Your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

“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.

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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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5 Responses to Your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

  1. Ha ha ha Tres amusant! Bet you’d have some prejudices about the Croatian white wine I’m drinking – has the most unusual mix of blossom/floor polish/bitterness going on, but am drinking it anyway out of stubbornness! Chin chin.

  2. Henry says:

    What is it? I love some Croatian wines. That’s a very good description of some I’ve had (in a good way.)

    • Hi, the wine is called Traminac (2011), from Ilok Cellars, Ilocki Podrumi. It was only enjoyable extremely chilled, then caused all my sinuses to flare up! It might be really well regarded, but something tells me it’s a bit of an aquired taste. Tonight I have a bottle of white Sauvignon called ‘Gaj’ 2011 from a vineyard called Mladine. Wish me luck…

  3. Sally says:

    Equal opportunities taster – love it! With you on PInotage…I’m still not convinced. Have you tried the Pinot Noir from Sharpham?

  4. Emma says:

    Couple of suggestions.
    – Pinotage: Hidden Valley; they add a slug of Viognier & Shiraz, which does it a lot of good.
    – Kiwi Pinot – Dog Point are lauded for their Sauvignons, but it’s their Pinot which floats my boat. Awesome stuff.

    I’d say the problem for me generally with Kiwi Pinots is that I find a lot of them somewhat passionless, if exquisitely made. I also suspect that they’re released too early for my tastes, before the alcohol’s settled down; I like my Pinot with a little less punchiness. To this end, a few years ago I bought a set of Felton Road’s cuvees, and will be drinking them soon in an effort to discover if I’m right!

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