Recently re-released cult classic, Withnail and I, is one of the most quotable films of all time and, especially revered, is a scene where the dishevelled and debauched Withnail drunkenly shatters the genteel calm of a provincial tea room with the outrageous demand, “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now!” Obviously, I don’t approve of bellicose bellowing in tea rooms but what a glorious mission statement!
In the film, Withnail’s request for the very best is refused and the police are called. Here, at Worth Brothers Wines, things are much more civilised and, twice a year, customers and friends gather to honour the charismatic anti-hero with some very special bottles of wine at the – you’ve guessed it -Withnail Club. I like to think the not-so great man would heartily approve.
Of course, film isn’t the only art form that inspires wine tasting themes. To quote a famous lyric, “Music is my first love and it will be my last.” I have to confess, to spending almost as much time making playlists for the shop as I do selecting wines. Nevertheless, it’s still a rare occasion when I get the chance to relax and listen to music properly. In this busy, permanently connected, multi-tasking world it does seems as though that little pleasure in life has been lost. At least I thought it was, until the advent of our Vinyl and Wine evenings, where, amongst likeminded people, we taste wine and listen to a classic album in its entirety.
Food themed events are always tremendously popular. None more so, than the triple headed evening of pleasure that was Champagne, Chocolate and Chips. More controversially, expletive laden chef, Gordon Ramsay, and the ‘ambitiously’ priced wines in his restaurants, inspired one of our most illuminating tastings. During the F*** That Gordon evening we tasted a selection of wines that the foul mouthed one was selling for nearly five times as much as we were charging in our shops. That’s the sort of margin that would make even a nun swear!
I’m always on the lookout for wine tasting ideas and at the moment, I’m considering starting a steak and wine club after reading of the Beef Steak Clubs that thrived in London in the early 18th century. These clubs, usually members’ clubs, were somewhat clandestine in nature and were based around an overriding love of beef steaks. The most famous of the clubs was The Sublime Society of Beef Steak whose members included actors, artists, noblemen, royalty, statesmen and valiant soldiers. Impressively, the club seems to have operated on strict egalitarian principles as even the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) was merely placed on the waiting list.
Membership of The Sublime Society required a down to earth attitude, the wearing of a ring with the words ‘Beef & Liberty’ inscribed on it and a disdain for the flamboyant, foreign food fancying, members of the dandyish Macaroni Club. Amusingly, members referred to themselves as ‘the steaks’ and, somewhat less risibly, upheld the belief that, “What´s said at Steak Club stays at Steak Club.”
I think, if a Kirk Langley Steak & Wine Club is to get off the ground, I’ll refrain from taking a dim view of those who enjoy a bit of pasta every now and then and, respecter though I am of tradition, it’s probably best to give the addressing each other as ‘steak’ thing a miss too.
For our first toast I think I’ll go for the fairly modestly priced claret, Château Moulin de Mallet 2010. After all, we steak fanciers are supposed to be down to earth!