It was bound to happen eventually. I had gone months, if not more than a year, without tasting a white wine I found truly difficult to drink.
On the flipside, there have been many red wines along the way I found to be fairly vile (not including corked or oxidised bottles), but when it came to white wine it was all drinkable to one degree or another.
Clearly this should have given me reason to worry. Instead, I merrily went along with my daily business believing all was good in the world.
And then the offending bottle came into my life, a Calvet La Fleur Baron. Like a bad relationship, it was all wrong from the start. I should have avoided it before it began, but hindsight is a perfect science, as they say.
Yes, it was only £4.50, but I’ve never been one to believe price on its own is a determining factor. No, the signs lay elsewhere.
First, I bought it at Asda. I never shop at Asda. I haven’t liked Asda for, well, ever, and so the fact I was in there, buying not just one bottle of wine but two of them (they were on ‘sale’ apparently) in a part of Greater Manchester called Chadderton, could only mean bad news.
Second, in order to buy said bottle of wine I cycled to this Asda with my friend, Tim, on a fairly grim Friday afternoon when bad weather was rolling in and the sun was setting quickly.
It was cold. The traffic was frenetic. And the people in the store all looked like something out of the zombie apocalypse. All the signs of a bad relationship were there in front of me but I never saw them.
The tipping point, of course, was on the ride home from the supermarket – in the dark. Tim had been leading the way and himself narrowly avoided being side-swiped by someone driving a generic people carrier. He stormed off in anger to catch up the faux minivan, while I made the mistake of trying to follow. The traffic was dense and backed up. The sun had set. It was eery out there.
And that was when it happened. Just as I was sneaking along a line of stopped cars I saw another trying to cut through to a side road. I accelerated in vain to avoid it. BANG. The car hit my rear wheel and sent my blinking red light flying. My bike was out of control and I had to lean hard to the right to avoid slamming into a car on the left.
It was a hairy moment. Had I been carrying the wine I’d be tempted to believe, in hindsight, this was an attempt by some higher force to destroy it before it could reach my lips.
Despite that horrific experience, I was unscathed although a little bit shaken and a whole lot relieved.
And that is exactly how I felt every time I took a sip of this wine. It’s a horrific and frightening moment that you think could result in your demise. But then it’s suddenly over and you realise you’re still standing and, remarkably, uninjured.
When I shared this wine with Tim and his girlfriend, the initial reaction was negative across the board. For me, it smelled of hair salons. You know, that pungent odour of hair perming solution that lingers in the air. I thought it would go away with air or more chilling. But the stink remained.
There might have been decent fruit in this wine, but it seemed flabby and disjointed. It left a sharp taste in the mouth that made me want to do anything but drink more.
Worst of all, despite all three of us drinking a moderate amount of this wine, we all complained of worse-than-normal headaches the following morning.
Lucky for Tim he still has the second bottle of this misfit in his pantry.