It still stings, even after all this time.
The table cloths were crisp and white, the frock perfect, the back-ground tinkle and hum sophisticated and the waiter attentive. Or at least he was.
“I think we’ll have a bottle of the soave (pronounced to rhyme with Hove) thanks.”
The sneer was fleeting, but it signalled a change in attitude. The perfect, grown-up date evening was ruined.
Now I know that you say “so – ah – vay” but I’ve never, ever ordered a bottle since. I learned a big lesson that night – apart from not to care when people look down their noses at me.
It was exactly how tricky the whole wine business is if you aren’t actually 100 per cent confident in what you’re talking about.
On the face of it, wine’s easy – try lots until you find the ones you like the taste of and stick to them… if you can remember their names.
But, scratch the surface and there’s far more to worry about. What if you can’t say it correctly or make some fundamental faux pas like not knowing what temperature it’s supposed to be? Maybe even, you’ll do the worst thing and order a kind of wine that is, gasp, unfashionable. It’s enough to drive you to drink.
Remember how Leibfraumilch – often sold as Blue Nun – was dropped like a stone taking the rest of the German wine industry with it. After all who was going to bother learning how to spell Gewurztraminer?
Things looked up with the laid-back (and hugely producible) New World wines. Jacob’s Creek anyone? Suddenly it wasn’t intimidating – labels had pretty pictures on it and fonts lost their serifs. The image was all unbuttoned collars and barbecues.
So far so good. But, of course, no one wanted to be seen quaffing something common. Things lose the edge of sophistication when you hear the names being used for kids in the playpark. “Chardonnay, get over here now, I need to wipe your nose.”
So the challenge is to find something you can depend on, isn’t going to make you look like a buffoon, you can say, and – crucially – tastes great.
You could slavishly follow the words of the wisest wine commentators, you could cheat, or you could order Merlot or Chablis to keep it classy.
|Pic from Mr.TinDC via flickr|