The limits of pleasure are yet to be defined or reached

So said Brillat-Savarin, and he has had a cheese named after him so he must have been a gentleman of taste and style. When I think back to some of the wines I’ve savoured and reported on in this spume of drivel I have to say I agree. I recall wines like the various Clos des Lambrays, the Rousseau Chambertin, all of the Boxler Rieslings (that man is some form of demi-god) and the Mission ’75 I remember the incredible pleasure they gave me. Pleasure like that is almost tangible, it thrills, excites and charms me to a nigh lewd extent. This is why I take notes to remind me precisely how much nicer nice things are than nasty things.

Much as these wines are excellent in themselves, to extract maximum pleasure you need people of taste to share them with. I am very lucky in that I have a partner who is extremely knowledgeable about and interested in fine wine. A bottle shared, discussed and loved with my love is a particular pleasure that few things can touch. Friends are good too. When I opened the Lambray 2002 our shared smiles as we put glasses to our noses were a delight. Wine is a very good social lubricant; to share such wonders makes everyone happy, more engaged and more social. As Richard Burton put it, “I have to think hard to name an interesting man who does not drink.”

Wine is such an ephemeral pleasure. Those few mouthfuls you get from a glass will be the only time you try that wine in that condition; the next bottle will be subtly different. To pop a fine bottle of wine is to have a fleeting grasp of perfection; you have to be awake to all the possibilities your small measure will provide. Miss the chance and you’ll never have that experience again. I’ve occasionally joked that alcohol is a magic potion: it makes you funny and popular. The inherent interest in a bottle of fine wine probably makes it a magic potion: its interest rubs off onto the company consuming it.

With christmas coming I have a few damned-good bottles planned along with plenty of top food. These will be shared in good humour with my partner and friends. We’ll be happy and feel good.

I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day – Frank Sinatra