Relevant Complexity 4) Red Wine



I generally watch my booze intake. Waking up with a fuzzy head and furry tongue isn’t a good mixer with effervescent children. But last weekend I fancied a tipple. There being no red wine in the house – due to my austerity measures – I found a slightly-less-than Stella Artois.

Reassuring alcohol hit – but the boast of ‘only four ingredients’ rang true. Unless it’s very very cold it’s just another fizzy beer. Not much ‘relevant complexity’ unless you have a skinful in which case it’s likely the wrong sort.

By this stage we were half way through a gripping film, so I decided to raise the stakes. Enter an unopened bottle of Baileys, bought for Christmas, dug from the back of a cupboard. No ice, but cream is always nice I thought. Yeeuch. Warm, thick, saccharine sweet gloop. That was the end of booze for the week.

Yesterday though, the missus had friends round for their book club. And in exchange for my baked Aubergine Parmigiana – result: two bottles of red on the sideboard! I’ve just opened the cheeky Rioja.

Mmmmm. Relevant complexity returns. Warm crushed red fruit, complex bouquet, smooth on the taste buds and gently down the throat. Marvellous.

As a health colleague of mine – then in charge of UK ‘liver policy’ – once pointed out, it’s all ethanol in the end. But the point of red wine is ‘relevant complexity’. I’m no connoisseur but I learnt a bit about reds living in France and on pre-kiddie holidays in the winelands of South Africa and Australia.

Someone else can write the book, but the combination of grape, terrain, sunshine and rain packages plain old ethanol in a very beguiling wrapper.

Distinguishing your ‘legs’ from your ‘noses’, youth from maturity, new world from old, ‘terroir’ from ‘tinto’ is a life’s work. And one I’m certainly looking forward to – in due moderation.

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