Category Archives: Benchmark Bottles

Tales of great wines, grisly wines and the times and places they were drunk.

Novice drinker gets the wine habit

So it’s the end of the holidays, a Sunday night in the mid-1970’s (‘the decade that style forgot’). We are the only people in the huge, shadowy, purple-carpeted dining room of the Station Hotel, Perth, a place in which it was still acceptable to serve a small glass of warm, tinned orange juice and call it a starter. My father, who both knew and cared about what he drank, scoured the wine list for some time. I still wonder what else could have been on that list to make him choose what he did: the bottle that eventually sidled up to our table, peeping coyly from its battered bucket had already become shorthand for everything that went wrong with German wine-making. Where once the British had drunk quantities of hock, and Riesling was widely known and respected for the stupendous grape it is, now we had – Blue Nun. I sipped, swallowed, and that bright, fruity, almost metallic tang is still with me. Today, just the sight of a kipper tie and mullet haircut brings it surging back. Of course I thought it quite delicious, a beautiful revelation, and it set me off down the long (sometimes rocky – but that’s another story) path of wine-drinking. Even then, though, I felt instinctively that this perfect experience should be left in its own time and space and no attempt whatsoever made to recapture it.