Today I had a brain wave. I was walking around the spirits section of Asda and spotted a bottle of what looked convincingly like Merlot but had a giant label saying “Alcohol Removed Merlot” splashed across the front.
I thought, “Aha! My first step into being a recovering alcoholic! I’ll buy a bottle of this wonderful “Alcohol Removed” wine instead of a real bottle and convince my brain that I don’t need to drink mid-week!”. If I had been Baby Jesus on Christmas Day, the Three Wise Men couldn’t have gone far wrong in bringing me this wonderful and rare treasure.
I’ve tried the infamous ‘Schloer’ in the past and felt worse for my purse, which was three whole pounds worse off for the entirely wasted experience. All I could think was that it tasted entirely like apple squash and if I’d put another pound towards the bottle I could have increased its alcoholic percentage by a whole eleven percent. I wasn’t about to be fooled by bottles merely pretending to be in my best interests by telling me they were “alcohol free”. They didn’t know me so who were they to assume that I shouldn’t be needing something refreshingly less docile in percentage.
This bottle however, was so much more than a pretender. It looked the part. It smelled the part. It was like looking at James Franco in the ‘James Dean’ movie and trying to tell the lookalike actor from the original. Almost impossible. I was sold. And more than willing to give it a try at only £2.98. If it smelled like wine, looked like wine and, even better, tasted mostly (I could handle mostly) like wine, then we would be onto a winner.
On the drive home I was too excited to even put the music on (despite the fact that I love showing off to Dave that I now know all the words to ‘Despacito’ – it took me four whole days to learn, I’m making the most of singing it a lot). I just wanted to get home, make the house cosy and grab my snazziest wine glass and pour me a glass of unbridled happiness. I don’t even usually drink red wine but the white wine that was also “alcohol removed” just looked like a bottle of Shloer which had gone undercover and was wearing a pair of those big black rimmed glasses with the plastic moustache attached to the bottom of them. I wasn’t fooled and my liver wouldn’t be either.
Tenderly cradling the glass whilst watching some of ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ I took a sip.
My tongue wanted to run out of my mouth and into a bottle of bleach. My lips formed an ‘S’ shape and my heart jumped straight to its death into the Pit of Broken Dreams and Built Up Hopes.
Not only did it not taste even remotely like any wine at all, let alone Merlot, it tasted of nothing. Probably the same taste you would get if you filled your kitchen sink with warm water and then left it for a couple of hours, letting it cool slightly and fill with dust particles. I took a few further sips to try and adjust and force my body to just think it was ordinary wine but it wouldn’t have it and I reluctantly necked the rest of the glass and rinsed it in the kitchen sink, washing what was left of my “unbridled happiness” down into the drains of Peterlee where, evidently, it belonged and was all I deserved for leaving my comfort zone and attempting to save my lost liver.
The bottle is now, as you see it, in the photo, two-thirds full. I may keep it in the cupboard to give to guests I don’t have a particular fondness for. When I give them their glass, I’ll tell them it’s a 1998 bottle of thirteen and a half percent merlot. Aged well. “An excellent year”, I’ll tell them. Then I will watch and smile as they drink my bottle of dishwater sadness.