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Friend of mine was giving a dinner party for some people he wanted to impress (parents of his next ex-wife and so on) and dropped by the local bottle store on his way home from work. A whisky drinker, he purports to know nothing about wine. He always said he refuses to be a wine snob, so he’d rather know nothing about fermented grape juice than make a fool of himself in the old “oh, a Bordeaux is a claret,” tradition.

However, he had heard that generally speaking the older a wine is, the better it tastes. Unless it’s a white wine and then only some taste better – see what I mean about the dangers of being a wine snob?

He says to the young woman behind the counter (tattoos and hair colouring that looks as if a parrot flew into the side of her head and died there): “Can you recommend a good vintage wine?” Blank stare. “Got any really old wines?”

“Jeez, all our wines are fresh!” she snaps back.

Reminds me of the theology student looking for a Hebrew Bible. He goes to Hebrew bookshop and asks the old geezer behind the counter for an Old Testament. The old geezer replies: “How old?”

This same friend, who eventually went home with 6 bottles of Chateau Lib, stops off at a seedy hotel in the deep platteland one day and has to use the outside toilet because the hotel plumbing has finally given in. In the outbuilding he spies a rusty bath tub filled with wine bottles, some with the remains of labels on them. He buys the lot off the bemused owner at R1 a shot. Half of them would take the enamel off a mug, but the rest are pure nectar.

He’s no longer with us, he died of cirrhosis of the liver some time back. That’s what you get for buying wine as an investment. The bottles lie there mocking you, daring you to uncork them. Mind you, a former neighbour, an eye surgeon, built himself a fancy wine cellar with all the bells and whistles and stocked it with some serious wines from famous Western Province estates. Then he really got bitten by the wine bug and went to France and Italy for 3 months on a combined winetasting/buying adventure.

When he returned home, the gardener had drunk his way through half the cellar and died from alcohol poisoning. All those dusty green bottles going to waste, he must have thought. At least he died happy.

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