Fri Mar 23, 2018 London

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Food, drink and fine diningThe comings and goings of the culinary classes

Valuing Chardonnay

Fred Sculthorp tests Tesco’s Everyday Value Chardonnay


Growing older, one is almost always inclined to question what legacy one will leave. This is a particular dilemma for someone who has journeyed through life being fortunate enough to have tasted some of the finest wines on offer. As one who critiques rather than makes, what flaming torch am I to pass on to those who follow me? This thought burdens me daily as I browse the wine shelves of my local supermarket.


Last week I found myself curiously eyeing up the undisturbed display of Tesco’s Everyday Value Chardonnay. I have always seen Chardonnays as the mermaids of wine. They are beautiful and tempting from the outside, but beyond that lays a love that is ultimately destructive. It is no secret that cheaper Chardonnays are frowned upon. I purchase a carton at £3.67 with the determination to liberate such a misunderstood wine from the undeserved prejudices of our society.


Tesco Metro St Andrews
Tesco Metro St Andrews

Eager to start my campaign, I crack open the carton in the street and glug back with a new found purpose. At first I fall in love with the dewy hints of raspberry and summer fruits. I am being played a soft melody from the harp of a faithful nymph faced lover. As I carry on drinking I lie down and submit myself to those long lost memories of summers gone by that the sharp finish of the wine brings on. Each swig washes through my mouth like the waves of a deep and all-powerful ocean. For the briefest of moments, I feel like this is it.


As I make my way home I become aware of the wines increasing propensity to stain and sour my treasured taste buds. The harp’s melody is becoming more erratic as I am being dragged down into a darker unknown side of the Chardonnay. Those passing by become alarmed at my whimpers of regret. I have had too much of the forbidden fruit.


The carton is finished and I find myself running through the street, trying to escape the nightmarish visions that this poison has brought on. I collapse and shut my eyes, praying the litre carton of wine takes mercy and forces me to pass out so I can escape in dreams of velvety Cabernet Sauvignons and weekend getaways to the vineyards of Chambolle-Musigny. But it won’t do and now I can almost feel her standing there with me. Katie Price, the patron saint of Chardonnays, looks down upon me and mocks my naivety.


I wake up the next morning outside the same Tesco I started my ill-fated campaign. Sickening hints of the Tesco own brand still haunt my palate. I look up at the grey and unforgiving sky and try and imagine a world before, cursing the tender innocence that led me to drift so carelessly towards the own brands. Yet amid the confusion of torn carton and bloodied hands I at last realise I have something to pass on to my followers, a legacy of some sort: Tesco’s Chardonnays cannot be saved.


I’m back in my old stomping ground of St Andrews now. Having had to make do with the dreadful offerings at my university hall’s wine and cheese events I was relieved last week when I saw the waiter smuggle a delightful bottle of complimentary Rosso Italiano into my local Indian takeaway. My late wine tutor was an old rogue when it came to women and had a notoriously awful taste for Chilean Merlots. Nonetheless, as I knock back the free wine, his wise words return in a whisper on the end of a particularly delicate fruity note of this delightful red – always treat your Rosso Italiano’s as you would treat a lover. In keeping with this I’ve kept half of the bottle under my desk, ready for the next time the cold wind rolls in on the North Sea and I long for the hot embrace of Italy’s tender summer.


Tesco Everyday Value Chardonnay: £3.67 per bottle.


Tickets for ‘A Life in Wine: An Evening with Fred Sculthorp’ are on sale in room E09 McIntosh Hall at the University of St Andrews.



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