Friends indeed

Tuesday, 1 June, 2004
Matt Barry
Wine, friends, and how to deal with the plonk offerings
We all have them. Friends. The ones who come over for a braai or whatever with a bottle of something horrible, which is produced with cries of: ‘We’ve brought you a bottle of wine!’

These friends know that we are ‘wine people’, so the easiest thing to bring to the dinner party is a bottle of wine. Unfortunately these friends are usually a throwback to our days of shooters and bakleiwyn (fighting wine), hence the perennially poor quality of their offerings. (Although it has to be said that this type of friend is infinitely more thoughtful and welcome than those friends who succumb to the thinking: ‘Oh, he/she/they work in the wine bizz, so we needn’t take anything along because they’ve always got wine.’)

Back to the scenario at hand: So, we’ve all got these friends, the: ‘TA-DAAH, a lovely bottle of plonk!’ friends’. ‘Oh, wonderful. Put that in the kitchen daa-hling,’ is the typical response. Whereupon we usually hide it in some dusty corner, possibly using it for cooking later or drinking in some emergency situation: ‘Erm … there’s no wine left. Wait! I know. There’s that bottle behind the shoes under the umbrellas.’

Surely there must be an effective way to rid ourselves of persistent, plonky presents? There has to be a way to educate our friends without causing embarrassment and potential estrangement, while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that they will bring something drinkable to the party. Recently a solution both simple and daring presented itself: accept the wine with enthusiasm, open it immediately and place it on the table, directly in front of the offending party.

The rule is they brought the stuff; they damn well better drink it.

The trick here is to keep your precious elixir hidden away so you can slip away every so often, making sure you remember to take your glass for a nonchalant walk as often as emptiness demands. The purpose of this is not to deprive friends of the joy of a fine wine. Friends who bring plonk to the party generally would be happier with a beer or a gin and tonic. Good wine is wasted on them.

You’ll see. You’ll get to enjoy more of your favourite wine and quite soon those friends will be bringing something palatable along; like beer, for example.