Wine club - Roger Scruton

A time for rediscovering ordinary pleasures and surprising wines

New Year is a time of renewal - which means rediscovering ordinary things, ordinary virtues and ordinary ways of surviving from day to day. Germans call it Alltaglichkeit - everydayness - the state to which you awaken on the first day of January, remembering the already broken resolutions to drink less, swear less and hate your neighbour less than yourself.

The first requirement of this new condition of penitent ordinariness is to lay your hands on a good everyday red wine, and this Corney & Barrow has provided, in the form of Henri Bourgeois's "Petit Bourgeois". The name describes your new condition, no longer standing out in defiance, no longer expecting more from life than life can offer, and generally greeting the world with a slightly forced but self-deprecating smile. It is a regional wine made from the Cabernet Franc grape, forward, easygoing, and wonderfully suited to everyday food. After three months of American wines that come down over your palate like velvet curtains spiced with mothballs, we drank this fruity and spacious wine as though gulping in air. It was the perfect complement to our butcher's pork pie, and lasted well into the cheese, neither challenged nor challenging and still as lively at the end of the meal as it had been at the beginning.

The Cabernet Sauvignon from Anjou is rather more refined, with a delicate perfume and a blouse of herbaceous fruit over tight tits of tannin. I have a soft spot for the reds of the Loire, and the Cabernet Sauvignon of Anjou is among the best of them. Well-made by the estimable Frederic Mabileau, this wine will be as drinkable in a year or two as it is now, and it confirmed and endorsed our New Year's resolution: to drink as much French wine as we possibly can before returning to Virginia.

Everyday reds are much easier to find than everyday whites. To harmonise with the contours of an ordinary life, a white wine must serve as an aperitif; it must stand up to scrambled eggs and smoked salmon; and it must look quiet, greenish-gold and refreshing when presented to the weary homecomer. It should also have character, though not so much as to draw attention to itself. The Tour de Monestier from Bergerac is a good shot at such a wine - plenty of Semillon blended with the quince-like Muscadelle to produce a somewhat flowery but dry and appetising pick-me-up, which would also serve as an effective put-you-down for the wine snob, being cheap, striking and almost impossible to place. As for the South African Sauvignon, this is definitely not an everyday experience: taut, earthy, with a pronounced flavour of horse-hoof, it cuts through the strings of nonsense that hang in most mouths, and knifes its way down to the stomach. Perfect with shark.

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 16 January 2006 issue of the New Statesman, We were wrong about Sharon