Wine club - Roger Scruton indulges in the house white

The consolations of philosophy, discovered in an aromatic house white

So highly do I esteem Corney & Barrow's house wines that they were served at my recent book launch, an event which took place at the Swedenborg Society, with the works of the great spirit-seer on offer and display. Nova Hierosolyma and Arcana C lestia sold at such a rate that I was unable to ascertain whether the one vanished copy of Gentle Regrets had been paid for or stolen. You may say that it was the cheapness of the wine, together with my contempt for the assorted literary editors, reviewers and hangers-on, that dictated my choice of Corney & Barrow's plonk. No: quite the contrary. It was my liking for the plonk that led to my generosity towards the guests, whom I treated to a neatly turned speech on the mysteries of heaven and hell, as revealed to Swedenborg, Blake, Strindberg and a few others of that sort.

I went on to summarise the philosophy of revelation, the need for religious renewal, the immanent reality of the divine, and also the more complex chapters of Gentle Regrets, which deal somewhat humorously with the same difficult issues. The house white, which sustained me during the first part of the speech, is a remarkably clean, balanced and aromatic blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Listan from the Cotes de Gascogne. Light in alcohol, but with a forward acidity and zippy flavour, this kept me wonderfully cheerful as I surveyed the departing guests. Moving on to the red, a Carignan-dominated blend from the Aude, expertly made by the Lurton brothers, and of exemplary smoothness, I broached the topic of the afterlife, of which Swedenborg possessed first-hand proof in the form of angelic communications, and which (I assured the few remaining hangers-on) was given the best possible run for its money in the chapter of GR dealing with Ibn Rushd and the nature of rational theology.

I am not sure how the evening ended, though next day I found myself recovering with Corney & Barrow's excellent sparkling wine, which I much prefer to cheap champagne, on account of its sprightly acidity and taste of sea salt and lemon. You can drink a lot of this without inviting a headache, and it is a great pity we had only one bottle - not enough to revive that proof of the afterlife, though enough to revive some gentle regrets.

The Company Reserve is a Merlot-dominated blend from various petits chateaux on the Cotes de Blaye, Castillon and Franc. Those of our readers who remain true to their socialist scruples might disapprove of the label: after all, even Enron could have had a Company Reserve, and why should the institutions of capitalism be used as marks of quality? Still, the wine went well with sausages, and offered a vivid proof, somewhat later, of the afterlife of Singer the Pig.

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and countryside campaigner as well as an author and broadcaster. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading right wing thinkers, his publications include the Meaning of Conservatism. He has also written on fox hunting.

This article first appeared in the 05 September 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Ground zilch: how Al-Qaeda defeated New York