No shame or blame, just fabulous wine

The Spaniards have a term called “verguenza ajena”.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 6:00 am

It describes the shame you feel on someone else’s behalf. For example, if there was a huge national emergency that required your government to invest in specialist equipment but the leader gave the contract to some rich pal with no experience in this area rather than following the correct procedures and seeking expert help. You’d look at him and feel a bit let down, wouldn’t you?

Or if you see some chubby, sweaty old man making a fool of himself trying to chat up the pretty young girls as they parade upon the promenade. You’ve done nothing wrong yourself but you feel an acute sense of shame for the poor fellow nonetheless. Some put this down to heightened empathy but I think it’s more to do with realising that both you and he are human and that humans are, by and large, pathetic pitiful creatures.

At this strange and difficult time, such feelings are common, most especially when our politicians open their mouths. What would be much more useful to achieve would be the capacity to vicariously enjoy the pleasures of others. Is there even a word for that? Picture me sitting with my darling wife, the illustrious Madame G., on the patio at our lovely home, Rose Cottage, in the glorious evening sunshine whilst our trusty wireless transmits a beautiful Bach prelude being played on the harpsichord as I take a sip of the easy-drinking, versatile and refreshing 2020 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (£7,M&S).

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You don’t say to yourselves: “Oh, look- Raymond’s having fun. How wonderful!”. Do you? Of course you don’t! Why, my Madame even hates the sound of other people laughing and instinctively turns off the radio if anyone dares to giggle. Or, worse still, if children start talking in high-pitched cheery voices. That really gets her goat! And yet we all chortle away most merrily when the hapless tramp trips on the banana skin, don’t we? Aren’t we horrible? Anyway, this fresh, zesty Italian white is full of bright citrus and pear flavours on a lively palate alongside floral aromatics before a tingly, acidic finish. An ideal match to fried chicken thighs with a mushroom, parsley and yellow pepper risotto topped with parmesan and truffles.

The terrible truth is that we actually hate it when our friends become successful. We’d much rather they were unhappy so that they needed us and we could lend them our sympathetic ears, feeling good about ourselves as we compassionately pat them on their wee docile heads. It’s no wonder that people love dogs (and children). Don’t be giving your dogs (or children) any of today’s Wine of the Week, the earthy, savoury and spiced 2019 Society’s Exhibition Vacqueyras (£12.50, The Wine Society, or 01438-741177). This beautifully textured Rhone Valley red has an abundance of cherry and blackberry flavours with depth on the palate and a lengthy finish. One for a Sunday roast of lamb, mint sauce, gravy, roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary, some root vegetables and lots and lots of peas please.

It takes an exceptional soul to feel happy for the achievements and pleasures of others. Assuming that you are normal, then rather than pretending that you don’t envy my inestimable joys, just go to your local shop or online wine merchant, buy a couple of bottles of vino as recommended by your wicked Uncle Raymond, cook up some nice food, and look after your own selfish pleasures. You’re worth it, you’ve earned it, baby! We all really, really love you and we are just happy to see you happy. Honest! Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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