That would be an ecumenical matter

From watching Father Ted, we all know that in a religious discussion you can’t go wrong by saying: ‘that would be an ecumenical matter.’ That way you will always sound like you know what you’re talking about. Recently I’ve been drinking wine with people with vastly more experience than me. It’s a nerve-wracking experience when a Master of Wine, leans over and says ‘what do you think?” My mind normally goes blank and all I can think of is ‘very nice.’

Recently, however, I have discovered the wine-tasting equivalent of ‘that would be an ecumenical matter.’ Here it is: ‘it seems a bit a closed to me.’ Doesn’t sound that impressive, does it? All it means is that the wine in question isn’t tasting of very much at the time. This could be because the wine is too young, too cold, isn’t very good, has only just been opened or, and this is the best part, just because your nose isn’t working as well as it should do on that particular day (top wine writer Fiona Beckett writes on this phenomenon here.) Once you say ‘it’s a bit closed’, people will normally nod and say ‘mmmmm I think you’re right’ or they might disagree but you’ll always sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Photo courtesy of Hat Trick productions. 


About Henry

Henry Jeffreys was born in London. He has worked in the wine trade, publishing and is now a freelance journalist. He specialises in drink and his work has appeared in the Spectator, the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Oldie and Food & Wine magazine. He was a contributor to the Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury 2013) and his book Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass was published in November 2016.
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8 Responses to That would be an ecumenical matter

  1. Alison Finch says:

    Top advice, as always Henry. Although I’m rarely in that kind of company….

  2. Henry says:

    Next time we have lunch, you must have wine and then I’ll ask you what you think. . . .

  3. Chaz Folkes says:

    An excellent response. I’ll file this away for future reference…

  4. jamesaspackman says:

    Henry this is spot on. I’m sure you’ve also explored the follow up of “I wonder if it’ll open up a little in the glass” buying you time to think up other bluffy things to say …

  5. Henry says:

    That’s just it though rather than calling it thinking up ‘bluffy things to say,’ I prefer to call it accessing my mental wine notes archive.

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  7. Daniel Pitt says:

    Thanks to Father Ted, if anyone asks me a question I don’t know the answer to my immediate response is ‘That would be an ecumenical matter’ – to the bewilderment of family members and friends! Now there is something else to say if ever I find myself in high social circles knowing that I only know what a cheap bottle of plonk looks like, so thanks for this.

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