Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Monday was wine-tasting day in Swan Valley. You know wine-tasting, it's when you go to a vineyard secretly hoping you'll be able to drink them dry without actually being obliged to buy a single bottle. You are fully aware the people who work there know this ruse too so as you enter the vineyard's tasting area and approach the counter a game of cat and mouse ensues. They are trying to sell you cases of the stuff. You just want to get pissed for free.

The clear little glases appear before you and here comes bottle number one. You pay very close attention to the little spiel the server trots out pretending you are fully aware of why 75 year old grape vines knock the socks off 70 years old grape vines and why this particular vineyard has the best soil conditions for the particular variety of grape you are about to try. As he is pouring each glass you are trying to catch his eye as if to say, "We like you. You're very knowledgeable. Please pour more in."

Not wanting to appear too much of an idiot you go through the motions of appreciation. You sniff it. You hold it up to the light. You sip and all but gargle with it. "Hmmm. Interesting that." You know they've started with a cheap wine so want to reserve any superlatives for later.

A couple of other wines follow. But whilst you are nodding at his fresh explanations of each wine's unique virtues you are trying to not look too disappointed when you only get a thimble-full of each one. Go on. Fill it up, matey.

After sipping each wine you feel obliged to say something encouraging but not too overtly enthusiastic. Something non-committal like, "nice that but a little too sweet for my taste." You want him to keep going with the selection of wines but don't want the dreaded question, "so how many cases would you like of that one then?"

By wine number four you're paying less attention to the spiel and even more attention to the amount you're getting in each glass. The sniff, inspection, sip has now been replaced by the simple down in one chug. Can I just try that one again please? No? Oh, OK. Which one's next then? All subtlety has left the building and is waiting in the car.

By wine number eight you're basically wondering whether the person behind the counter will just turn their back for a moment or two so you can pour yourself a proper full glass. All attempts to distinguish between each fresh wine are long abandoned. You just want more.

Then, all of a sudden, it's over. You have just downed some shit syrupy desert wine which rather ruined the fantastic string of reds you had been enjoying and there is nothing else to try.

At this point there's only one thing that crosses you mind. What's our escape plan? Go to the loo and don't come back? Say politely, "not quite what we we looking for today." Or do the right thing and find the second cheapest wine you've just tried (you don't want to appear cheap, right?) and buy it.

Coward that you are you choose the latter. "Will that be just the one case, sir?" asks the server. "No, just a single bottle thanks." he looks you in the eye as if you say I knew you were a time-waster when you first walked in.

We drive away a little bit tipsy and in utter agreement over three things: wine-tasting is a great way to spend an afternoon, some of those wines were really quite nice and, why didn't we buy more?!

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