It is my birthday soon, sadly. A few friends are meeting up for a nice meal and the wines have already been decided upon. Oddly there will be a lot of Burgundy consumed. As I muse upon those lovely wines that will be consumed in great company I find myself thinking about how good things can be.
Britain has historically been a great trading nation, and this has done wonders for our fine wine trade which is still one of the most dynamic in the world even now we are largely a comedy nation. We have invented a number of wine styles throughout history including Sherry, sparkling Champagne, Madeira, red (as opposed to rosé) Bordeaux and fortified Port. Yet, the British are notoriously shy and retiring, not people given to the visceral, sociable pleasures that wine provides.
The cunning solution of the British wine lover was to turn the pleasure of wine into an intellectual one. Rather than drinking fun wines, the fine wine market has until very recently been almost exclusively obsessed with red Bordeaux. Whilst Bordeaux can be be complex and interesting, it tends toward the hard, lean, austere, not-much-fun end of the wine spectrum. The best wines are undoubtedly great, but not always designed to put a big smile on one’s face.
So, one might prefer to drink riper, fleshier, more fruity wines, such as those that come from Australia and the USA. These wines often provide a lot of visceral pleasure but frequently lack that extra dimension that I, as a British wine lover, seek: interest. There are some very complex, very interesting wines made in this style, really quite a remarkable number considering the very short period wines have been made in these areas, but sadly they tend to be too expensive for your humble narrator. Moreover, drinking more than a few glasses of them often leaves me completely paralytic. Strangely, getting completely news-casted is a pleasure I rarely seek.
The solution is clear: drink Burgundy! Burgundy is fleshy and fun, yet complex and interesting. It speaks about the area it comes from, it cheers me up and I can think about even more clearly after a couple of glasses because it is not booze-tastic. Simple village wines even from serious producers can be deeply affordable, if one buys carefully, yet will provide an awful lot of pleasure. People claim that Burgundy is difficult to understand; idleness seems a poor reason to miss out on some good experiences. I certainly do not mind applying myself to maximise the pleasure of myself and my guests.
As one of my favourite wine makers puts it, “Burgundy is best!”