An e-mail from David Williams, editor of Wine & Spirit, that thwopped into my In-Box earlier this year began thus. "We're dong [sic] a 'big issue' in May, a kind of sister issue to our small producers number, focusing on the world's biggest producers."
Since getting married a couple of years ago, David has gained both a beard and a bit of a paunch, but he's still the spitting image of my old schoolmate Morf, who acquired his nickname when Tony Hart's creation of the same name appeared on our screens - a coincidence really as the moniker had nothing to do with Plasticine and everything to do with...well we won't go there.
(Two things about Plasticine. First, I'm reminded of it every time I walk past a field of cows as the smell is close to identical - is there something the manufacturers weren't telling schoolchildren? Second, the Wikipedia entry begins with the wonderful warning 'Not to be confused with the Pleistocene epoch which is part of the geologic timescale.')
Anyway, back to the e-mail "We thought it would be fun as part of this to do a kind of 'supersize me' type feature where a wine writer who is normally spoilt for choice in what they drink, has to drink only wines from the top 10 UK off-trade brands for a limited period. (ideally a week or more). As Kevin Keegan would put it, I'd love it, just love it, if you fancied doing it..."
And so for the next few days, and maybe weeks, my drinking at home (as opposed to tasting) will coincide with that of most of the rest of the country. I looked to sign off this past weekend in suitable fashion with a bottle of 1988 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle. Sadly it was corked - an omen of the pleasures to follow...?