Wine memories

Recommendations, comments or questions about wine matters

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Allan
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Wine memories

Post by Allan » Mon 05 Mar 2018 12:44

The recent thread that mentioned Piat d’Or wine prompted me to recall the wines of my childhood and younger days.

As a child we only had wine at weddings and Christmas, the standard was then Spanish Sauternes (an oxymoron) and Asti Spumante for special occasions.

The 60s and early 70s were the era of wine sold so that you could put a candle in the empty bottle or make a table lamp from it. Mateus Rosé and Ruffino Chianti were the leading brands.

Then the Germans took over the world with Sichel Blue Nun and Niersteiner Gutes Domtal.

I can remember drinking a Californian Chardonnay, supplied in a bottle shaped like those they use in hospitals for patients to urinate in. The wine was so bad that the bottle seemed ideally suited.

In the 80s every Italian restaurant seemed to serve Verdicchio in a shaped bottle.

What memories do others have of their early wines?

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Post by Santiago » Mon 05 Mar 2018 14:45

I was fortunate to be brought up in Spain. So my earliest memories are of the bodegas of Rioja and being allowed to drink watered down wine in restaurants at the age of 5.

When we retuned to the UK, my father became more and more skinflint on alcohol, probably because he drank too much of it and spent far too much money on fags, so Rioja descended to Don Cortez, his lubrication of choice for the obligatory Sunday lunchtime argument with the rest of the family.

Maybe because of that, I didn't drink wine at all until going on holiday to France aged 22 with some friends who brought along Oz Clarke and Hugh Johnson's guidebooks. We spent a week in a gite exploring the supermarket offerings of Beaujolais Crus. It opened my taste buds and mind to wine and I hung on to his books when we came back to England, using them to explore the flavours and characters of the then interesting ranges in Sainsbury's, Oddbins and Bottom's Up. The first wine that really stunned me was Penfold's Kalimna Shiraz, that was then only £10 a bottle.

So I missed out on the damage Blue Nun, Mateus Rosé, Hirondelle and Paul Masson seem to have done to many people's palates and views on wine.
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martyn94
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Post by martyn94 » Mon 05 Mar 2018 16:57

Paul Masson was on the tip of my tongue for Allan’s Chardonnay bottle shaped like a sample bottle, until you said it. Thanks.

There was a small chain of grocers in the smarter parts of West London (name forgotten) at the end of the 70s which had a wonderfully gifted and adventurous buyer: you could order a mixed case over the phone and pick it up a couple of days later to take home from your nearest shop (last-mile delivery is always going to be a problem for wine, until they have a drone that can deliver it, open it, and pour it out).

I lived near a (the original?) Bottom’s Up in Greenwich: the founder must have had a deep knowledge of the murkier corners of the wine trade, because he came up with all sorts of weird parcels. Back in 1982, he had some perfectly decent, and very cheap, South American table wine. And it just got cheaper and cheaper. It took me about a month to realise that people were boycotting it because it was made by the “the Argiesâ€￾. The only people who lost by it were the UK importers, who must have paid for it 6 months before. One more reason why I wasn’t much surprised by the Brexit result. Still, I filled the cupboard under my stairs, and drank it for the next 6 months.

They also had some very good-value Portuguese wine (I think Bairrada) where their latest vintage, in the early 80’s, was 1968, and it was still quite tough. I suspect it’s made differently now.

I also remember the great fake Rioja scandal of whenever it was. The aftermath was a fire sale of wonderful booze: I sometimes look at Reserva 904, say, and wince: I used to gargle with it.

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Post by martyn94 » Mon 05 Mar 2018 18:51

I didn’t answer the original question. My story is quite like Santiago’s. We didn’t drink wine at home, though a lot of other stuff got drunk, until I introduced it a while later. Unless you count sherry for aunties at Xmas.

I first drank wine undiluted in France, like him, but starting about six years younger. Very mixed: a quart with the menu one day, and decent claret, staying with kind friends, the next. And it’s gone on pretty much like that since, though drifting mildly up market. I suspect that for about half the wine I drink, I don’t know what it is, nor care enough to ask.

I think his references to Blue Nun etc are a bit of a caricature: I suspect that I have had all the brands he cites (but rarely, and faute de mieux). It doesn’t mean that my taste is irretrievably doomed: just that some wine is sometimes better than no wine at all (I had some Mateus Rose quite recently, in company I like, and didn’t want to offend. It’s not undrinkable.)

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Post by jethro » Mon 05 Mar 2018 21:57

Because I am a cheapskate and have taste buds largely destroyed by eating Lamb Madras in Glasgow over a period of sixteen years, I drink only BiB products and only two (large) glasses a day thereof. I have been drinking Château Villeclare's red wine even though it is largely fertilised by my Labrador, whose twice-daily excursions include the Villeclare vineyards at Palau. I then switched to the BiB produced by Mas Rous, because it is bio, and I am increasingly sceptical about the clouds of chemicals surrounding the tractor-driver charged with treating the fruit trees so close to the Villeclare vineyards. Pleasant as that gargle was, I happened to be passing the Vignerons des Albères coop at St. Génis today and bought a BiB of their red. It is quite good, even with a trace of oak, which was a big surprise. Probably chips in muslin. As a student in Glasgow, the tipple of choice was Faugères generic red, though the seventies saw us going upmarket with Fitou A.O.C..Ladies liked Mateus Rosé and mildly fizzy Lambrusco. A five-year spell in Bordeaux about the beginning of the nineties saw us discovering that any Bordeaux under 10 euros is fit only for cooking, and a tasting at St. Emilion opened our eyes to the disconcerting fact that you get what you pay for, and an expensive wine usually has very good reasons for being dear. Luckily, the palate is decreasingly sensitive with age,and I am quite happy to imBiBe from the boxes ( see what I did there ?) though if a philanthropist were to penetrate the Vallée Heureuse with a bottle of any of Mr. Gauby's products in search of my tasting notes, I would be happy to indulge him. Anyone outside seventies Glasgow ever tasted Lanliq, the beverage of choice among folk-singers ?
an' the wun' cried Mary.

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 06 Mar 2018 13:55

[quote=" Anyone outside seventies Glasgow ever tasted Lanliq, the beverage of choice among folk-singers ?[/quote]

No, thank God. But you could always fall back on Bucky with an Irn-Bru chaser. Or should that be the other way round?

My step-grandmother used to be partial to Sanatogen Tonic Wine. Probably a bit more classy and she didn’t sing folk songs either.

There is a famous quote by Sir Thomas Beecham that he’d try anything once except incest or folk dancing. I’d extend that to folk singing. It’s also (as always) been attributed to almost anyone else you have ever heard of, from Churchill to Oscar Wilde.

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 06 Mar 2018 14:32

martyn94 wrote: There was a small chain of grocers in the smarter parts of West London (name forgotten) at the end of the 70s which had a wonderfully gifted and adventurous buyer: you could order a mixed case over the phone and pick it up a couple of days later

Name now remembered: Cullens. Taken over by Tesco years ago.

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Post by Allan » Mon 19 Mar 2018 08:21

For a nostalgia fix, Channel 4 is showing a program on Friday evening. Called Britain’s favourite food.

About the Show
Simon Rimmer looks back at our favourite convenience foods. From Angel Delight to Smash, what was in them and why did we lap them up?

Episode 1

How did Angel Delight become such a hit? Plus: Blue Nun and the wine the French allegedly adored: Le Piat d'Or; how chicken Kiev transformed M&S; and classic lollies, from Fab to Zoom

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Kate
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Post by Kate » Mon 19 Mar 2018 18:23

Haha. Loved Angel Delight. We used call it Birds Cream Dropping. See, I was mature for my age even then! Looooooool

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Post by Sus » Wed 21 Mar 2018 08:33

We only had wine for special occasions and because of the French part of my family mainly Bourgueil or Chateauneuf du Pape. It has left me with a distinct preference for full red wines, I sometimes try to drink something else but always come back to similar wines.

My current favourite is the Chateau Saint Estèphe, we had put some wine down from 2009 and it is now superb. But I have been meaning to visit local producers so glad about all the threads on the forum so we can plan our tasting round.

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Post by Gus Morris » Wed 21 Mar 2018 14:18

I'd never tasted wine until I started to travel outside the UK. When I moved to France I developed a taste for wine. My consumption was moderate. A glass a day at the most.

The day I poured the rest of a half drunk bottle down the sink stays with me. I'd concluded that even my modest level of consuming fermented grape juice was not doing me any good. So I stopped and felt all the better for it.

Gus

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 21 Mar 2018 18:11

Gus Morris wrote:I'd never tasted wine until I started to travel outside the UK. When I moved to France I developed a taste for wine. My consumption was moderate. A glass a day at the most.

The day I poured the rest of a half drunk bottle down the sink stays with me. I'd concluded that even my modest level of consuming fermented grape juice was not doing me any good. So I stopped and felt all the better for it.

Gus
“How are you going to keep them down on the farm (after they’ve seen Paree)?â€￾

Allan
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Post by Allan » Fri 30 Mar 2018 11:10

Did anyone else see the program?

It showed the creator of Le Piat d’Or explaining that they first of all took Blue Nun dyed it red and then test marketed it.

The public loved it so they made a wine in the same way, i.e. by adding sweetened grape juice at the bottling stage. They said that it wasn’t permitted to sell ‘wine’ like that in France though it was available in the channel ports for people to take back to England.

Hopefully British tastes have improved since then.

Tonight’s program deals with Cadbury’s Smash. I thought that stuff like that had died out but powdered mashed potato is seemingly a big seller in French supermarkets.

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 31 Mar 2018 15:39

Allan wrote:
Tonight’s program deals with Cadbury’s Smash. I thought that stuff like that had died out but powdered mashed potato is seemingly a big seller in French supermarkets.
I think it always has been. If you like pommes purées in the French style, I doubt that the dehydrated version is much worse. You only have to look in a quite small supermarket to know that the French (like everyone) have areas of gross incompetence in what is meant to be a food-loving country. Pre-cooked rice (à la Uncle Ben’s); pre-cooked rice (also à la Uncle Ben’s) dosed out into little plastic pre-measured packets with holes in. Etc. Hundreds of mllions of mostly semi-literate people with minimal cooking equipment turn out better rice every day, at a quarter the price. But I bet their bouef bourguignon is lousy.

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 31 Mar 2018 16:30

Kate wrote:Haha. Loved Angel Delight. We used call it Birds Cream Dropping. See, I was mature for my age even then! Looooooool
“But I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.â€￾

Thanks to Bob Dylan, and almost anyone else you’ve ever heard of.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h80l4XIPJC4

The trouble with looking up music on YouTube is that you follow the links, and end up half-an-hour later listening to Pavarotti singing Ave Maria.

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 31 Mar 2018 17:13

[quote="martyn94] I bet their bouef bourguignon is lousy.[/quote]

And they can’t even spell it.

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