When it comes to wine, my top three questions are ‘is it cold?’, ‘is it wise to finish this bottle all by myself?’ and ‘shall we open another one?’. But in Your Wine Questions Answered (£8.99, Citizen Press, out now) Jerry Lockspeiser offers up the answers to 25 others.
These range from the simple (‘What’s the difference between Champagne and Cava?’) to the curious (‘Why doesn’t the wine I brought back from holiday taste as good at home?’) with a chapter devoted to each.
Lockspeiser pours wine wisdom throughout, though in chapter 14, which asks ‘Are supermarket own-label wines any good?’ he reveals he is not immune to the rampant snobbery of the oenophile -even if it doesn’t come from him.
Although he is clear that wine is a buyers’ market, and that suits the supermarkets who buy huge volumes, which in turn means they can deliver value to customers, he also admits to wrapping a kitchen towel around the bottle whenever he pours Tesco Premier Cru Champagne (he is “a big fan”) to guests for fear of what they would say if they knew the truth. “Perhaps I should have the courage of my convictions,” he ponders. “But there is always the worry about what other people will think.”
At this point I’d have liked Lockspeiser to skewer this absurd pretension with the same firmness he advocates when served up a corked bottle in a restaurant. And add chapter 26: ‘Why do so many wine lovers have their heads plugged so far up their own backsides they’d need a corkscrew to pull them out?’