Gentle reader, it may shock you to learn that this column has recently shipped some brutal criticism. The author of such ill-informed nitpicking was, it shames me to report, none other than my own dear brother, the renowned academic, Edmund Gleug.
Edmund is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in developing sound business practices and, in particular, his ground-breaking handbook for employers- Sound Business Practices: How To Engineer A Happier, More Productive Workplace- in which he famously created the first ‘Feedback Sandwich’.
Allow me to elucidate. When delivering ‘developmental’ or, in layman’s terms, negative feedback, Edmund advocates that, in order to elicit a positive response and maintain cordial relations with the feckless workabee, bosses ought to frame their criticism in a positive manner, possibly by sandwiching the request for improvement between two compliments. You can imagine my shock, therefore, when having invited Edmund to my lovely home, Rose Cottage, for a sumptuous supper and an evening of footie (Come on, Argentina!), I heard him declare: “Raymond, I find your weekly wine column hugely enjoyable and, while it’s perhaps a tad formulaic and predictable, it is nonetheless most entertaining, informative and an invaluable aid when choosing one’s weekend wine.”
“Predictable and formulaic?” I snappily enquired, while sipping a glass of today’s WINE OF THE WEEK, the gloriously refreshing, delicate and deliciously dry 2013 Chevalier de Fauvert Sauvignon Blanc (£4.29 at Lidl) and wondering whether my hotshot brother was deriving the same degree of pleasure as myself from its grassy, herbaceous aromatics, its zesty, citrussy palate and the clean, tingly finish with its intriguing mineral notes. We enjoyed ours with a warm chicken and coriander salad.
“Well, yes,” Edmund replied, “nice wine, by the way. You generally outline your theme or story, tenuously connect it to a couple of wines you wish to recommend and then round it all off with some profound insight, witty wisecrack or pleasing dénouement to the week’s events.” We finished the bottle in stony silence, after which I suggested to Edmund that he leave, feigning tiredness and injured pride.
Having finally got rid of the pompous oaf, I opened a bottle of the lively, fragrant and ferociously crisp 2012 Tesco Finest Cotes du Gascogne (£7.99) with my beloved wife, the formidable Madame G. “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” went the toast. Pleasing notes of grapefruit and melon dominated the complex palate of this elegant, French white . As I luxuriated in its graceful and sophisticated charms which proved a sublime accompaniment to my crackers, gorgonzola, strawberries and black olives, I wondered what tenuous connection I might draw so as to link it with the theme of this week’s column.
Alas, such a task is, I fear, beyond this humble hack’s compass. For there is, you see, a strict formula to be adhered to and no-one understands better than you, gentle reader, that it would never do to stray too far outside your entirely reasonable, if somewhat predictable, expectations. Till next week, tipplers, sante!