The photo you see above this column does me no justice. It’s not a bad snap but it’s been cut to such a small size that it’s doesn’t give a really accurate picture of who I am.
A larger shot would reveal to you that I’m an unusually handsome man with a hugely impressive head of red hair and a big, bushy, red beard.
I say this not out of idle boastfulness but to share with you the sense of alarm I felt upon learning that people like me, beautiful red-haired people, might soon be eradicated as a result of global warming. Red hair, which is so common here and is the envy of many, is an evolutionary response to the fact that we don’t get enough sun and need all the Vitamin D we can get. As our climate becomes less cloudy and more sunny, the fear is that the regressive ‘red’ gene is slowly dying out.
The fact that this process may take hundreds of years doesn’t lessen my sadness. Today lots of you will watch or participate in the many parades that traditionally happen at this time of year because it’s your culture, your heritage and it’s part of who you are. And you’d be upset if you learned that this was under threat. Well, that’s how I feel about our red hair.
Thankfully, there’s no known threat to red wine just yet so I’ve been consoling myself with a glass or three of today’s WINE OF THE WEEK, the rich, mellow and delicately spiced 2011 Cepa Lebrel Rioja Crianza (Lidl, £5.99). Muscular, ripe red fruit flavours rub shoulders with black pepper and subtle strands of vanilla before a lingering, oaky finish. Enjoy with lamb chops or game.
Of course, while that awful sun shines and destroys our red-headed identity, many of you will prefer something white. The vibrantly aromatic 2013 A-Mano Fiano-Greco (£7.95 from the Wine Society, visit www.thewinesociety.com or telephone 01438-741177) has an explosively floral nose while delicate peach, apricot and rose flavours mingle pleasingly on its complex, intriguing palate. This superb, gloriously refreshing Italian drop is a perfect match for grilled fish and fresh vegetables.
Enjoy your wine this weekend and if anyone tries to ridicule your culture or make fun of your ginger hair, remember this: it is old and it is beautiful. As a colour, it is very fine. Till next week, tipplers, sante!