Les Wine Miserables

Nothing beats getting together with a bunch of wine lovers to taste a selection of superior reds and whites. Drinking good wine is, after all, about enjoyment, fine dining, friendship and sharing. Isn’t it? Then how do you account for what I call ‘wine misers’?

We’ve all met one or two. They’re usually blokes. They know a lot about wine and spend a fair bit of money on it. Typically, they will own an interior-designed, expensively constructed cellar, that is well-stocked with the best that money can buy: top-shelf, imported, indented, aged and selected wines.

With a proud gleam in their beady eyes they like to take you on a guided tour, to point out the rarity of certain bottles and to explain the shelving and cataloguing system and the intricacies of the air-conditioning and the constant humidification.

Trouble is, when they eventually offer their by now exhausted and thirsty guest/s a post-tour drink, they will inevitably open a cleanskin, boasting, ‘Only seven bucks the bottle! The guy who sold me this reckons it’s the equivalent of a thirty-five dollar Coonawarra cabernet!’ It is more likely to taste like it’s only a step away from vat dregs, Chateau Cardboard or the vinegar factory.

Wine misers are essentially hoarders, reminiscent of Scrooge McDuck. Remember him? The one who would sit in his treasure vault showering himself in gold doubloons while Donald and Daisy ate crusts of bread in their hovel.

Sadly, when a wine miser does produce a dusty offering from his hoard, it will have been kept far too long. The cork will be stuffed and disintegrate. The wine, if red, will be musty, brown, tarry and thin. If a white, you won’t know whether you’re drinking a chardonnay or an oloroso or balsamic vinaigrette.

Mine host will of course ignore all the faults and rave about the wine’s elegance, its refinement, its breeding, its graceful ageing and its terroir. He has to make the best of a bad lot hasn’t he? To demonstrate his knowledge and cellaring skills.

But after you’ve gone he’ll grab any remaining bottles of offensive ‘dear old things’ and consign them to auction for some other mug to buy. He’ll boast about that too next time he sees you.

Wine misers, it should be said, do know their wine. You’ll notice that when they dine at any but their own tables, wine misers will avoid cleanskins and under $15 commercial offerings and will fix their greedy eyes on the most expensive bottles, making sure their Riedels runneth over while the deluxe wine still flows.

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