The Vanishing

A well-known Italian babe built like a Lambrusco bottle.

Party animal, wine-lover, scientist and commentator Kwispedoor gives a low-down on drinking trends.

So I know this family member that would rather drape herself in a drenched red curtain and go running with the bulls than to allow a glass of (especially red) wine near her lips, much less swallow any of it. Going to a family braai earlier this year, I decided to take her a red wine that’ll put a crack or two in her wall of wine repulsion.

As it turned out, the little innocent Lambrusco (LIL) reduced it to ruins. One would think that, in our climate, Lambrusco should be as common as Heimlich Manoeuvre workshops for cricket coaches. But it’s not, somehow. At the mentioned braai, I only had a small taste of the LIL before it vanished down eager neighbouring throats. All I could remember from the flash experience was that it was nice, uncomplicated, not overly sweet, better than I expected and oh-so drinkable. Determined to get a proper taste, I was off to my local supermarket to get some more the next week, but by then my converted family member had swept through there and cleaned out every single last bottle?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+

I patiently explained to the wine manager (a kid who gave the impression that he got the job fresh out of grade 10 and that he reckoned in order to “find Lambrusco” he might need to ask me his age and hair colour) how to order more and bided my time. A few weeks later at the deliciously silly price of R29-95 per bottle, I bought six bottles of Cantine Di Ora Lambrusco Rosso ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Amabile. I was going to make use of my first possible opportunity to taste it. This happened to be at a church function where it was gulped down by apparently very thirsty church folk in the time it took me to turn around and greet someone.

Again I was robbed of the opportunity to get a proper taste, although the church folk assured me it was “vrek lekker”. Resigned to drinking water that refused to turn into Lambrusco, I was plotting my next move?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+

The next opportunity presented itself at my wine club’s Woodstock party. The moment we hit the heated pool, I cracked my LIL and poured myself a half-full glass. “This time nobody was going to rob me of my quest to find out what the LIL really tastes like”, I thought as I closed my eyes and immersed myself in a glorious Santana guitar solo.

The next moment when I opened my eyes my wine was gone ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ I swear I’ve no idea where it went! Fighting my way through bikini-clad women, I made a bee-line for the ice bucket, only to find a 2001 Scintilla in it with an empty LIL next to it, mocking me. Scintilla is a great way to soften a wide variety of blows, so I simply smiled and asked how the LIL was.

From learned Noble Rotter members to swigging guests everyone approved heartily, but they were all much more eloquent in describing their surprise at the way that their wine glasses seemed to have emptied its selves, than to tell me what the LIL actually tasted like. Tomorrow I’m planning to finally give the LIL a proper taste at a big-screen Blues Brothers romp, but I’ve learned by now not to hold my breath?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+

The LIL incidents reminded me again how comparatively difficult drinking the average South African wines of today has become. Sure, they generally have riper tannins and softer acids than years gone by, but winemakers’ rabid fear of any green nuances and a drive to make in-your-face monsters that stand out in competition line-ups have resulted in many over-alcoholic, contrived wines with no thumbprint of their origins.

Of course it won’t work to aim for the LIL’s 8% alcohol, but 15% alcohol red wines from places like Constantia is a missed opportunity, to put it mildly. I guess it should come as no surprise that (as it stands now) Wine Magazine’s current online poll reveals that only 54.55% of respondents don’t add ice to their wine. One gets the feeling that the need to dilute is growing?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+ Balance and a certain amount of restraint goes a long way towards improving drinkability, but ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ for me ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ that’s also where the real class is mostly to be found.

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