Coping with what may be the last of the summer wine

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful occasions in life.

By An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 25th September 2021, 6:00 am

Other such examples include marriage, divorce, childbirth, bereavement, a change of profession or, if you can still remember it, the transition from primary to secondary school and onwards to university.

What do all these things have in common? Think, Dougal, think! Well, tipplers, you’re much smarter than Dougal, so you’ll all be saying: “it’s a change in archetype, isn’t it? Now, can I have a P please, Bob?”

And, of course, you’re correct. Once you were single, now you are committed. Once you were a child, now you’ŗe a grown-up. Once you were a renter, free to flee and travel the world at the drop of a hat. Now you kind of partly own the home and must stay there for the next 25 years or so and weigh in each morning until the blasted mortgage that you yearned, cajoled and begged for is finally paid off.

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An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug

“What then?” sang Plato’s ghost, “What then?”. Then, dear tipplers, you must accept yet another change in archetype - from a respected member of the community- a productive worker (a contributor) to becoming an idle pensioner (a dependant) - viewed by many with almost as much disdain and suspicion as a feral adolescent. Only death awaits you. All about as cheery as a passage from Beckett being sonorously intoned by Morrissey to the melancholy music of Satie. Enough to drive a man to drink. And yet even there we must confront changes in archetype. For while the sun shines today as I write this and I’m still happy to sit in the garden of my lovely home, Rose Cottage, sipping a chilled white with a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, we all know that this is on the verge of ending. Soon we must acknowledge that Autumn is here and retire indoors to eat big, hearty casseroles washed down with equally big, brawny reds.

Back to the vino for, despite appearances, this remains a wine column and not a philosophical tract. And back to the last of the summer wine, just about gaining the nod by no more than the shortest of short heads to be sure to be sure to be sure is today’s Wine of the Week is the fabulously fresh and fragrant 2018 AOP Paris Valley Road Chardonnay (£11.50, Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com or 01438-741177). A theatrically ripe pear and stonefruit nose welcomes a luscious palate full of citrus, peach and crisp, sweet apple flavours which are deftly balanced by understated spice and very discreet hints of oak and mineral. Zingy and zesty, this tangy, delightfully dry Californian white will also go wonderfully well with seafood, salads or gently spiced Asian or Mediterranean cuisine. While the archetypal Californian Chardonnay is big, juicy, slightly sweet and full of fruit, this particular drop bucks the trend and has all the refinement and sophistication of a Maconnais white.

Did someone mention big brawny reds? But before all that, an apology and some blame. I apologise for tormenting you with my wearisome, pseudo-philosophical musings about our dreary existence when all you wanted to know was what wine to serve with your roast beef tomorrow. And to blame my darling wife, the illustrious Madame G., who keeps banging on about these things when all I want to do is bury my head in a big brawny red and forget about such nonsense in the forlorn hope that it will all go away. It will not go away. And no amount of delicious Californian or Maconnais wine will change that.

Now, did someone mention a roast beef dinner? And delicious wine? Let’s try, if my Madame will permit us, to distract ourselves from archetypes, changing seasons and the awfulness of everything with a glass or ten of the big, brawny (where have I hear that before?) and opulently rich 2020 Melini Chianti Governo (£9, Tesco) which boasts a wonderfully expressive bouquet packed with damsons, cherries and spices while dark, luscious berries mingle pleasingly on its complex palate before hints of black pepper and dark bitter chocolate enrich its magnificently lengthy finish. One to savour with your Sunday roast or a sensitively spiced beef or lamb casserole.

And yet and yet, is this the truth? Are we archetypes or are we fluid? Can we learn to manage change? Is it all just misery heaped upon misery? Or are there not sublime changes too? And is change not part of life’s never-ending (until it ends that is) delight? Surely if beautiful wine, delicious food, love, sex, laughter and our transient joys teach us anything it’s that even if it’s not fair at all, life’s good. And the fact that it involves change and must end, well, who knows, that may well be a good but unfair thing too, hey? Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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