7 October 2008
By Douglas Blyde
IAN FLEMING famously described the best drink of the day as the one he 'had in his head before the first drink of the day'. Beautifully put. No doubt the 'James Bond' author developed such a thirst through his time with the navy. Right up until 1970, a 'tot' (or pint) of albeit diluted, spiced rum was administered to every sailor.
There is certainly something we find admirable in the spirit of dramatic drinkers. There exists enormous nostalgia for Oliver Read, who died of a heart attack after reportedly downing three bottles of rum and posthumously, almost won an oscar. Ironically it wasn't drink which killed Ernest Hemingway. He was reported to have a portable bar within arm's reach when relaxing and reading, but never when writing. And Winston Churchill not only loved, but also lived on his various vices.
Whilst I have attended numerous buffet style wine tastings from 10am, I tend not to swallow anything with a proof until midday. And drinking without eating is anathema.
You probably know the regularly quoted, governmentally prescribed safe drinking quota: no more than two units of alcohol per day for women and three for men. A unit incidentally equates to a small (125ml) glass of moderately alcoholic wine or half a pint of beer. I find myself fairly far from these confines on a regular basis, especially working within the wine trade.
Whilst I have not quite reached the epic consumptive heights of Hemingway or the eager anticipation of Flanner, Fleming, at least I can take solace imbibing in the name of research. Incidentally, drinking too much of anything can be perilous.
I am thinking specifically of a Californian lady who died after taking part in a water-drinking contest. Her kidneys gave way.
Last month I discovered a beautiful Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France's belly. Domaine Bart 'Les Champs Salomon' comes from Marsannay, the only village in the region to make red, white and rosé wines. This crimson coloured, dark, plump cherry, clove and chocolate scented version enthralled me. It would make a darn fine collaborator to red grouse (in season until 10 December). Available from www.oenotek.com (£120/half dozen). Incidentally, the supplier promises me that each customer will receive a complementary kiss on delivery.
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