In January 1986, one of our dining club friends invited us to dine at the House of Commons. The occasion was the thirtieth annual dinner of the Faculty of Architects and Surveyors. We were dressed in our best evening clothes for the occasion. It was interesting to wander through the passageways of the Houses of Parliament to reach the restaurant.
The food served was most enjoyable and there was a good selection of wines.
I made a gaff during a conversation about wines. On the table were several bottles of Macon.
Macon is the name for the red and white wines which come from the Mâconnais section of Burgundy.
The majority of wines from Macon are red, using the gamay noir, pinot noir, and pinot gris grapes. These are light wines, and are meant to be drunk young. They go well with roasts and with cheeses.
I was asked how one pronounces the name Macon. There is no cedilla under the “C”, so it is hard, so one says Mack-on. My gaff was to attempt a joke by saying Masson, (Paul Masson, get it ?) None of the people around me had ever heard of Paul Masson or his Californian wines, but they were soon told that Macon is Mackon. I should have kept my mouth shut as I normally do when people get into discussion about the virtues of individual wines.
Having met the five Englishmen who could tell vintage and chateau of several champagnes blindfold and also having spent several years wining and dining with Vittorio Della Valle, a true wine buff, I have never felt knowledgeable enough to get involved.
I have a simple rule. If I find a very good wine, I try to remember the label for future reference. If I find a wine that I do not like, I try to remember the label for future reference. It works for me.
What I cannot abide is the wine “expert” amateur or professional. People who, with whirling arms, tell us that such and such a wine tastes of raspberries or apples. If I wanted to drink something resembling raspberries, I would buy raspberry juice. If I wanted to drink something resembling apples, I would buy apple juice. I have never been able to impart to another what a wine tastes like. I believe that nobody else can do it either. The only way is to have a sip yourself. If you like it, the price is quite unimportant. If you don’t like it, the price paid, whatever it is, has to be regretted.
I also believe that price does not guarantee a fine wine. These days, it should be quite difficult to produce a poor wine.
Next chapter: Chapter 106: Lamb Chops, Chips and Peas – Dubai Style