Wine & Food

    Sniff out those who prattle on about drinking (iStock)

    Beware the drinks bores!

    14 June 2018

    In theory, there are many advantages to drinking. The weight of the world can feel lighter after just one sip. Many happy memories are made in a hazy fog of semi-drunkenness. There is however one gargantuan drawback – and that is the danger of running into a drinks bore. There’s always one: a member of the party who talks about drinking more than actually drinking, who knows it all – every grape from every vine since the beginning of time and so on and so forth. Here are the five drinks most likely to attract the biggest crashers….

    Bloody Mary

    Question: What do you do if you’re lost in the desert? Answer: Start making a Bloody Mary and lots of people will miraculously appear to look over your shoulder and tell you that you’ve got the recipe wrong. God willing, I have never been adrift in the desert, but I am almighty pleased that I shall be armed with this excellent survival technique should such an unfortunate event occur. The desert escape trick is one of my father’s favourite jokes, but in fact it is no laughing matter. The options with Bloody Mary are endless. A dash of sherry? How much Lea & Perrins? Ice, no ice or ice in the jug while the concoction is made and then removed for serving? Will plain old salt do if no celery salt can be found? I could go on all day. Lily-livered individuals can become apoplectic at a perceived Bloody Mary infraction. Apoplectic – or ‘unspeakably boring’ to put it another way.

    Craft beer

    Darkening the doors of a British pub used to be a simple and pleasant task. You’d walk in, order your beer and packet of crisps, sit down in a corner and watch the world go by. No longer. For these days, the unsuspecting punter is bombarded with 400 choices of beer: microbreweries are cropping up all over the land, each one producing its own craft beer which will inevitably have some wacky story behind it and a small fortune attached to it. And if you’re not an unsuspecting customer, you’re a suspecting customer, which in this case is a greater sin. Craft ale hipsters in thrall to tipples called things like Un-human Cannonball Triple IPA and Hypnopompa Pecan Mud Imperial Stout. Brewdog, one of the best known craft breweries, has described itself as the ‘post-punk, apocalyptic, motherf***** of a craft brewery’ which I suppose could be considered an effective marketing campaign, because if that doesn’t drive you to drink, I don’t know what will.

    Sweet wine

    I’m not big on sweet wine, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I don’t feel I’m missing out. This is largely due to the conversation that is sparked by someone producing a bottle of the stuff. Sweet wine is always presented with some sort of explanation that indicates a sense of superiority and expertise on the part of the profferer. Furthermore, it is often served as an accompaniment to foie gras, and every time this ritual is performed, the exhibitionist offering the wine speaks as if marrying the two is revolutionary. In fact, sweet wine and foie gras is as old as Jack and Jill. Sweet wine can of course be delicious (eg. Monbazillac) but it is systemically delivered with a vintage smugness.


    It’s ironic that champagne turns people into tremendous bores, given that it is customarily associated with events of a celebratory nature. People often display an overwhelming desire to point out that they’re offering champagne, as if this demands a particular level of gratitude hitherto unexhibited. Watch out, too, for anyone who thinks its fun to shake up the bottle like a victorious Formula One driver, and avoid being trapped in dull discussions about the relative merits of other non-champagne champagnes. All you need to know on the subject is that prosecco is revolting, while cremant is decent, but still not a patch on the genuine article.


    Have you ever sat up all night, or even for a fraction of the night with a whisky drinker? Enough said.