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I took my wife out to dinner at Racine, a short walk from the V&A, for what is known in the matrimonial trade as a VIB.
Racine is one of her favourite restaurants, and mine too, for that matter. It’s a Paris bistro more properly Parisian than many you would find in Paris itself – though there wasn’t a scowl on the faces of any of the front-of-house staff.
A VIB meal requires at least one VIB wine, and ours was Lirac Domaine Maby La Fermade 2011. If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape but don’t have the dosh to buy the best of them, this wine is your new best friend. It encapsulates all the wonders of southern Rhône reds: herbs, spice, breadth on the palate, muscular tannins. And you can buy it retail from Yapp Brothers. They have moved on to the 2012 vintage, which I have not tasted. But I have never tasted a vintage of this wine that was less than excellent. £12.95 a bottle. Pounce.
As this was a VIB, the celebration took place over several days. And it featured several cruel moments at which there was no alternative to drinking a glass of Champagne.
We had different wines on several occasions, and few were as impressive as Tesco Finest Premier Cru Brut. This is a very serious wine, toasty and with a honeyed roundness, but at a price that some might regard as a bit of a joke: £19.99. If you drink Champagne with any regularity, consider buying a case. Stored in good conditions, it will go on improving.
There was also some chocolate in evidence, the largesse of friends. (I heartily recommend the products of Paul A Young and Artisan du Chocolat.) Port is one of the perfect drinks for chocolate, and the one I always want by my side is Quinta de Vargellas. 2001 is the current vintage, and it’s available from Majestic, Waitrose, and Tesco among others. From around £27. Worth every penny and more. Especially for a VIB, which stands, as you might have guessed, for Very Important Birthday.