An introduction to wine

This week’s Remember the Time Blog Hop has the theme: Alcohol

Remember the Time Blog Hop

Those who know me will probably not believe that I used to dislike the taste of wine. No really, listen. Will you stop doing that? Will you please stop laughing? Oh never mind…

Back in the day wine was not an everyday sort of drink as it is now (or is that just me?). My parents went to dinner parties and dances where my mum might choose a spirit and a mixer, my dad a beer or a stout, maybe rounding off the evening with a good, straight Irish whiskey. Wine was something that might be drunk occasionally, with a meal, a bottle being easily enough for four people. It was bought in specially for an occasion and finished on the night.

Then my father discovered the home wine making kit. He would sit in our cold kitchen (no central heating in those days) and work his way, step by step, through the instruction booklet. Sachets were opened, liquids mixed and drawn through flexible pipe to sit in enormous glass jars. These were then sealed and carefully carried upstairs to the airing cupboard to sit amongst the towels and sheets in the only space in the house that was always warm.

wine-making-equipment-kit-275

My mother was not impressed when one of the jars, previously filled with a red liquid, erupted all over her clean laundry.

Undaunted my father continued. When the required time had elapsed the bottling commenced, and then we waited. The opening of a batch was an occasion, so my sister and I were permitted a taste of this strictly adult drink. I was not impressed. Over the years I would accept an occasional half glass to appear grown up, but I did not derive enjoyment from the beverage.

Jump forward a few years to when I was old enough to drink alcohol and did. I was taken out to dinner on a date and my young suitor, presumably in an attempt to impress, purchased a bottle of white wine to go with our meal. Tentatively I tried it and was amazed to discover that the taste pleased me. I decided that Liebfraumilch must be quality stuff and confidently recommended Blue Nun and Black Tower to anyone who asked.

And then one summer, at the end of my first year at university, I was invited to a house party and instructed to bring a bottle. As an impoverished student I could not afford the purchase, so my father kindly stepped in with a selection from his recent home made. I gratefully accepted, idly wondering how it would be received.

On arrival I set the bottles in the kitchen and left them there until the party was in full swing. When opened and shared there were no complaints. On the contrary, several imbibers seemed pleased with the effects produced. Even I, still not a regular wine drinker at that stage, could see that it beat the sweet wines from my recent past hands down.

Perhaps my father had improved with practice, perhaps I had been too young to appreciate his original efforts. Whatever the truth of the matter, he no longer makes his own wine so I cannot compare his creations with those I enjoy today. All I know is that, in the early eighties, his wine was fully appreciated by the student drinkers who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. And we all had the hangovers to prove it.

To read the other posts in this Blog Hop, click on the linky below.

Weekend thoughts

I have been immersed in my book for much of the weekend. I will talk more of this when I have reached it’s end and have had time to process the many threads of the plot, the ideas explored, and have decided if any of the characters are to be liked or admired as seems to be expected. Too often I find that an author writes in a weakness, a flaw, that changes my perception of an otherwise admirable person. Their life’s work is tarnished by their inability to be faithful to those who were close to them and trusted them.

I lay great store by how a person treats those who support and rely on him. Academic ability, commercial success, even a great contribution to society will become less impressive to me if the person has not treated his family and friends as they deserve. As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela I find myself holding back. How must his family have felt when he put his country’s needs before them? Perhaps no great things would ever be achieved if there were not men willing to do this. Perhaps his family were supportive and proud that he did not give up on the apparently impossible dream that he helped make come true. I did not know him. I do not know if he was a good man, only that he achieved remarkable advances for his country.

I am sceptical of those in the limelight. I wonder who supports them unseen to enable them to climb to such heights. Have they shown due gratitude for the support, or trampled on those who got in their way?

My social media feeds are full of mixed messages today. The government of this country appears to be outdoing itself with it’s wasteful spending alongside withdrawal of financial support for those most in need. Cogently written comment pieces abound yet the policies of suppression continue. Perhaps we too need a powerful figurehead to shake up the establishment and orchestrate change.

Alongside these depressing, political postings are the photographs of friends as they enter into the spirit of the festive season. When I declined the various invitations that I received I wondered how I would feel, if I would regret missing out on the dinners and parties. For this year at least I find that I am deriving enjoyment from afar. My lovely friends look so fine and happy in their party dresses, but I am not wishing that I were there to join them.

On Friday evening I had a fun filled few hours at home. My husband has recently acquired an amplifier and new cables that allow our old turntable to be linked into the digital music system that runs through our house. I put on a few vinyl records and started to compare tracks against the digital recordings we have stored. I was amazed at the depth of the sound. My old vinyls may crackle under the ancient needle, but the quality of the music is rich and fabulous. Beside this the digital recordings seemed clean but void. It amused me that my teenage children complained that I was playing my music way too loud.

It was good to be home, surrounded by warmth and love. I am happy for those who are posting photographs from interesting holiday destinations, from seeing friends enjoying their outings dressed so beautifully, but I am glad not to have to face the crowds myself. I can be content with my family gatherings at home.

Perhaps today we will deck the halls, play our corny Christmas music, try to capture a little of the joy of the season. I still have much to do to ensure that expectations are met, but we are getting there. I find that I cannot close my eyes to the selfish evil and lies that our leaders perpetuate, but I can derive pleasure from the happiness of those closer to home.

It is sickening that those same leaders who will order the violent suppression of dissent at home are singing the praises of a man who fought for freedom and won; a man who was imprisoned as a terrorist yet inspired a nation and much of the world. I wonder can they even see the vainglorious irony of their words and actions.

English: The prison cell where Nelson Mandela ...

After the party

It is early on a Sunday morning. I am sitting in the family room of my house while the rest of my family sleep. I have made myself a cup of tea and am enjoying a slice of hot buttered toast – such simple pleasures suit me well. Outside it is snowing and I am worrying about my daughter who is away camping this weekend. I am also mulling over the party I went to last night, the last of a run of social events that I have been looking forward to for some time. I am wondering why I behave as I do.

Increasingly I am finding large social events a challenge. I feel as though I am acting a part and not very well. Of course, this is not an original observation. It was Shakespeare who wrote: ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’. I think that I would feel more comfortable if I could be in the audience for the performance.

The party was to celebrate the fortieth birthday of a friend. It was held in a swish cocktail bar and had obviously taken some planning. A bus had been arranged to get attendees too and from the venue where an area had been cordoned off for the sole use of her guests. There were plenty of people there and I knew a reasonable number of them. As I hadn’t seen them in some time it was a good chance to catch up and I have a rather raw throat this morning from trying to talk over the music.

The morning after the night before is perhaps not the best time to judge how I feel. Having arrived home late I have not had as much sleep as I would like. My feet are tired from standing in heeled shoes that I am not used to. My head is tired from the mixture of wine and small talk. I wonder why I feel so empty inside. I wanted to attend to celebrate this friend’s special day and she had invited a lovely group of people to a venue that worked well. When all the boxes can be ticked I can only conclude that such partying is no longer for me.

I wonder if I am trying to act in a way that I feel is expected or if this is just another aspect of my character that has changed. I seem to remember enjoying parties but cannot be sure if this was because I felt that I should. So much of what we do is influenced by what we observe around us. I wonder if I have seen others apparent enjoyment and felt that I was missing out. Was my anticipation more about fitting in than about the reality of how I am in these situations. Will I learn from how I feel this morning.

I will not try to read too much into a morning after feeling about one event. I will, however, file away the fact that in reality I am happy to spend my weekends at home with a good book or a DVD. It is fun to have an excuse to don make up and a party dress but I enjoy a walk with a friend more than a drink. I should know by now that I will not feel good about myself if I try to pretend that I am something that I am not. It would seem that I am not a party animal.

Cocktail Umbrella (Kona, Hawaii, vacation, umb...