The Flâneur

Miscellany > Demon Alcohol

Glory be to God for ......

Greetings to any gentle souls who may happen upon these musings in the Flaneur. I debate with myself the wisdom of revealing my identity and decide anonymity is my wisest course of action. Should I cause vitriolic criticism and drive browsers in their droves away from the website vowing never to return then I can do the decent thing, deny all knowledge and be safe from an angry backlash especially as I hope to be far from politically correct. If on the other hand I get rave reviews and women begging me to father their children then I might reveal my identity (false of course I'm not stupid; fuck off CSA). So you can instantly see the strength of my character and dedication to the fence upon which I am currently, like a mighty Colossus, astride. Although a brief perusal of the site shows that I am not alone in pursuing anonymity.

Now a little history. About six or seven, or was it nine or ten, years ago, my memory of events is as usual somewhat unclear, the idea of getting off the ground a small publication conspicuous by the notion that the success of the project was assured even if nothing was published was mooted. I was delighted to be part of a group of people whose grandiose plans involved no work whatsoever should I decide to wholeheartedly adopt the philosophy that to publish was good and not to publish was just as good. I could with some legitimacy claim to to be a wine correspondent. So I duly wrote and submitted an article after, of course, some months of delay. So in the first edition of the Flaneur (do websites have editions?) is the second article of my column. The first article will be recycled, not in a modern ecologically sound way but in a more prosaic spirit of intellectual laziness. Why create work when you can dust off something older. P.G. Wodehouse used phrases more than once in different books.

In Castalian fashion I shall use as a springboard the nom de plume of the author of the Salutations article on the Flaneur's homepage - De Vouvray.

The Loire is the longest river in France and one of its' regions Touraine contains the appellation Vouvray, which is also the name of a small town. Vouvray is a white wine made from the Chenin Blanc grape also known locally as Pineau de la Loire and Pinot Blanco in South America and Mexico and Steen in South Africa. It can be sweet or dry or even sparkling. Unfortunately being French the wine-makers often neglect to put on the labels of the wines wether it is sweet or dry. The sweet versions are generally superior to the dry ones and can cost an arm and a leg for a good one. They can also age indefinitely so if you are looking to buy a wine made in the year of an aged relatives birth then a sweet Vouvray is one to consider.

Now what do the three pics above have in common? Does anyone recognise the anatomical specimen on the left? Fear not the answer is, as you are all doubtlessly aware, a quince. With an admirable symmetry the knife in the middle with which it might be separated from it's tree is a Browning Quince Lockback CODE: BR-306 a snip at £53.95 and the jolly looking portrait on the right is of course Thelma Quince a Research Fellow at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, who in 2001 penned the seminal 'Entrepreneurial collaboration: terms of endearment or rules of engagement' CBR WP No. 207. Nice one Thelma.

By now you may be asking where is this leading? I'll tell you. When you read books and articles about wine you will see the smells and tastes of various wines compared to a plethora of other commonly (?) encountered items every body has in their larder.

For the table below I am indebted to Jim LaMar and the website Professional Friends of Wine which I cynically, in the spirit of Flaneurship?, Flaneurmanship?, ripped off.

The most frequently encountered (but not exclusive) smell and/or flavor elements found in Chenin Blanc-based wines include:

Back to quinces. I am vaguely aware that a fruit called a quince exists but until I Googled "images of quinces" I would not have recognised one if it was put in front of me. I am still unable to tell you what one smells or tastes of. (Chenin Blanc of course duh!) If I had to bet my mortgage on one thing it would be that I could not pop down to the local Tesco and buy one (I said the same thing about the Liverpool- Chelsea Champions League semi-final so I'm not going to). So where and when did the association of quince and Chenin first arise? I don't know for certain but a reasonable guess would be that as there is a town in Touraine called Quincy the association arose there among the locals. But we can do better than that. Let me self-hypnotise myself and regress to a prior incarnation as a wealthy Victorian gentleman. In the fashion of the time I would not be able to work in the factories that my grandfather created with nothing but the sweat of his brow and would have to find pursuits more worthy of my elevated status. I would of course not be averse to living off the proceeds of those dark Satanic mills (if God has her capital G then I suppose Satan merits his own capital). As a wealthy Victorian gentleman it is not permitted to live a life of idleness, the work ethic was king. So a liking for wine could not be merely a pleasure it would have to be pursued with rigour and cataloguing grape varieties and their tastes and scents into an encyclopaedic volume would be the least to be done. Likewise a Victorian gentleman would have a serious garden, something along the lines of Kent springs to mind. So when walking engrossed in thought about describing adequately an obscure French offering I find myself face to face with my head gardener who has a peculiar fruit in his hands. Upon enquiry as to the name and origin of the fruit I am told that is a quince from France. Taking my trustworthy Browning Quince Lockback CODE: BR-306 a snip at £53.95 I cut open the fruit smell and taste it and think immediately of that French offering. I rush home to complete an entry in the encyclopaedia and inform my darling wife Thelma in a spirit of entrepreneurial collaboration. Then to the brothel...

Now count backwards 9..... 8.... 7... 6.. 5. 4 and come back to the future. Where was I? Quinces, bear with me we're almost there. I have never smelled or tasted a quince but I am reliably informed that tart is not an adequate description and people who have bitten into their flesh and experienced their face puckering qualities have gone on to win gurning competitions years later. In the spirit of research I bought a bottle of cheapish South African Chenin Blanc which I will not name to protect the guilty (actually I threw the bottle out - empty of course and can't remember what it was), but it was not a great drink. So comparisons which once meant something, I bet Mrs Beaton cooked a mean quince pie, persist and become meaningless over time.

Briefly back to the table when was the last time you tasted or smelled a flint. Let me regress myself to a prior existence as a stone age maker of the finest flint axes.......And gym socks? I am sure that any true Flaneur would agree with the maxim "If you feel the urge to exercise lie down until the feeling wears off".

To round off this humble offering Glory be to God for what?

Glory be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;?

No Glory be to God for Fino Sherry. I am certain If Gerard Manley Hopkins had penned the first four words and then had a sip or five of well chilled Fino he would have ended the line Glory be to God for Fino Sherry and thought "I'll stop right there".

Which after pointing out that ASDA do a rather good Manzanilla and Scatchards an excellent Fino called Panesa both for under a fiver, so will I.

Your very good health