The truth about Hallowe’en and French wine

Long, long ago here on our beautiful green island there lived a man known as Stingy Jack.

By An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 30th October 2021, 6:00 am

So called because he was the kind of old get who would not spend Christmas, never mind Hallowe’en. Shunned by the many on account of his miserly ways, he sought solace in the company of the Devil and invited him out for a few jars to celebrate All Souls Night when the dead routinely wandered the Earth and God’s dominion was temporarily handed over to ghouls, demons, ghosts and witches.

When the bill arrived, Lucifer looked at Stingy Jack and said, “Pay up, old boy, you invited me”. Jack claimed to have lost his wallet and begged the Devil to use his magical powers to transform himself into a coin which he could use to pay for their drinks. The Devil rolled his eyes but reluctantly agreed. Whereupon Jack quickly did a runner from the bar with the coin secreted in his pocket next to a silver cross which prevented Old Nick from changing back into his original form.

At home, Jack celebrated his triumph with a few glasses of today’s Wine of the Week, the rustic, complex and deftly spiced 2020 Society’s Claret (£6.95, visit thewinesociety.com or 01438-741177). This aromatic, ruby-coloured drop has a rich, smoky palate, full of forest berry and black cherry flavours alongside backnotes of vanilla and dry tannins. Should be an ideal match to any venison, game, roast beef or steak dishes you might fancy.

An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug

At the end of the night Jack agreed to free the Devil on condition that he didn’t bother him for a year and that, should Jack die in the interim, he wouldn’t claim his soul. The following Hallowe’en the Devil returned for revenge. Jack agreed to give the Devil his soul if the Devil could reach the fruit at the top of the tree in his yard before him. While Lucifer was scampering up the tree Jack carved a cross into the bark of the tree, trapping his nemesis who could not come down without promising to leave Jack’s soul untroubled and not to be annoying him again for at least 10 years.

Chortling away at his latest triumph, Stingy Jack opened today’s second recommendation, the decadently rich, full-bodied and impressively flavoursome 2020 M&S Classics Domaine Corbieres (£7). Ripe, muscular blackberry flavours, a warm, tangy palate and a spicy, judiciously oaked finish combine to create a robust, jammy and quite old-fashioned but thoroughly enjoyable blend of Grenache and Syrah. One for Beef Bourgignon or Irish Stew.

The following Hallowe’en after angrily turning away a sweet bunch of annoying “Trick or Treating” kids from his door with empty hands and fleas in their ears, Stingy Jack had a massive heart attack and died. God would not let such an unsavoury soul contaminate his holy kingdom. But the Devil had lost his rights to Jack’s soul and so he was also turned away from Hell. Lucifer sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out pumpkin and has been roaming the Earth ever since. In Ireland this ghostly figure became known as Jack of the Lanterns which, in the Irish way, was soon shortened to Jack O’Lantern.

And that’s why, to this day, we carve pumpkins at Hallowe’en. In case you were wondering. The moral of the story is don’t end up like Stingy Jack, give the auld divil a wide berth and pay for your round. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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