Welcoming winter & the crap spirits amnesty

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Preparation for winter in my household is pretty much non-existent, although we usually try to live without the central heating until the end of October to save a bit of money.  The unusually mild weather this year meant we were able to string it out for a couple of weeks longer than usual, but come mid-November that horrible onesie that my friend bought me as a joke started to look really snuggly and appealing (still, NO.) and I decided the time had come (to put the central heating on, not to commit the worst fashion crime of the decade).

So there I was, cat on lap, laptop on, cat on laptop… glass in hand, of course…  I usually drink white wine when I’m working on articles, it doesn’t give me that ‘must close eyes for a moment, and then maybe nod off while watching the telly’ feeling like red does.  But since we switched the central heating on, I’ve only opened reds, and I’m really enjoying them.

We could apply all sorts of science to our seasonal drinking habits, but realistically it is no more complicated than observing that rich reds like Grenache and spicy Merlot naturally complimenting the hearty, robust red meat based casseroles of winter just as much as aromatic Rieslings and Sauvignons love the salads and fresh fish that seem so appealing when the weather is warm.

Nonetheless, I have dissected my seasonal drinking habits using this rather splendid diagram, in order to explain one further category of beverage that deserves more attention:

Now, here you can see the shift from white to red as the weather gets colder.  Lovely cups of tea are pretty much constant whatever the season.  But it’s this other category that interests me – the category of ‘crap spirits.’

Everyone reading this will have some crap spirits in their home.  No one knows how they got there.  They lurk in cupboards and on dusty shelves.  They are brightly coloured and have ‘crème de’ in their name and often have a higher purpose in mind as a cocktail ingredient, but you would never be able to make a cocktail from the rancid selection lurking in your cupboard.  But when the time comes, you’ll drink them.  The key role of crap spirits in winter can be highlighted by this additional diagram:

















As you can see, as the temperature drops and conditions deteriorate, consumption of the crap spirits really takes off.  It’s during this dangerous period that you’ll start making remarks like “you know what, you wouldn’t think this crème de framboise would taste good in coffee, but this really hits the spot…” and “You know what I think would really go with this scrambled egg?  Calvados.”

It’s a slippery slope and we’ve all been down it.  One minute you’re polishing off the crème de menthe with a bacon butty, the next you’re wearing your onesie in public.

So this year I’m proposing a crap spirits amnesty.  Last weekend I tipped the dregs of two really dreadful looking bottles down the sink, and I’I’m going to disperse the others around friends’ houses in the run up to Christmas, which I suspect is where they came from in the first place.  I’m buying a case of emergency red wine and storing individual bottles in different places around the house.  And if we get snowed in again, I think some sort of hibernation will be in order so I can recharge my batteries for the white wine season.