Booze connoisseur and RadioLIVE producer/host Mitch Harris has put together this comprehensive guide to drinking this silly season. Enjoy, and drink responsibly.
OPINION: My general approach to buying truth serum is to purchase booze that is a close, low-cost alternative to high-quality expensive stuff. I am also a creature of habit and tend to stick to preferred tipples. Recently I have revisited a couple of alcoholic genres I thought I had left behind.
I love champagne. Those tiny bubbles bust open the doors of conversation. But I am not on a Champagne salary. A lot of Methode Champagnois are sickly substances that only break open the doors to a headache. But you can get good sparkling wines. My favourite is produced near the Champagne region. It is called Monmousseau and is available in quite a few stores now. At $20 you can be a Champagne Charlie on a Terry Tradie salary. Honourable mention has to go to Cloudy Bay who have consistently produced outstanding Methodes for years alongside their other fabulous wines.
The French have traditionally exported their rubbish and drunk the good stuff themselves. This suits me down to the ground because I have always been a rubbish French wine fan. And because the Eurozone has been in a downturn for so long, never before has so much rubbish French wine been so cheap and available in New Zealand. Of course we know how wonderful and developed and sophisticated NZ wine is now. But the trouble for me is that wines in this country often overwhelm with their bouquets. You can hardly discern anything in a rubbish French wine, which I find much kinder to my stomach.
I also tend to drink a lot of rosé which, admittedly, isn't the most manly of beverages. My simple rule to buying rosé is the paler, the better.
My biggest switch in recent years is that instead of just drinking wine all the time I have gone back to spirits. The main driver behind not drinking spirits was my insistence of never mixing the grain with the grape. I now realise that you can start out with an aperitif then switch to a glass of wine and not be too damaged by the experience.
Two old favourites have come back to befriend me. You can't beat a gin and tonic on a hot day with plenty of ice and a lime wedge. My favourite expensive gin is Williams of Great Britain. Leave the lime out of that one because the gin flavour is so good. I have also returned to one of the great tragedies of my youth - the rum and Coke. Go for a light or even white rum to avoid that heavy rum smell. Havana Club is my current preference and I have noticed that everyone who says they have sworn off rum for life is now queuing up for my rum 'n Cokes.
I can't drink too much beer these days because it bloats me. I love a real ale if I'm in the UK but at home these days I still prefer the Japanese drys.
But now I have discovered a new mistress. A few months ago I made an apple sauce to go with the pork chops I was cooking. The recipe called for some green apple cider. I polished off the rest of the plastic bottle and discovered a great summer alternative to beer without the same level of bloating. I am not sure what sort of subconscious prejudice kept me away from cider for so long. It was probably something to do with Cornish accents, but now I am a believer.
The Zone of Conviviality
This is what separates a person who enjoys a drink from the absolute pisshead. The zone of conviviality is the time between halfway through your first drink and the end of the third. In the zone the conversation is sparkling, laughter flows and alcohol makes you feel good. The only way to extend the zone of conviviality is to sip slowly.
Have a Merry Christmas filled with long zones of conviviality.