That's enough tiffing, let's get back to the tippling

THE AGREEABLE WORLD OF WALLACE ARNOLD

Share
Related Topics
AS YOU might imagine, I am as distressed as the next fellow at any news of conflict in the world of vintage wine. "Least said, soonest mended" has long been my motto, so I trust that none of my fellow scriveners will choose to make mischief today by repeating the story of the fearsome row between Mr Michael Broadbent of Christie's and Miss (Msss!) Serena Sutcliffe of Sotheby's.

Let it blow over, say I! But for those of you who missed this greatly upsetting episode, let me fill you in. During the course of making a programme on the dread gogglebox, my old friend and quaffing partner Michael Broadbent, director of wine at Christie's, let slip his personal dislike for his counterpart at Sotheby's, Miss Serena Sutcliffe. But as a Master of Wine myself, I am as anxious as anyone to heal this rift between two dear old friends. So I shall say no more about it. No good can come of repeating uncalled-for remarks. Suffice it to say that Michael referred to Serena as not only "haughty and nose-in-the-air" but also "pretentious". But do let's please put the matter to rest. The world of wine has long been a most civilised oasis of delicious friendships, and I for one have no intention of repeating such grotesque "tittle-tattle" before a wider audience.

Of course, it has happened before, and I daresay it will happen again. I well remember an historic wine-tasting held in the Garrick Club in the spring of '83. It goes without saying that I was there. I wrote a widely- respected column for Decanter magazine at the time, as well as earning a not inconsiderable sum for acting as wine, lager and flavoured cola consultant to the Happy Shopper chain of stores. I also oversaw an international franchise on wine-related products bearing the Arnold insignia - The Famous Arnold Miracle Corkscrew ("Just twist and pull hard"), The Arnold Pocket Wine Handbook, with each wine awarded its own expert symbol, telling the reader whether, in my opinion, it was red or white, and most prestigious of all, The Arnold World Atlas of Wine, with a cross over France, so that readers could learn where most of the best wine continues to be made.

Also present at the tasting were my fellow wine-buffs Sir Roy Strong, Kingsley Amis, Michael Broadbent, Serena Sutcliffe and my old friend and quaffing partner Chris Kelly, the stalwart presenter of the BBC's Food and Drink Programme. All went well - we were tasting, if I remember rightly, an excellent Grands Echezeaux at the time, to which I was adding a good measure of ginger ale, to give it a bit of life - until, 20 minutes or so into the session, Serena let out a high-pitched yell of indignation. It stopped us all in our tracks: indeed, I watched in horror as Roy coughed and spluttered, Burgundy pouring out of his nose down through his moustache, across his chin and on to his kipper tie, the whole lot having "gone down the wrong way".

"Stop cribbing from my notes, you damned cheat!" Serena was yelling at Michael.

"I never!" replied Michael, his voice shivering with indignation.

"You're worse than that Chris Kelly, you are!" continued Serena, at which point Chris lumbered over from the other side of the room and told her to step outside and say that. "How bloody dare you!" It was Roy, who, having wiped his moustache with his kipper tie was now swinging it, lasso- style, around his head - a trick he had learnt when appearing in his Wild West Show at the V&A some 20 years previously.

"What the...? yelped Kingsley Amis, as Roy's kipper lasso missed its true target and instead hooked itself around Kingsley's left ankle, sending him toppling over on to Serena Sutcliffe, whose half-filled glass of Echezeaux then flew through the air, hitting Michael Broadbent fairly and squarely on the nose.

By this time, the rest of the Garrick Club had become inveigled in our little vinous contretemps. On the upper landing, Lord Rees-Mogg had Mr Oz Clarke in a half-nelson, and down in the members' dining room Lord Goodman was hitting Miss Jancis Robinson over the head with a decanter. Meanwhile, that consummate imbiber Lord Weiden- feld was screaming "Pull her wings off!" as Dame Margot Fonteyn as the dying swan pirouetted out of the club with a bottle of cheap Beaujolais Nouveau under each arm.

An upsetting memory, and one that I do not air lightly. But if this article can help those of us in the wine-tasting community to put our problems behind us, and to work together towards a more peaceful future, then my efforts will not have been in vain.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
The first lesson of today is... don't treat women unequally?  

Yvette Cooper is right: The classroom is the best place to start teaching men about feminism

Chris Maume
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial