Luke Blackall: Fizz not quite gone from the journalist's lunch
Man About Town: This was the good stuff, and none of it was for the communal bucket
The lengthy journalist's lunch, I told a couple of readers at this week's i party in Manchester, is a thing of the past. Not that I could lament it – I wasn't around when it did exist.
Older hacks will reminisce through rosé-tinted glasses of the days when liquid lunches would last an age and be covered by generous expenses. Nowadays, I tell those who presume this situation still prevails, the meal is more likely to be a business-like sandwich "al desco" or a quick run to the canteen.
But I was forced to eat my words with my lunch the following day, when I received a very tempting invitation. The Champagne house Ruinart, I was told, was cracking open the "new" Dom Ruinart 2002 vintage. Would I like to attend this momentous occasion? This was perhaps the easiest question I had faced all year, and I duly hot-footed it to the ageless Brown's Hotel.
And I learned a lot – it's very easy to think that all fizz tastes alike, but there are great differences between years, grapes and vintages. Things got technical with talks of sugar content and "disgorging". We were told to look out for "minerality" and "peat" flavours. I discovered that on the tasting scale there were such terms as "bergamot" and "oyster shell" (previously I would have thought them shades of paint).
But perhaps most importantly for my line of work, I was told by Frédéric Panaïotis, the chef de caves of the company, that a bottle of standard Champagne should be split between four people and last only ten minutes. That's a no-nonsense approach to celebrating if ever I heard one.
There was also none of the slurping, tasting and spitting out I have seen at other tastings. This was the good stuff, and none of it was for the communal bucket.
I then discovered that at these Champagne launches, one has to pace oneself. And taking Monsieur Panaïotis' advice could be dangerous. As you arrive, two glasses during conversation with your fellow lunch guests at the reception might seem like nothing, but the danger comes afterwards. When you sit down you are presented with a four-course menu. Each dish is paired with a different Champagne. These are not served not in a flute, but a healthy-sized wine glass. It seems doubly rude and wasteful to leave an unfinished glass of Champagne, especially if these vintages (and, presumably, the lunches) are only going to come around every few years.
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 5 Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- < Previous
- Next >
£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...
Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...