Sober October?

Yes, that is a Brexit 50p.


If you’ve seen the news you’ll have learned that Britain is only ever a gallon of petrol and a wiped arse away from barbarism.

Due to a baffling shortage of workers, we’ve got soldiers on the streets delivering fuel to petrol stations – it’s a presence that will hopefully have women at last feeling safe from the police.

In what is hopefully the tail end of a pandemic reported to have killed almost 160,000 in the UK – not including the terrifying number of excess deaths – it’s still hard to watch global news and imagine the past eighteen months were anything other than dinner and cocktails before life takes us home and stealth fucks us over the dirty dishes in the sink.

So I went to Asda. Back to the performance art of masked shopping among the maskless.

I was thinking it may have been unfair to treat Romanian wine as if it was their revenge for throwing them and a million other foreigners out of the country. I found a Fetească Regală (Royal Maiden) – which is another grape native to the country – so grabbed it in giddy expectation.

To compare, I have a South African Sauvignon Blanc and two Italian Spumantes.

The Fetească Regală is properly chilled. Tasting notes? Fine. A little too on the sweet side of dry enough. A wine for weddings rather than romance. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but is this suddenly bitter too? It’s hard to concentrate as the bearings have gone on one of the fans of my graphics card and the only thing that managed to drown it out today was when the neighbour opposite had his skip collected.

Anyway, yes; it’s fresh, this wine. It’s growing on me. I’m not huge into very dry whites either, you have to find a balance. This one is and crisp and fruity. I don’t know what else to tell you. The label said to pair it with rice salads, Asian dishes and stir-fries – which is both specific and wildly vague – but I’ve never paired a wine to a dish in my life and this is not the bottle to start a trend.

My aunt once told me we’re of Romanian descent on her side of the family. Jewish or Gypsy depending on how many sips of Baileys she’d managed to sneak past her – now ex – husband (a crude, pompous bully too dumb even to pass the police exam.) I never got any more information than that. We don’t really talk much in my family – and yet here’s me always oversharing.

Hmmn, halfway through my second big glass and it’s gotten a bit sickly. Reckon I’ll switch after this one. I am however starting to question my life choices. Why write these? It feels like listening to my weekend dad repeat tall tale humdingers when he’d rather be down the pub playing darts.

And here I am, just doing drink reviews while environmental activists are glueing themselves to the motorway in front of ambulances during a pandemic, in the noble yet misguided belief that better home insulation will keep the climate from killing us. Someone needs to tell those poor bastards that you can’t dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools. We’re like a dog when his toy ends up under the sofa – we need someone smarter than us to come up with a solution to this disaster. Will it be AI or will it be ET? Maybe they’ll both come to the same inevitable conclusion they often do in science fiction – that the most efficient way to save Earth’s current environment is to eradicate the industrial apes.

ALCOHOL ABUSE IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH screams the back of the label of South African Sauvignon Blanc but then there are also reports that moderate consumption of alcohol hinders viral infection so let’s crack open this Laborie and go lick some doorknobs.

Vintage 2021? There are people who’ve been stuck in their homes longer than this wine has been in the bottle.

I eventually made the effort to get into white wine on the recommendation of an ex in Edinburgh because all else she drank was cocktails and I’m not made of money. Friends have bullied me for it but fuck ’em. Never apologise for the Pinot Grigio you’re enjoying with dinner and never apologise for who you are – down that glass, order something sparkling and dazzle the bar with your beautiful singing voice.

This Sauvignon Blanc here might not be to everyone’s taste. Properly chilled and just okay but after a slice of peppered salami it loses its flavour entirely and becomes merely a delivery system for the alcohol.

Seriously though, it’s a little bitter yet, fruity, dry. Whatever. Nothing special. I find a good white develops flavours as it warms in the same way a red does as it breaths. This is bus wine to share with the one. Oh my god, is this satire?

Speaking of sparkling, that’s what Spumante means in Italian. Yes, I had to look it up.

So, this first bottle of Vino Spumante smells good – Pinot and Chardonnay are always a good mix with sparkling. Champagne is overrated and I remember Brut gives me a headache something fierce but that may have had more to do with the setting (windy beach) and the company (Catholic).

It’s delicious, light and cold and dry, even if I am enjoying it alone like a fat bridesmaid. You appreciate a white different than you do a red – compare an ice cream to a hot dog; compare passionate lovemaking with seeing your nemesis fail in his endeavours. All these things are good and decent but equality of the senses is impossible, our feeling parts are subjective – oh shit, the bubbles just hit me. Seriously.

I bought this in Lidl. Seriously.

I’ve opened the second Spumante. Priogrigio it’s called and Extra Dry. This one is from Asda and also cost a fiver. It’s lighter, not as nicely carbonated. It doesn’t say Brut on the label but I think I’m beginning to realise that it’s a particular Brut or dryness that jabs its throbbing electric stiletto into your temple.

Five minutes later – it could be ten for all I know – and everything had been looking up until this swill darkened my doorknob and gave my brain a knock. There’s a nip in the air too. Maybe I should put some thicker socks on – I’m not a young man anymore. When I was kid, I remember fifty pence pieces getting stuck in the cut corks of sparkling wines. My nan told me it was for good luck.

Not sure if that’s a Jewish or a Gypsy thing.

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