I’m half-Irish, half-English, and five thirds ethanol. This makes me somewhat of an expert in the ways of alcohol and in my state of constant inebriation I’m also not averse to flinging my wisdom to the four winds with not a care in the world as to where such knowledge lands.
Today I’d like to introduce you to wine. Specifically: French wine.
By and large, French wine falls under the taste category of "le fucking awful". There is one type of red wine in France and three types of white wine.
The red wine is vinegar. Some of it is vinegar in bottles marked "vin de table" and some of it is vinegar in bottles marked "chateauneuf de vinegar" but the vinegar is there, nonetheless. The full-bodied red wine of France lacks body and wine, preferring the consistency of water vapour to the former and a heavy dose of vinegar to the latter. If you pop into a poisson and chips shop in downtown Paris they ask if you’d like some salt and burgundy with your order.
White wine is either dry, chardonnay, or champagne.
The dry wine isn’t just dry; it’s uberdry. Those little packs that come in your computer accessories marked "silica gel" that you can’t hold in your hand without dying? Those are crystals of dry, white, French wine. You get more moisture from mixing a Vodka Martini with an equal measure of Campari than from French white wine and that’s the cocktail that sea sponges are born from.
Chardonnay is, of course, the most common and vilest wine grape on both this planet and that other grape planet around Arcturus. When I think of a white wine to drink I think: I want something refreshing, flavoursome, chilled. Okay, chardonnay is flavoursome – I’ll give you that much – but ham-flavoured grapes just aren’t my thing. Doesn’t anyone else taste the meat in chardonnay? I’m not one of those people who swills wine around in my mouth, pulls in air over my tongue, spits it out and says "mmmm, essence of girl guides frolicking in a meadow with hyacinths growing under a nearby bridge beside a mango-laden hedge, home to singing starlings" because I can never even pick out the taste of blackberries in blackberry wine. But I can taste the pig in chardonnay.
I may be wrong but it is my solemn belief that chardonnay grapes are grown on hillsides formed from the rotted-down carcasses of a massive boar-culling. They are tended by genetically-modified pigs who walk upright shooing away greenfly and excreting pig breath and pig faeces in equal measure upon the vines until it is time for picking. Swallowing the grapes and shitting them out into grape baskets (because their trotters are not ideally suited to plucking the delicate fruit), the chardonnay is then stamped down (by pigs), stored (inside pig skins), and then allowed to mature in the warm and dark environment of a blue whale’s innards (whose organs have been surgically replaced with porcine equivalents). Smoky bacon crisps are added to the liquid upon removal from the cetaceous beast and they are finally bottled in ham-lined glass with snout stoppers.
Chardonnay is not a wine grape; it’s pork in a grape-shaped jacket.
Which leaves us with champagne. Principally chardonnay. And dry. I should hate it. And yet … what a difference bubbles makes! Champagne rocks. As do I after a couple of glasses of the stuff. All you need to know about champagne is that I like it a lot, I’ll like you a lot if you buy me some, and it’s the only thing French and wet that gets past my lips. Except kisses. There is a sliding scale of champagne, in case you’re interested: Dom Perignon is worth every penny, Bollinger is the best of the standard champagnes by a mile, and everything else is tied for a distant but still pleasant-tasting third place.
And that’s French Wine.
Next time on Mark’s Alcohol Awareness: Lithuanian Brandy And Your Eyesight.