In my defence, I really liked learning stuff. Even now, as I stare down middle age with an arched eyebrow, I’m thrilled to the core when I acquire a new skill or bother to look up a word that I’ve been meaning to for a long time. Like pedagogical. It’s only taken me about 19 years to look that word up. In fact, I’ve just done it now, thanks to the Google. Apparently, it relates to teaching. Funny that.
This year, rather than make a load of New Year’s resolutions which will simply result in spectacular failure and self loathing by January 8th, throughout 2018 I think I’m going to attempt extending my knowledge on a range of subjects that have always intrigued me. Starting with a favourite subject of mine: wine.
It’s no secret that I’m an enthusiastic consumer, but I am by no means a connoisseur. I am eager, but ignorant. Sod the pretension and just hand me a glass will you? Or a mug. I’m not fussy. White, rose, red, turps, whatever. I’ll have a large glass, thanks. In fact, I’ll have a box. I’m crap at recycling, so perhaps it’s best that I attempt to save the Earth one box of wine at a time.
Once upon a piss-up ago, I thought it might be a novel idea to go wine tasting, but then someone told me what it involved and I was utterly horrified. You basically pay a ridiculous amount of money to sniff a thimble of the good stuff, swill it around your cake-hole and then - inexplicably - spit it out before saying pretentious shit like: ‘Ooh yes, a well-constructed bouquet! I can detect oaky notes, truffle, the armpit of a dead tramp, vibrant berries and a hint of stale vagina.’ All this to the sonic backdrop of some outlandish operatic aria that threatens to shatter the glass I'm holding incorrectly. I’m more likely to say something like, ‘You can tell it’s cheap, it tastes like bastard Sarsons!’ and then drink it anyway. And then go back for more.
And can I just go back to the whole SPITTING IT OUT thing? Why would you do that? Is that not a bit like bulimia for piss heads? Surely the point is to swallow it and then feel all dreamy-smooth moments later? The only thing that makes me want to spit my current mouthful out is the ridiculous serving suggestion on the label which encourages me to ‘Enjoy [it] with steak or in front of a roaring fire.’ Oh, do piss off. What’s wrong with downing it at the kitchen sink, one shoe on, one shoe off, just moments after arriving home from work?
Oh, and that’s another thing: in terms of its consumption, I’m not a good sipper of wine. In fact, I’m more of a parched chugger. As I write, I am merrily throwing a nice 2016 Shiraz down myself. I have no idea what that means, by the way, I’m just reading the label with squinty eyes. It might have something to do with the grape, but I’m not sure. Just like my arse from elbow, I am largely unable to discern my claret from my Beaujolais or my Semillon from my Moscato. I am able to recognise a large pinot at twenty paces, though. Oh yes, indeed.
On reflection, I’m not sure this wine-knowledge is going to work. I mean, you can take the lad out of Bestwood Village, but alas, not the Bestwood Village from the lad. Irrespective of what nuggets of information I dig up regarding any variety of vino, I’ll probably just continue to do what I always do when it comes to selecting a bottle. ie. Plumping for what seems to be a good deal in whatever shop I’m in. Three quid off my favourite? Oh, yes please! Two bottles for nine quid? Go on then! Free membership to the Desperately Seeking Cirrhosis club? Lovely.