Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Are you guilty of wine crimes?

What crimes against wine have you committed? Photo / Thinkstock
What crimes against wine have you committed? Photo / Thinkstock

One afternoon I decided that a nice cold chardonnay with dinner would be in order. So I put a bottle in the freezer intending to give it a good chill for an hour or so before transferring it to the fridge. Needless to say, I forgot about it and the contents had frozen solid by evening.

"I have a bottle of frozen chardy wrapped in a tea-towel and roasting in a warm oven. Is this odd?" I asked a sympathetic friend by text. "What's odd is you don't have three bottles chilling in the fridge like normal people," she replied, not quite as sympathetically as I'd expected.

As far as crimes against wine go, I'm quite proud of that one. My initial forgetfulness and lack of preparation were followed up with initiative, determination and perseverance. I rescued that wine - and poured each glass as it slowly defrosted before savouring its, er, icy warmth.

I have two other bad habits associated with wine. If a restaurant serves (white) wine warmer than I'd like, I surreptitiously drop an ice-cube into my glass for a few seconds.

It does wonders with the temperature and is well worth the imperceptible dilution that must also occur.

And, if a restaurant waiter delivers a glass of wine before I've quite finished the current one I have been known to tip the remnants into the fresh glass. Since only about one-third of the new and supposedly "full" glass is likely to be occupied this doesn't seem like the world's worst habit. I know it's low-rent, though, so I usually wait until the waiter's back is turned before executing this manoeuvre.

Sometimes it's the waiters themselves who commit the crimes. The most unforgiveable thing they can do to me is remove a glass that still has a centimetre or so of wine left in it. Chances are I know exactly how much is left and I'm subconsciously anticipating the moment I drink the rest of it. I usually keep a good grip on the glass if a waiter is hovering but sometimes they do a commando raid and the last of my chardonnay is heading to the dishwasher before I can say, "How could you? I was saving that."

Of course, in the privacy of your own home you can commit wine crimes with abandon.

Once or twice, if the corkscrew has broken halfway through extracting a cork from a bottle of wine, I've snapped off the protruding cork and painstakingly pushed the remaining cork (usually in pieces) back into the bottle with the handle of a fork. Any floating bits of cork were removed by sieving the wine. Voilà.

Although it always seemed a little desperate - as if I could have been just a few steps away from swigging from a hipflask in a brown paper bag while walking down the street - whenever I did this, it seems I'm not alone in my enthusiasm to break into a bottle of wine. Proof positive that others face the same challenge is Seven ways to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew which includes such advice as: "Bore a hole in the cork & t[i]e a big knot in a string. Shove that thing down there & then simply pull up hard on the rest of the string." But, as one commenter pointed out, once you've bored a hole you can simply pour the wine and strain it. D'oh!

These days hankering after a buttery chardonnay is considered a wine crime because evidently such wines are unsophisticated and behind the times. The "fat, buttery expressions of NZ's yesteryear eventually fell out of favour", says Glengarry. One wine blogger explains that: "winemakers think 'big, bold, buttery Chardonnay' is the vinous equivalent of zip up grey shoes. Beyond uncool .... Their new Chardonnay buzz words are 'elegant' and 'linear'." And this is why expressing a preference for a robust chardy over a more subtle and refined version may well elicit a lukewarm response. Sometimes it's obvious the wine waiter is thinking: "Hello! The nineties just called and they want their wine-style back."

What crimes against wine have you committed?

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Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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