So, there I am. Girlfriend’s birthday, plush restaurant in West London, a wine list and an expectant waiter. A little pressure to “do the right thing”, but not that much (we’ve been together for 5 years).
So, I go exploring. I order the lamb and a glass (just one) of Blaufrankisch (trans. Blue Frankish) which promises a “deeply dark and intense experience” in the glass. It delivers this in spades and gets me thinking about colour and drinks.
A blue-hued Austrian grape, producing a “deeply dark” red wine. I’m attracted to the associations of colour as much as the description of taste. I glanced at the rosés on the list, and thought of the paler varieties appealing to my friends now, with the darker rosés often being rejected as too sweet, less delicate, perhaps less sophisticated or premium.
There’s orange wine, essentially white wine made with the skin on. I thought it was so very fashionable and going to be the next thing for Summer 2020, until I read that the chattering winos of West London thought of it as such almost three years ago! I’m so off this pace. And what about Black wine (very dark red and nothing to do with Black Tower) – is that going to be a hit? Maybe The Sun newspaper describing as a “vampy way to satisfy your inner Goth” as long ago as March 2018 was the kiss of death for that particular fad.
The thing about colour in drinks, as has been said many times before, is that we often drink with our eyes before our palates. Part of what makes a drink appealing, beyond the appearance, is what that colour signifies to the people we are with. Some of it is palate driven (the dark red wine and my lamb) but a lot of it is also about projected status. In looking at orange wine for this piece, I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t reflect much positive status anymore, beyond me being late to the latest wine party.
Many of us claim that we “just drink what we like, what we know”. True, some of the time. But innovation demands adventure, and the passed-on permission of those we look up to, to succeed. So, I for one will be keeping my social-colour chart with me the next time I’m wandering the aisles, wondering what to drink, decoding the latest colours on the shelves.