The piece below was posted to us by a man who asks us not to reveal his name or address. Editor
From Two Cellars
I make my own wine, not because of any enjoyment this entails – it is rather tiresome – but on account of the fact that I am too cheap to buy the commercial stuff. In the course of oenological dabbling, I chummed up with a fellow who is also an amateur winemaker. The difference between us is that I make my plonk from any fresh fruit I can get, while he goes to great lengths to acquire specific grapes from various regions, labelling his products accordingly. We recently discussed our efforts, concluding that it would be interesting to call upon the services of a mutual acquaintance, who fancies himself as a connoisseur, the idea being that he should assess our respective outputs. Here is what he said:
Weitsteiner Kalbspinkel. (My friend’s.) Insipid is the word. I had expected something more incisive from a pressing which has, basically, Rhineland provenance. This flutters ineffectually around the palate, settling nowhere. Many German wines are produced from slaty soil and frankly, in this case I would have preferred to bite off a chunk from a Welsh quarry. By the way, Kalbspinkel means calf-pee – and Weitstein is not in my atlas.
Pear and rhubarb. (Mine.) Bowels in a bottle! I don’t wish to be indelicate, but the word ‘sewage’ comes to mind. Let me not dwell upon how the by-tastes of sulphur and ammonia were achieved. This beverage might have been less malignant had the perpetrator used overripe pears and natural, unforced West Yorkshire rhubarb. Clearly he didn’t, the result being that the kindest thing to say is ‘Ugh’.
Château Lyon. (My friend’s.) A brute! An assassin! More terror than terroir, this mean, vicious potion should not be sold off-prescription. Those with leather stomachs might just cope with what I instantly dubbed ‘The Villefranche Strangler’. If you can think of a blend of Chablis, Montrachet, Richebourg and Pommard les Epinots, perhaps you’d better not. This wine has all the restraint of a Pamplona bull. Among those who try it, some may survive, but basically the stuff is best regarded as lethal.
Grapefruit and Raisin. (Mine.) This liquid is so unpretentious that it must have an inferiority complex. Still, if you like the olfactory experience of a combination of roast chicken and lemon curd, you will not be disappointed. I don’t want to go into the effect on the innards, save to say that this offering is marginally less of an emetic than some others from the same stable.
Coonaburra Top Bin. (My friend’s.) This purports to simulate something from the Barossa Valley. If it really does so, I can only say trust the Aussies for originality. Imagine a mix of vynil silk-finish emulsion, ox-blood shoe polish and tartar sauce, and you will come close. Laced with (unless I am much mistaken) a distillation of dingo liver extract, Top Bin kicks like a mule. Frankly, I liked it, though after one glass, I spent three hours straightening my toes. Tie down your scalp and give it a go.
Apple and Mulberry. (Mine.) To be truthful, I’d rather not be truthful. If the maker could only rid his product of the overwhelming flavour of coal-tar soap, it might be almost drinkable. I understand this was created at a cost of 12p a bottle. It may be value for money if used for scouring doorsteps, but don’t imbibe it.
Readers may care to note that though I emerged somewhat tarnished from this event, I have had the courage to present the result. My friend has no comment.
* * *