Does Rosé Turn You Gay?

Graham Norton’s Own Rosé and Kylie Minogue Rosé.

Britain is a completely normal island littered with people who’ll bark at you their unsolicited opinions on the way you look, act or talk. I grew up hearing a whole bunch of wild shit that’d get me cancelled for repeating online yet sometimes you’ll still hear it blowin’ in the wind.

Kids whose dads used to sucker punch weirdos like me in the back of the head are more progressive now than their fathers. They’ll still call you a name for not dressing like them or having the same haircut, but where daddy shouted, “Queer!” while running away, baby keeps his hands in his pockets and calls you a faggot to your big fat faggoty face.

See, they can’t say queer as an insult anymore because the Qs have owned and normalised it – and power to them. Even so, it feels disrespectful and rude to refer to an L, a G, a B or especially a T as such. I mean, if I were to say, “That person of colour is queer,” I’d have to do it in hillbilly. It just feels way too much like me strutting my raggedy white ass up to a brother and enquiring, “What up, my N-word with an A?”

Let’s not forget when Captain Kirk met Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to escort his ship to peace talks, they both understood that the future was an undiscovered country, and as Gorkon remarked, “If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.”

Perhaps such exploration falls beyond the scope of a wine review. The point I’m poorly making is that for all our inclusivity, we still have a stigma lust – also, that I’m elderly, confused and may well have been drinking for hours. An old friend – a Guardian reader so of course he’s not a bigot – told me off for drinking white wine once because, “It’s a bit gay.” This remains an unironic statement offered freely, by both straight men and women.

But if white wine is gay, then what the hell is Rosé? I mean it’s pink for a start and we still haven’t gotten past that post-war re-education where blue is for boys. Why all the stigmas? We’re all doing it. Nobody talks any more without shouting. Few truly listen, making instead a grandstanding moral theatre of caring. What happened to charitable interpretation? I hate it.

And that was the muddled introduction to another wine review. Welcome, Sir/Madam/Other. Do you remember STAR TREK?

Now, I didn’t pick their names out of a hat: Graham Norton and Kylie Minogue are both cultural giants here in Britain. Also, Phillip Schofield – who used to present 80s Children’s BBC from a broom cupboard with the legendary gopher, Gordon T – does a boxed wine himself but I’m not making a special trip to Waitrose.

Yes, us Brits love our gay icons flogging us goods and services. Make of that what you will.

My local big Tesco stands on the ancient burial ground of one of those brutalist housing estates you’d always avoid walking through at night. Now they have a Costa and a Subway. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Kylie Sauvignon Blanc on the shelves to compare with Graham’s so I had to settle for a bottle each of their Rosé.

No, I didn’t ask a member of staff to check out back. Yes, I’m already regretting this.

Back home with the wine suitably chilled and I’ve just been gazing intently at a photo of Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off. He’s a good-looking guy, right? So why do I feel no stirring in my underpants? We’ll take this resting girth as a control and check my response over the course of the evening.

Right. Let’s open up this bottle of Graham Norton’s Own Rosé. It’s £9.50 but coming from Marlborough you’d expect that. A bad bottle of Kiwi wine is as rare as a bad Kiwi.

For the record, I’ve very little experience with Rosé other than drinking it at barbecues to signal to women I’m not a threat to them. Sticking my nose in first for a good whiff and it absolutely smells good and cold and dry. The first taste is chilled and fruity, not too sweet but dry enough. It’s 12.5% but disarmingly so. You’d drink this quick at a summer barbecue, so behave.

It’s weird how that brief contact with the grape skins makes it neither white, nor red – becoming closer instead to the offspring of an animated Disney cat and dog in a horribly misguided allegory for the acceptance of mixed-race children in a victorious future China. I once knew a woman who’d water down her wine so she could drink more. When I suggested she just drank slower she sneered down her nose at me.

Second glass and it’s gotten a bit tangy now and I remember that Rosé feel of the cold sickly tummy. The trouble with chilled wines is they don’t stay chilled long enough so you’ve got to neck it like you’re thirsty.

If your suggestion is that I pour smaller glasses then picture me sneering down my nose at you.

Twenty minutes at room temperature and it’s like candy water which brings out some acidity. I just had a quick look at Chris Hemsworth coming out of the ocean, water trickling in rivulets down his perfect torso and there was still no response. My head’s gone a bit heavy though so maybe the blood’s up there turning the neurons gay.

Let’s open Charlene Robinson’s bottle now, shall we? Kylie Minogue Rosé – also 2020 and cheaper than Norton’s by 50p per bottle. Lets step back in time to the 80s. Remember how she was in Neighbours, then became the Princess of Pop? She’s surely the face of 80s Australia – though as a kid I liked her sister because I was a precocious child who preferred brunettes. It’ll be nice to compare an Aussie wine with a Kiwi.

Wait, what? Vin de France? Fucking French? I mean, we know Graham Norton is Irish and Ireland isn’t traditionally known for its wine but Australia has heaps of good wine. Urgh, whatever, it’s fine – Kylie’s wines were apparently released to critical acclaim in 2020 and sold a million bottles in less than a year.

Straight out of the fridge with it, off with the screwcap and into the glass.

For a start it smells like nothing, seriously, nothing. Slight peach maybe? Then I’m met with a barrage of aftertastes like an MG-42 firing off tuck shop bubble gum into my tastebuds like they’re British backpackers storming Bondi Beach.

From aniseed to flat Brut and back again, ultimately leaving with a sour acid influx; and yet every sip evolves differently, like a chunky soup where each spoonful is a tragedy. If I was given this in a club, I’d assume someone had spiked it. I’m not fucking about – it seriously tastes that off. It’s like someone threw it up then stuck their tongue down my throat.

Hang on, let me go get something.

Up next in the fridge there’s a Californian white Zinfandel from Barefoot. I remember this brand from Glaswegian off licences. Rosé, basically thick and cherry, apart from a bite at the back of my throat. Alcohol barely noticeable.

It’s not refreshing in the least. It tastes like it came out of an opened carton you found in the back of a friend’s fridge. Oh Jesus, as it warms in my hand it tastes even more of cherry. I’ll struggle to finish this glass. It drips viscous like a syrup down the pipe of the neck and out into my filthy glass, both cold and warm now, a biting taste then back to cordial, sickly and thick.

Back to Minogue. Her example has thickened too as it warmed. This wine has thrown me so hard I’ve forgotten all about Hemsworth. I glance over but sorry, Chris – Kylie’s just ruined the mood. I’m getting bitter flavours that make me instinctively snort like there’s a fly up my nose. Is this a reference to cork hats? Fuck, this wine is meta.

I have another chilled glass. How many is that now? I just want it gone, out of my life – that sounds like a pop song, where’s the violin? Struggling to explain my senses, the word astringent pops into my head but I don’t remember what it means. The dictionary tells me: Sharp and penetrating; pungent or severe, and I nod like a twat then pour another. I don’t like sweet wines but I can’t imagine how anyone who does would like this. This is like a wine for the child-brained who pine for powdered sherbet and Ninja Turtle card gum.

This Rosé is utterly distasteful, brutally sour and vicious as a dog trained to fight. I just can’t understand it, I don’t have the words, it’s relentless. Absolutely steaming from pastis, did a worker fall into the grape crushing machine and no one noticed? Kylie, love – what were you thinking? This is as refreshing as a mouthful of sandy lemons and a slap round the chops.

I need a hug. Look at Hemsworth’s arms, I bet he’s a great hugger. We’d have to get him out of those wet shorts first though.

Seriously though, Rosé isn’t a gateway drug to gayness – it’s just not particularly lovely. Love, however, is lovely and doesn’t care what body parts you have, only that it feels good for you both. There is just one thing manlier than a hot cock and that is the man who takes that hot cock in his hot mouth; and, I ask you, is there anything more feminine than the torrid sapphic joining of two women, eyes and ladyjunk locked in the harmony of fierce passion? Why should it have to be more complicated than live and let live?

Jesus, sorry. I got a bit carried away there. What are we doing again? I’m spinning around on this wine.

Yes, if we’re talking The Loco-Motion then this burp aftertaste would stop a train like a ravine. This chemical trash, Kylie, is relentless in its suck. Thankfully there’s some Norton left, maybe that’ll cleanse my ravaged palate. Water didn’t help at all so I’m swilling Graham Norton like mouthwash trying to get Minogue out of my head and my Christ, it’s honestly as delicious as piss on a jellyfish sting.

With most bad wines you can simply stop drinking and the taste will go away; Kylie Rosé is so sour it’s haunting. I’d honestly have been better off with Paul O’Grady’s hypoallergenic dog food.

I just want my mouth to go back to the way things were but I should be so lucky. I left a review on Tesco’s website but they won’t allow it.

I see that both parties do a red. Graham has a South Australian Shiraz, which are usually a safe bet, while Kylie offers a Pays d’Oc Merlot.

Because God is dead.

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