There is not the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to be. Our foggy climate wants help.

(Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey )

Before I was into wine I once was given a bottle of red by my father-in-law, which probably cost around £20 or so, knowing his tastes.

So I decided to sup the lot (slowly not caning it), not knowing any other wines, no comparison to others, well after emptying this bottle I was smashed, badly drunk and I had the worst headache ever. No way could I get rid of this headache, it stuck for a full day, I tried walks in the air, paracetamol, even a glass of beer. I just couldn’t believe that one bottle of wine could be so deadly, when it usually took 10-15 pints of Guinness to have the same effect.

Now, I adore wine and have done so for a number of years. Barely a day passes without something open to accompany dinner. Red is certainly my favourite and stunning quality is in reach from Languedoc-Rousillon for a modest sum, whilst price/quality ratios seem at their best in Chile, Argentina, South Africa.

Bordeaux can be sublime, but generally expensive. There are bargains however, and a decent property such as Château Léoville-Barton can be purchased (a case that is) for under £250. After tax it’ll obviously be more, probably looking at around £25 – £30 per bottle. Expensive, I know, but when compared to the price we pay in the UK for a good meal, theatre tickets, drinks, etc., then it’s relatively cheap I feel. The problem is storage though and few of us have the ideal conditions for storing wine.

As one of our more notorious wine journos has repeatedly said, there is more nonsense said about wine than any other subject – including sex. Just trust your own taste buds, or find a writer that you can trust for recommendations. Reputation can sometimes mean very little in the world of wine, simply an excuse to continually up the price of a product. Or at worst a chance for the more wealthy to engage in snobbery.

I think it was Brent Marris, formerly the owner of the excellent Wither Hills in New Zealand who told the story of being out for dinner with a rather affluent businessman. The chap ordered a bottle of the legendary Pétrus (Bordeaux wine estate of the Pomerol appellation) for which you would expect he paid thousands. Upon receiving the bottle he poured a glass, put the bottle down facing the restaurant for everyone to see then filled the rest of the glass with Coca Cola! Marris asked why, to which the businessman said he can’t stand the taste of the stuff.

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