Musty Bunches - Tales from the Spit Bucket

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In a homage to Bridget Jones, (aka Miss Big-Pants-and-Chardonnay), Musty has decided to leap on the bandwagon and release this month's column as a diary. As well as providing her adoring fans with a thrilling insight into life chez Musty, she also hopes to attract a lucrative advance for a Tales From The Spit Bucket novel and six-figure advance for the film rights.

Monday 23 April

Alcohol units: 36 (poor); cigarettes: 24 (poor, but understandable); mad old ladies: 1

St Georges Day, so off to grand tasting of English wine. Much stirring reportage in the right wing press about how it's a disgrace that the English 'don't celebrate their national day' like the Irish, Welsh, Aussies, Croats etc.
Half expect tasting to be full of "display of nationalism" Morris Dancers, but instead it's full of equally dysfunctional wine journalists, desperately trying to find something positive to say about their nation's attempts at wine. Sisyphus had it easy in comparison.
Only three drinkable bottles in whole lot, and those are three times the price of comparable efforts from New World. Even French wine looks good value by comparison.
Problem is climate. The 2000 vintage had three days of sun, and wines taste like water and lemon juice, with some soil added. Someone should tell English wine growers to pull up vines called Schicklgruber, Huxeldorfer et al and replace with Chardonnay. Or wheat.
To round off depressing day, cornered by Mad Old Bat who appeared to have come in to get out of the cold.
"Are there any sweet wines?" said MOB. "Only I don't like dry stuff, me."
Waved her towards a ludicrous specimin with 8 grammes of residual sugar and no fruit. She filled her tasting glass to the brim, downed it in one and smacked her lips like a satisfied chimpanzee.
"Harold! Harold! I've found one," she bellowed to a hunched figure across the hall, then turned her attention back to Musty. "Aren't you cold in that top? You want to wrap up. Get a sweater on. Are there any more sweet wines?"
But by then Musty was halfway out the exit, reaching for my packet of Marlboro and dreaming of a double Tanqueray and Tonic. Sometimes one has to suffer for one's art.

Tuesday 24 April

Alcohol units: 0 (detox); cigarettes: 12 (good); one-eyed foreigners: 1

Big race row simmering in Britain. "Too many foreigners. We're a country of mongrels," is one MP's helpful response. "Eet eez ze same for wine," says a winemaker friend of Musty's. "Once zis was a great market for us, but now - you 'ave so many foreigneurrrs coming in wiz zeir fancy bottles and zeir up-front fruit. It 'as ruined ze sales for zose of us who 'ave always been eeyeurrre."
Spoken like a true Brit.

Wednesday 25 April

Alcohol units: 46 (high, but unavoidable); cigarettes: 3 (packets); foie gras: 1 kilo

Off to Paris for a sneak preview of a new Cognac. New offering is tasty, smooth and complex. Hosts determined to prove that it's a "great match with food" (yawn) and force foie gras and chocolate down journalists until we feel like we are being fattened up to make our own pâté.
Drink neat cognac, cognac and tonic, cognac and coke, cognac and ice, cognac and cigars, cognac and yoghurt(!), cognac and ginger and, possibly, cognac tikka masala until we can barely stand and brandy seems as essential to life as oxygen.
"Thassaluvverlycognac," says Musty incisively at about two in the morning, 30th Gauloise clamped between her dehydrated lips. "Rillyeasyterdrink."
"I think you've really hit the nail on the head there," said la hostesse. "With this range we're trying to make cognac as accessible to new consumers as possible."
"About £90 a bottle."

Thursday 26 April

Alcohol units: 0; cigarettes: 4 (sound like Howling Wolf); deluded Germans: 6

Arrived back from Paris on the Eurotrash in time for a seminar on German wine.
"Ve had a tastink a vile ago for mempers of ze puplik who rilly liked zeir vine," said the speaker. "Und ve gafe zem six different bottles of Cherman vine. From ze classic Cherman flute bottle right up to ze high neckt Bordeaux bottle.
"Zey all said off ze flute bottle 'Zis iss terrible - ze risson zat nobody buys your vine any more iss because you give us piss like zis to trink.' And for ze bordeaux bottle, zey said 'Zis is more like it. You should make all your vines like zis in Chermany.'"
(small pause for dramatic effect)
"But it voss se same vine in every bottle!"
Either this was an elaborate joke which fell flatter than German wine exports, or it was intended to show that the only thing wrong with German wine is the shape of the bottle. Though tired, dehydrated and with a cognac hangover worth well over £90, Musty knows which option she would put her aspirins on.

Friday 27 April

Alcohol units: 29; cigarettes: 20; slashed Champagne margins: too many to count.

Much drama in Britain's supermarkets, as they queue up to slash the prices of Champagne - presumably so Britons can celebrate the wholesale incineration of the country's fluffy baa-lambs.
Is this, Musty wonders, a belated attempt to reposition the over-hyped Froggie fizz at a price level more representative of its quality? If so, it's new home somewhere between own-label cava and Seaview looks about right.

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