An Occasional Tipple: A toast to the glory of love in a festive season

Raymond Gleug
Raymond Gleug

My darling wife, the illustrious Madame G., likes her steaks the same way she likes her men. Big, well-aged, and as tough as old boots. Meaning very well-done.

As for me, I prefer my steaks to be a little rare, succulent, tender and very juicy. And by juicy, I mean bloody. Or at least I thought I did until I learned that what you think of as bloody juices in your steak aren’t actually blood at all. They’re actually made up of myoglobin- a harmless protein which helps muscle tissue to store oxygen. Be sure to tell the squeamish Madame G. in your life that they can now enjoy a rare steak!

Tell her that it’s entirely logical when she stops to think about it. After all, it doesn’t taste like blood, does it, poochie-pie? What it needs though, more than anything else, ma cherie, you may say is a rich, robust and full-bodied red to wash it down. Step forward today’s WINE OF THE WEEK, the dark garnet-coloured, decadent and deeply satisfying 2016 Clou du Pin (£7.99, Lidl). Superbly balanced dark fruit flavours mingle with spicy oak flavours and luxurious strands of vanilla on an intriguing palate before a long, lingering finish.

In fairness, though, it probably doesn’t matter how many times you try to tell some people that the red juices seeping from their perfectly-cooked steak aren’t blood but, interestingly enough, myoglobin.

They will still see blood. These types will be much happier the next day when you serve them a delicious pan-fried hake fillet alongside a spicy risotto with garlic, ginger, chilli, coriander, onion, plenty of peas and a generous sprinkling of turmeric instead.

They will want to enjoy this with a glass or two of today’s second recommendation, the zesty, complex and wonderfully expressive 2016 Le Alte Friulano (£9, M&S). This Italian white has a herbaceous bouquet before a lively palate with plenty of nectarine and citrus flavours alongside backnotes of almond. It will also go very nicely with poultry such as turkey, if you’re planning to cook anything along those lines in the near future.

Speaking of turkey, they were saying on the radio today that it will be Christmas quite soon. One of the highlights of the festive season for me is sherry trifle and a good dessert wine followed by my port and stilton. If you fancy an alternative this year, you could put away both your port and your sherry and try instead today’s final recommendation, the pale pink, lightly fortified and sticky but not oversweet Nuy Red Muskadel (£10.95, The Wine Society, visit www.thewinesociety.com or telephone 01438-741177) which will go equally well with desserts or cheese. Enticing rose aromas lead to an opulent palate which manages to be full of raisin, cherry and raspberry flavours and yet to also possess excellently judged acidity.

As I said to my Madame, in respect of the whole myoglobin episode, and in order to comply with the spirit of peace and goodwill which traditionally governs this most wonderful time of the year: it takes a very special kind of man who will still love you even though he knows you are wrong. You should count yourself lucky that he’s inside having a steak with you at all and not outside eating a burger in the rain. Ah, the glory of love! Till next week, tipplers, sante!