company you’re in. Would I have liked to have enjoyed a fortnight of vinous thrills? Undoubtedly, but not if it would have alienated everyone who shared my dinner table. There’s a time for wines that are just good enough for everyone present to enjoy but not so good that anyone feels glum about just glugging them. I think I’ve got that pretty right this time.
And by way of consolation I sneaked into a wine shop (my first of the trip) this afternoon and snagged a couple of more interesting bottles that will be appearing in my suitcase, my stemware and on here, in that order, soon.