Are answers at the bottom of the bottle?

I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching recently.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 6:00 am
An occasional tipple with Raymond Gleug

Milestone birthdays have that effect. And though there’s still a year and a bit to go, the dread is already kicking in. Also, I read a book recently which reminded me that, like everyone else, I am going to die. I’d always suspected unfortunate outcome to my life and naturally had preferred not to think about it too much. I mean, it couldn’t really happen to me, the great bon viveur and connoisseur, Raymond Gleug, could it?

Surely, my fate was to reside here at my lovely home, Rose Cottage, with my beloved wife, the enigmatic Madame G., sampling wonderful wine and checking in with you guys once a week in perpetuity. Wasn’t it?

Apparently not. So perhaps the time has come to start planning for the other possibility. Not the will or even the music at the funeral ceremony - Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, please - but the spiritual stuff. Initially, it was difficult for me to locate a soul to scrutinise beneath my looking-glass but after an intensive period of meditation I can proudly declare that there is indeed one inside here. Let’s crack open a bottle to celebrate! The wine seems certain to help the contemplative process.

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Now I don’t want to drag you down, dear tipplers, and I’m certainly in no position to preach to you, so I suggest you also pour yourselves a glass of today’s Wine of the Week, the elegant, seductive, slow-drinking 2019 Calvet Prestige Bordeaux (Tesco, £8.50) while I share the fruits of my metaphysical musings. But first, the wine. Mellow, well-rounded and firmly balanced, this graceful, savoury drop teems with ripe black fruit and cherry flavours which mingle alongside notes of cedar wood and delicate hints of tobacco and spice. One for a Sunday roast of beef or lamb.

Alas, the bottle runs dry...what a metaphor! What then, sings Plato’s ghost, what then? Well, the sad truth is we live in a terrible world which science tells us is doomed to die and we’re doing everything we can to accelerate the process. You see, few people truly believe in God, a soul or an afterlife and rarely stop to notice how rather than being a self-contained entity within a society of competing individuals, we’re all interconnected and interdependent. This results in short-term, selfish thinking. A disregard for the consequences of our actions and lack of empathy for the sufferings of others inevitably brings us ecological disaster, war, famine and other bad stuff including pandemics. But they say drink makes you forget all this and I seem to have forgotten my promise not to pontificate. Time for another bottle, tipplers.

Let’s soften the blows with the gently honeyed and fruity 2020 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier (£7.50, Sainsbury’s). A aromatic bouquet leads to a lively, just off-dry palate that is full of citrus, apricot and melon flavours. You could certainly enjoy it with seafood or salads though I preferred mine with my Madame’s delectable, deftly spiced chicken saag aloo.

Heavy stuff, this mortality carry-on, hey? But, fear not, physical death doesn’t necessarily mean spiritual death. Though it may do. I mean, once a bottle is empty, the party’s over. Unless you can find another one... Anyway, it can’t do any harm to contemplate one’s death once in a while and draw one’s own conclusions. Can it? Forewarned is forearmed, they say. In the meantime, it’s a really tough world out there and we endure a hard life with a very daunting conclusion further down the road so I suppose we really should try to be as nice to each other as possible. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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