Hugh Johnson: ‘A Hermès tie calls for a plain shirt’

Purple cover of a restaurant wine list

I make a distinction, naturally, between restaurant and merchants’ lists. There are restaurants that should warn you when you book that you’ll need an hour or two to pick from the 200 Burgundies and 400 Bordeaux, not to mention the head sommelier’s deep dive into Alsace, the Jura and the parts of Italy, Spain and South America where he apparently spends his holidays. These are website lists, to be tackled over the weekend before you go. I’m afraid if I’m desperate to drink the 2012 Corton-Charlemagne from Coche-Dury, I’ll go online to Wine-Searcher and save myself a three-figure mark up. Maybe even four-figure.

But does great food, a chef’s pride and joy, enhance great wine – or vice versa? One of the two will inevitably lose out. A Herme?s tie calls for a plain shirt. Have you seen the delectable movie released in February this year, The Taste of Things? The title doesn’t survive translation, and the original French one (Le Pot-au-Feu) is scarcely better.

We don’t discover what exactly the wine is that Juliette Binoche’s character and her employer/lover Dodin choose for the transcendent pot au feu (the classic French dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in a casserole) that is her life’s work; a pale red – maybe Burgundy – but served in such dreadful little glasses that it would hardly matter. I suspect the camera operator said ‘I can’t see the colour, put some water in it’. That’s what happened to me on location time and again.

A pot au feu? The exhaustive list of matching suggestions in my Pocket Wine Book (2024 editi0n, £14.99 Octopus) proposes a rustic red. I’m not so sure now, though. After all the trouble (a whole film’s worth) Juliette has taken, we need a clear choice. How do you choose? Is it the textbook choice, the sommelier’s selection, or the haphazard what’s-next in your wine-rack?

After half a century of decisions (I was once Secretary of The International Wine & Food Society) I have faith in Serendipity. She’s not only a pretty name; she widens your horizons. Can that be a bad thing?

Related articles

Hugh Johnson: ‘There is real excitement to be found among neglected grape varieties’

Hugh Johnson: ‘At what level you start getting your claret kick is a personal thing’

Hugh Johnson: ‘Château-owners’ secret, they always said, was in their special soil’

The post Hugh Johnson: ‘A Hermès tie calls for a plain shirt’ appeared first on Decanter.

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/hugh-johnson-a-hermes-tie-calls-for-a-plain-shirt-527051/