You ever feel like you’re living the radio edit of your life?
I’d joined up to another one of those lockdown wine subscription things on a trial and funnily enough – considering how a friend is planning on moving there – it turned out to be Romania month.
The most recent of these advent calendars for day drinkers I tried was a batch of off-putting whites, all dryer than a Danish girl’s knickers at a poetry reading. I was hoping for more from an ancient winemaking culture born of a land rich with forests, mountains and spirits of preternatural flesh.
Well, with the first bottle decanted, Cozy Down Now, started off unremarkable yet promising so I opened it up in my hand and as it breathed I drank until it developed into the definite plum of an unremarkable upmarket supermarket Merlot good enough to drink alone but not one to pair with anyone who needs a decent bottle in order to join you down another rabbit hole into the right kind of trouble. It was a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Feteasca Neagra (Black Maiden) – a dark Romanian/Moldovan grape of which I am unfamiliar and doubt will ever make the effort to encounter again.
In the industry, we call this, ‘foreshadowing.’
The second, another Merlot called Life’s a Pudding Full of Plums and hooray for you if you want your existence to be but a bottle of Merlot where the label is more creative than the contents. It’s got that smell again – you know the one – flat and weak but with no real aftertaste. Neither of these have been the least bit dry and this is simply wishy washy, almost like cordial; no kick of alcohol to overpower but at 13.5% it’ll knock out any curious child who mistakes it for Ribena.
It was only when I remembered to read the label rather than marvel at it that I learnt this was also a blend with – you guessed it – Black Maiden.
And what an underwhelming pay off.
I drank these leisurely, went to bed at five and slept til eleven or so, waking with no discernable hangover. No night terrors – just the lucid fever of a typical technicolour mindfuck.
I shared a light lunch of eggs on toast and olives with the dog then took him out for a shit. I could tell he wanted to play or go explore but I had a job to do so gave him his medicine along with one of those biscuits he likes – which is all of them.
The third – and last – bottle smelt nice immediately. A Cabernet Sauvignon named Ciocârlie – which is a native songbird associated with love. This one didn’t sing, so much as gasp for air as its lungs filled with fluid. Yes, forgetting it had feathers, this egg threw itself off a pier in lament of a love unrequited. A death tasteless and watery as the grave in my hand.
Well-balanced is another way of saying nothing stands out.
Maybe because it was bottled in the UK, the Romanian romance fled like a startled genie, abandoning its promise to the red, left only to clean off the British sadness from the inside of the screw-cap bottle. It’s inoffensive, and certainly the better of the three, but it leaves me thirsty for a thick Malbec or Rioja.
Oh, Christ. Maybe I should read bottles before drinking them. This Cab Sauv also has Novac and Negru de Drăgășani grapes – well lah-de-dah! Another blend. Am I a philistine for imagining that blended means they just dumped the leftovers in a barrel and flogged it to us dickheads? The winemaking equivalent of the specials menu?
I’m finishing off the third bottle now. I did catch a few fruit flies with both the first and third – I think I just swallowed the last – but, to be fair, those wee bastards always seem to prefer the good stuff, so maybe they’re the better reviewer here.
I remember reading that due to taxes and math goblins or whatever, if you spend a fiver on a bottle, the wine itself is worth just a tenth of that – spend a tenner and the wine is six times that quality. These wines go for about a tenner each.
I just checked with the math goblins and the best wine is one that improves your mental health.
This selection of Romanian wine came with a cute airplane magazine called Glug so I was going to end with the comment, “Glug? More like gulag,” but that would be incredibly mean-spirited, unfair and downright insensitive. These wines just weren’t for me.
I’ve always found new world wines to just be better. As a pleb, French wine is only affordably drinkable in France; and I am inclined to shy away from Merlots and Cab Sauvs unless it’s the cheapest bottle in the gas station at one in the morning and my date and me just need something to keep the Rosé tinted wine goggles fogged up long enough to cop off without throwing up.
Yes, they’ve all been perfectly adequate, but this last one now finished, just another Cab Sauv in a thousand, I’m thinking mundane and middling and not nearly mercurial enough.
Speaking of which, on the playlist, Freddie is, Living on My Own, now.
If you’d blindfolded me and had me taste these reds against the box of whites I had a couple of months ago, at room temperature, I’d have guessed the reds were white and the whites red. It’s upside-down land. Nothing is good or makes sense anymore. Turn off the Large Hardon Collider.
Speaking of mental health, when our cup runneth over with floods of disappointment, perhaps it’s time to scupper our expectations – or maybe it’s just time to stop drinking fucking Merlot.