Being of an age when the memory is not quite what it was, that mystical ‘first bottle’ is pure conjecture. I assume the setting was sometime in the ’70’s – the decade I thought we had power cuts to give the coal men time off at Christmas. The time, so I am told, of prawn cocktails and Black Forest Gateau and the heights of vinos sophistication being bottles of Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch and, holy of holies, Mateaus Rosé.
And there was me, several years later, drinking the damn stuff overlooking Macau harbour and thinking how cool I was! It wasn’t cool. It was naff, even then. It was also damn expensive for a destitute traveller. But actually the evening was made by that bottle of wine – the colour of the sunset mirroring the rose-tinted liquid in the glass, the light shimmering across the South China Sea as a sea breeze threw off the tropical heat of the day.
Another memory surfaces, again from some time in the 70’s, of my late Grand Mother sticking sea shells to an empty bulbous-shaped wine bottle with a candle stuck in the top. That distinctive shape can only have been a Mateus. Luckily I can recall little else, 1970’s or Mateus related, but that is probably the fault of personal excesses during the following decade!
No attractive photo to accompany these misty-eyed recollections, sadly, nor a tasting note. The famed Portuguese rosé no longer graces the shelves of the purveyors of alcohol in my small town. I expect, back in its day, whole rafts of the stuff were glugged by the local Wallingfordtonians or whatever they are called. All long since moved on to Australian Chardonnay I imagine. You can always pick up a nice shell-covered, dumpy candle stick at the weekly car-boot sale though.