22 Apr Tesco Every Day Value Spanish White Wine – A Review
Tesco Every Day Value Spanish White Wine – A Review
“Uncomplicated wine, great taste.” These words are printed in green ink upon the rectangular tower of white recyclable cardboard, the carton that houses this litre of cheap Spanish wine that I’ve been called to write about. I have been appointed the futile task of trying to explain to you its gentleness, its deceptive tang that I’ve been raving about to anyone within earshot over the past few days in the village. The explanation offered on the carton, of course, is a comical understatement: for uncomplicated, read strange; for great, read overwhelming.
Now, join me: I pick up the carton and I bounce it about in my hands, I turn it on its side and caress it with tender strokes like I would the naked hip of a Dutch whore. It is a full object in itself: it requires no further perfection. I bounce it against the walls of my room and off the linoleum floor; its contents make only the slightest swish amid the turbulence. It is bulging, bursting, throbbing, but so perfect that it pains me to turn and unscrew the cap and crack the tendrils of the seal one by one with the irrevocable motion of my thumb and index finger, propelled by the helpless wrist of my right arm, barely mine anymore for thirst, and then: the ascending near-effluvium reaches my nostrils and within milliseconds ferments into a gratifying fragrance, like an estranged lover emerging from behind willow trees at dusk. I place the carton down on my desk and wring my hands, hyperventilating like a dog, for this tired ecstasy is within reach once more, and I’m so nervously aware of it.
The pour: an act of deliberation one should never undertake without an appreciation of balance. I minutely raise the heel of my left foot and while doing so I raise the carton in my right hand about a half-foot above my head. With my left hand I raise the glass up to the level of my heart (by now beating desperately) and suspend it there, awaiting consecration… With meticulous glee I tilt the carton, gently over, gently over, until at last… The initial fall and splash release wet silver hymns into the tense air, holy trills of spillage trickle onto a bed of deep splendor, accretions of cobalt and titanium yellow rising and rising in the glass right up to the brim, and suddenly I must halt the rushing effluence by felling the carton from its drooping height and back to its gnomic pose on my writing desk…
I put the vintage glass down and gaze upon it. There, there stands the glass: the Euclidean foot, timeless, a transcendental circle purer than any thought that could fluster my impassioned brain; the very ghost of geometry seems to hover within and about it. The weeping stem that curves inward so gently in deference to that which it underpins: the imperious bowl. The wide and imperious bowl now challenging me to imbibe its radiant innards. There stands the glass, seemingly tangible, but how? How could it not be a dream? The miniscule bubbles have now settled and vanished, the liquid’s dark high epicenter flushes out into a crystal lemon hue and at the very bottom disperses into a lurid white light as bright as the heavens are sometimes portrayed to be, and a moist temperate vapour meets my fingertips as I take hold of the chalice, my proud enchantress.
What could it be? The common grape of Airzen? The wild Chenin Blanc? The pernicious Albillo? Surely not the Loureiro, and surely not the bold, seductive Favorita? None of these, no. The carton doesn’t say, the carton is unwritten with intent, leaves you to mull over its mystery, the unfathomable nose. It is not sturdy, no. It is not full-bodied, nor is it flabby. Rather, it is a stream of hidden effervescence, a wet trail of quenching that gleams on the tongue—but will that do? Not quite. You want more, you want to be rescued from my abstractions, my indulgences. Yet, I am helpless, and so now I fill my pipe and a second glass of the stuff, none the wiser as to its true properties…
It begins to exasperate me. It is not joy that I experience, it is not that illusory sense of reward that makes puppets of us all as we return and return again to the jars of poison that rob us first of youth and then of dignity and then finally of life itself. It is something new, something I neither fear nor desire. Without awareness of my doing it, I undo the laces of my hobnail boots and reach for the wooden stool in a dusty corner of my room, all the while staring at the white cardboard carton. It seems to mock me now, with its unperturbed posture on the desk, its indifference to my confusion. It seems to raise its eyebrows and say, “Laurence, what on earth are you still doing here?”
I grab the carton and clench it in my right hand, I squeeze it until its contents erupt from its top and spray out onto the floor, I squeeze it and twist it until it is a mangled mess of angles, then I attempt to rip it, but its structure proves too strong for my feeble arms, so I take it between my teeth and with savage determination I tear it open, and soon it is no longer an object at all but a pile of disparate shreds, spread out and drenched in a puddle of the very wine it formerly contained.
I realize now that I am liberated. My thoughts and feelings take flight like butterflies in mist, and I sense escalation. I fall to my knees (and hear the holy voices) and I mop up the remains of the wine with my hands and apply it to my chest and neck as if it were cologne. It is apparent to me now that this is more than a drink. It is the potent perfume at last released from the shackles of its packaging, its debasement, its cardboard conjuror. To drink it or not to drink it? It simply does not matter—for it is a perpetual thing in itself, built from energy particles that never expire, but simply mutate. I lie on the wet floor and pet one of the legs of the dusty stool as if it were a cat or a gerbil. My heart filled with laughter, I dream of childhood trips, and crave another of Tesco’s Every Day Value cartons, another duel, another tryst with this illusive beast.