A dozen years ago my wife and I visited a couple who had renovated a hoary old estate in the Perigord, deep in the Mother Goosiest part of the French southwest. They subsequently fitted out the house and stables as an upscale B&B with fixtures and amenities charming enough to wring tears of joy from Martha Stewart. We were on assignment for the Boston Globe’s food pages.
The wife of the pair, an Aussie, had created a series of cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma. Her British husby had had an interesting career as a a journalist (guy could tell a story). They were old school gourmands and made a colorful couple, especially since they enjoyed a bit of public conjugal sniping — periodically referring to each other in the third personas Rude Robert and Wonderful Wendeley.
One night at supper, they regaled us with tales of guests delightful and horrid. In the latter category was a fellow Australian who, near the end of dinner, gathered several bottles of rather good red wine together and, as if to make a point that all this business about the sacred individuality of wine was bollocks, poured them all into a decanter together. Robert and Wendeley told the story as if they considered the act a kind of crime against humanity. Our hosts had never witnessed an act of barbarity to compare with it.
Years later I was in The People’s Pint in Greenfield, Mass. — a place where brewing is taken very seriously indeed) and watched as a barkeep cheerfully mixed one draft beer with another right at the taps. Several apparently drinker-approved beer blends were on the menu – though some seemed to be improvised on the spot. No one blinked an eye. I wondered why if cocktail bars and brew houses do it, why can’t wine drinkers?”