Drink More Paint Stripper

A very worrying headline in the Times newspaper (31/10)


Yep, too many wine drinkers and not enough wine – at least not enough of the good stuff, so nothing to worry about for happy budget boozers like me.

Now, don’t think, that because this is France we are all sitting round the dinner table of an evening, washing down out gourmet dinner  with lashings of vintage wine.

First, your average family is more like to be having silething simple like past and secondly, they are probably washing it down with water.

Average wine consumption in France (from vintage wine through to battery acid) is actually down, however, the French (as the Americans and the Chinese) are drinking more of the decent stuff.

Okay what is decent wine ?

Not difficult.

First off, the wine must come in a proper glass bottle  – not a box or a carton or a plastic bottle.

It must have a real with a real cork as opposed to a plastic cork or a screw top.

The wine must be from one place and not a mix of wines from all over the place.

Preferably the wine will be produced and bottled in the same place, that place being a vineyard or a château and the name of that place being displyaed on the label.

Beware of those mixed up winesn – the ones that claim to be of the région, but from different producers a   nd bottles by a « coopérative »

Finally, the fewer the labels on the bottle the better. Those labels teling you how to drink the wine and what to drink it with mean that you are buying wone for plebs and not the real stuff.

Wine for plebs is called table wine or « vin de table »and some of it quite frankly could be used for stripping the old varnish or pain off your table.

Anway for budget boozers and everyday alkies such as me, there is plenty of table wine about – it is the decent stuff that is goin to be in short supply, because loads of people who never drank wine before are starting it drink it now. And why not drink good wine. Good wine is good for you. I have a creeping suspicion though that many of these new converts to the fruit of the vine are merely … WINE SNOBS. (Yes I said it … WINE SNOBS) – Those who sip and don’t gulp. Those who spend more time with their nose in the glass than their lips on the glass. Those who drink from unfeasibly huge glasses but don’t drink unfeasibly huge glasses.

So, the new wine consummers are

The new Yuppies – the urban eco aware Bourgeois Bohemian types who hang out in the plethora of wine bars that are springing up all over France. It’s a bit like Britain in the late eighties where ther was suddenly a flourishing of the modern ersatz spt and sawdust real ale pub – well so too in France, beatifully decorated, parquet floored middle class wine bars seem to be opening up for business everywhere . They offer good wine by the glass (as opposed to by the bottle) and they offer traditional French food in well cooked manageable portions with a modern twist – kind of bistrot meets novelle cuisine. We have two or three of these places in my corner of small town France offering up Chatau this or that in small glasses and specialities such as individual Gratin Dauphinois or small plates of Bœuf Bourgignon.  On a récent visit to Paris, I noticed a véritable tidal wave of wine bars in various traditional décorative guises. What a change.

It was only a few years back that aglass of wine was the preserve of the institutional and clichéd alkie – the cloth cap coiffed peasant who hadeparked his bike, the time to down a few glasses of cheap wine – béret clamped to his head, a Gitane cigarette clamped to his lower lip, propping up the bar and drinking down the « cuvée du patron » – cheap gut rotting, painst stripper red white or rosé accopmanied with endless cigarettes and a game of cards. There are still such people in small village bars. Afew years backn drinking wine in a café was synonymous with wife beating, cirrhosis and the first step on the road to wrack and ruin, now thoughn it seems that the French are rediscovering wine ; though not asa drink, but more as a sign of good social mores, a sign of culture, style and a good standard of living.

Look at the prices. You can get a bottle of « vin de table » for under 3 Euros at your local supermarket. The first decent and affiordable wine in one if the new wine bars weighs in at around five Euros. Mind you, the owners of these places are making good money.

My favourite tippl is a glass of St Joseph, retailing at just under ten Euros in our local supermarket and jus over twelve Euros at the loacl wibe shop. A glass of this stuff down the wine bar weighs in at arounf 7 Euros. If you choose to accompany this with a « tartine » – no more than a slice of toatsted cheese, you can leave the wine bar with a 20 Euro bill.

Wine, the best new investment. If we’re going to run dry of the good stuff, the nit is perhaps time to invest, but wait a while. We’ve had five years of bad grape harvests and lousy summer weather. 2013 is going to be a good year. Just wait a while and invest later.

Anyway, this evening I am enjoying a glass of St Chinian (5Euros a bottle down my local hypermarket but very drinkable)  Whatever your tipple this evening I will raise ly glass to you, wish you good health and thank you for reading the blog.