THE publication of Andrew Barr's book about pinot noir, in the Viking series of Guides to Grape Varieties (remarked upon in this newspaper's diary) raises the uncomfortable question of political correctness in the wine world. Mr Barr remarks in his preface that he has omitted Austrian wines for reasons of morality. 'Unlike South Africa,' he writes, 'I believe that there is no evidence that Austria is making efforts to reject its racist past.'

Despite the retirement of Kurt Waldheim and his replacement as president of Austria by Thomas Klestil, Mr Barr insists that the wines of the region are still tainted by Nazism. He is also having second thoughts about Romanian wines, and has never been too sure about Bulgarian wines, although since the overthrow of the Zhivkov government, that country has officially ceased its persecution of the Turkish minority.

Perhaps Mr Barr should take it upon himself to compile and maintain a sale-or-hold index of wines, related to the changing political situations in their countries of origin, which could be displayed in branches of the more right-on wine merchants such as Majestic and Oddbins. For the time being, however, and as a rule of thumb, here is The Gastropod's guide to politically correct drinking:

Chilean wines have been acceptable since General Pinochet stood down, but only if they are of a recent vintage, which means that while chardonnay is probably OK, cabernet is not. Yugoslavia presents a massive problem and it is best to lay off the Laski riesling until the situation has stabilised. It is acceptable to have South African wines in your cellar, but not to drink them until the African National Congress says so.

THIS column's competition in conjunction with Les Routiers' Club Bon Viveur uncovered a perverse predilection among our readers for nasty food. In their excitement at our request for 'revolting recipes', many entrants forgot about gastropods - which were the theme of the competition.

Quentin Bates, a former dogsbody on an Icelandic trawler, submitted his recipe for svid, which begins: 'Take a sheep's head, impale it on an iron pole and burn off the hair with an oxy-acetylene torch . . .'

Several offal recipes were submitted, ranging from Mrs Paddy Stevenson's sublime Gateau de Pithiers (made with chopped pig's liver) to Sarah Myners' ridiculous Liver Cave (in which a piece of pig's liver is stuffed with rice pudding and deep-fried). No, Ms Myners of Co Durham, your recipe will not be tested, but we have developed a fondess at least for your alternative suggestion, of fried eggs with white chocolate sauce.

Jane Clegg, who is a clever clogs, reminded us of Marinetti's recipe from The Futurist Cookbook for a dish he called 'The Excited Pig', which consists of a whole skinned salami swimming in coffee and eau de cologne. That's not food, Ms Clegg, that's art.

Simon Turner, who is a talented artist, devised and illustrated a snail-juice Summer Cocktail containing dead flies, earwax and stinging nettles as well as the central ingredient, which we have had some difficulty in obtaining. Perhaps, Sir, you would be so good as to send a list of stockists of essence of slug and arthropod oil.

A couple of amateur photographers sent in snapshots. The enigmatic J Alphey found three splendid snails in a small park in Milton Keynes which slightly resemble Brian, the chirpy hero of The Magic Roundabout. To support his contention that cooking is deleterious to the flavour of snails, Roy Harrup of Westcliff-on-Sea enclosed a picture of a young boy dining on escargots au naturel, which has been passed to his local social services department.

Not all entries were so off-putting, however. The Gastropod is particularly indebted to Rita Keegan for her illuminating dissertation on the symbolic significance of snails in old French films. She, along with all the other lucky winners, will shortly be hearing from Les Routiers' Club Bon Viveur and can look forward to the year's discounts in restaurants across the country that membership confers. Others who wish to enrol in the club, which costs pounds 60, can ring the membership secretary, Janice Clay, on 071-385 6644.

KEN GOODY, the chef and proprietor of Cemlyn, a Harlech restaurant that scores three out of five in The Good Food Guide (plus an asterisk denoting it to be a particularly fine example within its classification), also wrote in response to the competition. But rather than sending in a recipe he railed against Les Routiers' criteria for inclusion in its annual guidebook: listed restaurants pay an annual fee, and a charge of pounds 30 is made for inspections, refunded if standards are not found to be high enough. The Gastropod awarded him free membership of Club Bon Viveur so that he can patronise Les Routiers restaurants on the cheap.

Mr Goody has been running Cemlyn for nearly a dozen years, since he retired from the rag trade, but he is eager to sell up and write his memoirs - which, at the suggestion of the Independent's former food writer, Jeremy Round, will be called From Rags to Ragout. Alas, he has been unable to find a buyer for the 42-seat restaurant. Any readers who fancy running what he describes as 'a pleasant country dump' and have pounds 160,000 to invest are directed to Cemlyn; so are readers who are hungry and have pounds 17 to spend (0766 780 425).

THE Ritz Hotel has at last officially announced that its new head chef is to be David Nicholls, as The Gastropod revealed a fortnight ago. Mr Nicholls, who for the past three years has been executive chef at the Royal Garden Hotel, is certainly well qualified for the job and was recommended for it by such luminaries of the catering world as Anton Mosimann, Richard Shepherd (of Langan's) and Peter Kromberg (of the Intercontinental). The press release from Terry Holmes of The Ritz, which is owned by Trafalgar House, says, 'They have all asked me to make it clear that no finder's fee will be accepted, although they may wish at some point to sample the delights of the QE2, Trafalgar's other flagship.' Given the current state of the QE2, with a gaping hole in its side, they might be wiser to take the money.

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