It has been a thoroughly miserable week for me. Ever since I returned from holiday a couple of weeks ago, I've prayed that whatever illness had been ailing my youngest son Daniel wasn't going to get me too. But by Tuesday afternoon, I knew I'd succumbed. Flu. Not "man flu", but the real thing. Burning-up, delerious, aching joints, sensitive skin, headache, nausea, you name it, I've had it. I wish I could say it is all now a hazy memory, but I can't - almost every hour of the past 5 days has been a waking (or at best semi-conscious) hour. Brief moments of meaningless, dream-filled sleep grabbed wherever and whenever possible, interspersed by hour after hour of tossing and turning, coughing and spluttering. Hot lemon, paracetamol and ibuprofen have all featured heavily on the menu, whilst any food I've managed to force down has been out of necessity, rather than enjoyment. I hesitate to say it, but I think I might just be over the worst of it now, although the constant bouts of coughing and sneezing are beginning to drive me to distraction - another sleepless night beckons, I fear.
Needless to say, wine has hardly been high on my list of priorities during this time, although I did manage a glass or two on Thursday evening - but mainly for some perceived "medicinal" purpose, and because TLD had opened a couple of bottles during the week. I can't say that the wine helped make me feel any better (indeed, it probably put paid completely to any chance I had of achieving quality sleep) but it made me feel a bit more normal for a while. It wasn't the good stuff, of course - but it was pretty decent for what it was................
Every other Wednesday, just as I'm off to the Wine Circle, TLD always asks me the same question - "Have you got a bottle of wine I can open?" That is because every other Wednesday, her parents visit for dinner. And it always pains me to think that - because I only tend to keep "good" wine in the house - one of those good bottles is being opened, when an "everyday" one would do. I know it may sound awfully snobby, but to some people, wine is simply another beverage, and my In-Laws neither appreciate (nor care) whether a wine they are drinking cost £50 or £3.
So whilst were were in France recently, I scoured the shelves of a couple of branches of Intermarche (one in Pézenas and one somewhere near Rouen) for some "bargain basement" wines, to be used for just such occasions. That's not to say I was interested in any old crap - I see little point in shelling out 2 or 3 Euros per bottle on wine that I know will give no pleasure at all. At least, that was the theory. Let's just say that I expect less from the wines at the 2 Euro level than I do of the 3-4 Euro level. We bought a couple of dozen bottles - mostly reds, but with a few whites and a couple of rosés thrown-in for good measure. And for purely research purposes, I intend to at least grab a half-glass of a some of those wines and report back over the coming months. Who knows, if any of you are planning a holiday in France this year, it may give you a few pointers for "emergency" wines, for when you can't get to visit a grower or two. So here are a couple to be going on with;