Wine tasting

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A fine picture of me, Fortitude F.H. Ramsbottom. My famous left nostril, scourge of the wine world, can be seen in the centre of the picture.

Salutations, vinonauts! My name is Fortitude F.H. Ramsbottom, and I shall be your guide as we embark upon a wine tasting odyssey. Steel yourself, for we shall delve deeply into the mysteries of the grape. I will bewitch thee with my explorations of some of my favourite (and unfavourite!) children of the vineyard.

It is commonly believed that wine tasting is the preserve of a tiny elite group, unfathomable to simple folk. This is the truth (inasmuch as one hates to uphold common beliefs about wine). Like the voyage of Odysseus, only a fraction of the most noble, the most worthy souls can hope to experience the joys of wine tasting, or in the case of Odysseus, survival.

Some wines you may specifically try[edit]


Afghan wines are rare to come by these days (not so in my youth, indeed, I was of the opinion that even a simple meal of garlic-scented quail's livers could be injected with a hint of the mysterious East with a dash of Kabul '57) thanks to the terrible events of 9/11. Not only was the wine shop on the 49th floor of World Trade Centre Two destroyed, taking with it several irreplaceable vintages, but the ensuing war caused the flow of Afghan wine to practically cease.

Mmmmmm! This is a harsh, uncompromising wine, driving a suicide jeep packed with explosives straight up your nostrils. A strong punchy taste leaves your tastebuds undermanned in hostile terrain, with the faint, metallic tang of a overstretched CH-47 SOI helicopter with engine trouble to keep you on your toes. The finish brings to mind ripe black seeds being gathered up, with hints of bathtubs, industrial chemicals and more trouble to come. Very addictive. Wonderful to drink with the family. Excellent wine for the drawing room or reliquary.


I have prepared a simplified chart to help you in your vino-voyage of wine discovery.

France is the home of wine (or as I like to joke, wine is the home of France! Ha ha!). I was introduced to this one by a simple French peasant, whilst on one of my fact-finding missions in the Dordogne. The fellow insisted I try it, insisting it was one of finest wines in the region. "Pshawww!" I cried, ""You cannot be serious, my friend" (since it was unknown to me). But he was most insistent, and I took the chance. And bless my soul, if the insignificant little wretch wasn't right! It has had a pride of place in my wine cavern from that day on.

Ahhhhhhh! L'Urinale is a clear white wine that emits a pungent, almost overpowering tangy fragrance. This is tempered by a clean underbase of porcelain and the smoky aroma of discarded cigarette ends. The taste is reminiscent of the last drops of dew dripping from an exposed tree root. This wine is difficult to drink with people watching. Flows easily and steers beautifully. Good to drink whilst you admire your stuffed emu collection. In private.

Neverland bubbles[edit]

A unique, but troubled Californian sparkling wine that has its admirers, but whose popularity seems to be in perpetual decline for no good reason (that I can see, anyway, and one is the world's foremost wine expert).

Ohhhhh! There's a definite hint of monkey hair and candy floss to this one, under the energetic performance of the bubbles. Delving deeper into this wine, the mingled flavours are reminiscent an overlong childhood, surrounded by other children in a big bed. The finish is drawn-out, tangy and acidic, with a long-lasting aftertaste of lawyers and horrified parents.

This wine starts out dark, but becomes lighter and more disturbing with age. Excellent with children, I always keep a small bottle on hand if the little ones are curious.[1] A showy but shy wine. Delicious served with seafood or grilled marmoset brains.


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Now, let it be said I have nothing against Russians or their wines, swill-brewing savages that they are, but Dala has always been the butt of many a joke. You can always expect a few good Dala jokes whenever vinctuliers get together, and of course, the jokes of Fortitude F.H. Ramsbottom are second to none.

Situation:A man walks into a wine merchant, and enquires if he can have a cork for his bottle of Dala.
Resolution:The assistant replies 'that transaction sounds like an suitable exchange.' (He thinks it's a swap!)

Yuck! This wine is badly designed, vulgar and unpleasant. Tends to fall apart if drunk too quickly, but embarrassing if drunk slowly. Oily aftertaste, with a hint of train timetables and worn leather. Almost impossible to get replacement corks. Amusing if offered surreptitiously to friends and relatives.[2]


A lot of my friends disapprove of wines brewed by the dark-skinned races, but I say poppycock to them. Whilst there are many bad African wines, there are many delightful ones too, if only you know where to look (and I certainly do!).

Rrrrrr! This wine is infused with tribal energy. As you might expect, this wine is exquisite with roasted baboon thigh garnished with ostrich beaks.


Here's a short selection of valuable tomes to whet your hopefully improved palate, vinonauts. But remember, you learn more from wine than you do from a book!

  • Wine, women and wine ~ A selection of anecdotes about wine and the weaker sex. Most amusing, I highly recommend it.
  • Dordogne days ~ The diary of a young, intrepid, handsome man in his journey to find out more about wine from the home of wine, France. Or as he likes to joke, wine is the home of France!


If this triumphant bouquet, with its firey aroma of cinnamon, damson berries and gently poached peacock eggs is beyond your underdeveloped proletarian palates, Wine tasting may help you salvage some dignity. But I doubt it.
  1. Careful, though, there are some bone-from-the-neck-up killjoys who will argue that you shouldn't give wine to children. I ask you! Banning order, indeed!
  2. If they don't notice, disown them.

See also[edit]