“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov
“Your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight.” – Steven Morrissey
Prejudices are wonderful things. You can tell a man by his prejudices. A prejudice is a one off judgement that you hold onto for the rest of your life. They can be irrational but they can also be based on a good piece of evidence e.g. I went to the White Horse in Parson’s Green and didn’t like the braying twats at the table next door ostentatiously arguing over who would pay the bill: ‘no seriously Jasper, fuck the fuck off, I’ll pay’ one of them said waiving his gold card at the nonplussed waitress. From this you can deduce that all former public schoolboys are wankers. Congratulations, you now have a prejudice. Luckily it’s a socially acceptable one so you won’t get arrested for tweeting about it. I’d like to add that it’s not our fault we speak so loudly. If every day of your life someone had shouted ‘speak up Jeffreys! don’t mumble!’ then you too would have a loud braying voice. Anyway I digress, prejudices!
I used to love my wine prejudices: Australian wine is jammy, English a joke and Pinotage unspeakable. When I became wine writer for the Lady I decided to confront them head on. I would go out of my way to drink wines that I would normal avoid. I take my duties extremely seriously and don’t want readers missing out on the fabulous world of wine because of my bigotry. I wrote last year:
“This year I’m to approach all wines with an open mind including ones that I normally avoid. This means you Pinotage, Australian Shiraz and any still wine from England. I will be become an equal opportunities taster, celebrating the diversity of the wine world rather than taking refuge, little Englander-like, in the comforting flavours of the old world.”
So how have I got on? Well I think I might be up for a Commission for Racial Equality award because I doubt there is anyone doing more to celebrate diversity in wine than me. Australian shiraz? Well not only do I now love Australian wine but I’ve learned to love that big rather malty style of shiraz that I used to think was vulgar. It’s not vulgar – it’s just plain delicious. This year I even fell for the ne plus ultra of Oz shirazes, the Dead Arm from d’Arenberg. Tick!
With English wine I wasn’t doing quite so well, I’d had lots of very good sparklers and some reasonable stills, but then last week I had an English chardonnay, Gusbourne Guinevere 2011, that tasted blind I would have said new wave Australian – very dry, very chic, and expensive – superb stuff. And if you’re a fan of very light German reds, their Pinot Noir isn’t bad either. Tick! Another prejudice down.
And Pinotage, well I have tried. I’ve really tried, I’ve drunk lots and I’ve drunk them with an open mind. I don’t want to dislike it. I like nothing better than being a contrarion. It would be cool to champion this underdog but sadly I haven’t found anything that I would want more than one glass of. Still the Warwick Old Vine Pinotage wasn’t bad – nicely smoky, smooth and with only the smallest whiff of burnt plastic.
The best thing about prejudices is that as soon as you demolish old ones, some new ones spring up. My latest is New Zealand Pinor Noir. I’m just not convinced and I’m really looking forward to being proved wrong.