Singing for my supper and wonderful wine

“Volare! Ho oh! Cantare! Ho oh ho oh! Nel blu, dipinto di blu!”

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 6:00 am
An occasional tipple with Raymond Gleug

Not many people know this but Volare started its illustrious life by only finishing third for Italy in the Eurovision Song contest of 1958.

And no, I don’t remember what won it that year either. As Nick Berry once memorably sang, every loser wins once the dream begins.

Why am I telling you this?

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The answer is simple. Tonight, we will once again be watching Eurovision after having been so cruelly deprived of this cultural jewel last year thanks to that blasted pandemic.

Watching the dismal Irish entry in the semi-finals on Tuesday evening an idea took root.

Not in my head but in the much prettier little head of my darling wife, the enigmatic Madame G.

“Raymond, mon cher,” she seductively whispered, “I’d so love you to sing to me in the style of an operatic tenor. Between now and your 21st birthday next month, please put together an amazing performance.

“Earn yourself an unforgettable birthday treat!”

Naturally, I agreed and, truth be told, I have no problem hitting any of the notes.

But I do find it quite tricky to put them all in the right order. Happily, the notes all arrive in perfect sequence in the preferred gargle for my dulcet vocal chords, today’s Wine of the Week, the decadently smooth, mellow and superbly balanced 2019 Sicilia Nero d’Avola (£5.50, Sainsbury’s).

A generous bouquet delivers dark cherry and blackberry flavours before a sumptuous palate wherein more black fruit and summer berries mingle with notes of pepper and lick-your-lips liquorice. Enjoy, as we did, with sausage, fennel and pasta in a rich, creamy tomato sauce.

I’ve also been lubricating my larynx with the crisp, fruity and discreetly spicy 2020 Macon-Villages Vin de Bourgogne (Tesco, £8).

As I immersed myself in the unctuous fragrance of a lively floral bouquet that nodded towards violets and forget-me-nots, I thought of my heroic Madame and her plan to battle through airports, Covid tests and possible quarantines to return to her native country, kill a bear and bring the spoils back to our own lovely home, Rose Cottage.

Yes, any woman who resolves to kill a bear (by which her people- the French- mean performing a mighty labour, in this case sorting out some urgent family business) deserves her own aria.

In the meantime, she has certainly earned another glass of this particularly plump representation of Chardonnay - such an unfairly maligned but stubbornly popular grape.

A tantalisingly juicy palate seems brimful of vibrant peach and apricot flavours before a neat kick of white ginger impudently perks up its delicately spiced finish.

An ideal match to the sea bass fillets and leafy green salad which we were feasting upon al fresco in the evening sunshine. I’ve still got nearly a month to go before I’m 21 again. And sometimes I feel so happy when I make it all the way up to the right note.

Sometimes I feels so sad when I break it. Mostly, though, the whole thing just makes me mad.

Things like this drive me right out of my mind and into the arms of my Madame, if she’s in the mood for love.

Otherwise, I just focus on keeping the old throat nicely moistened with lots and lots of very fine wine. Volare! Ho oh! Cantare! Ho oh ho oh!

Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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