Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cat wines and dog wines

We have a goldfish and a hamster, but on the whole – and don’t tell the bairns – I don’t like pets. I do like the idea of having something with a personality that shows you a bit of affection, but I figure that for something that shits a lot, needs cleaning out, feeding, playing with and tending when it’s ill, I have kids, so why do I need anything else?

I’m not however averse to other people’s pets – providing they don’t bite, scratch, dribble, moult on me, lick my face or hump my leg. In fact, I quite like a session of canine/feline touchy-feely, safe in the knowledge that in a couple of hours, I can leave my host to the pleasures of dry dog food or the litter tray. And based on my experience of OPP – other people’s pets – I’ve started dividing wines into cat wines and dog wines.

Here’s the idea. When you visit a dog owner’s house, Bonzo is the first to greet you, jumping, slavering, whooping, generally craving, nay, demanding immediate attention. After a period of anything between half a minute and half an hour, the beastie often calms down and comes and drapes itself like a mini-blanket over your feet, nibbling his favourite slipper and making the odd affectionate growl. Sometimes it doesn’t, and keeps on with the yap-yap until a) you leave, or b) your friend chucks it into the garden (where of course the yapping continues).

Matters are somewhat different chez Tiddles. Ring on the door and the moggy often scarpers, appearing only later once you’ve settled into your chair. However, if that chair is HER chair, then a certain type of Tiddles will now proceed to look at you with such contempt that you end up feeling like you’ve clubbed a baby seal. But her more benevolent cousin will come and slink around your ankles, then jump on your lap, whereupon you find yourself engaged in a pleasant half-hour of purring and neck-scratching.

Dog wines are those that begin by leaping out of the glass and assaulting you. The bad ones just keep yapping until you chuck them down the sink – the equivalent of confining Bonzo to the rhododendrons. But the good ones calm down, and begin to show their more restrained side. 20 year old Aussie Shirazes and Californian Cabernets can be fabulously complex, but sadly few people bother to age them beyond their bouncy-puppy youth. Meanwhile cat wines are those that give away precious little at the first encounter. The good ones - decent young Bordeaux, for example - then slink out of their slumber to reveal the hidden depths; the bad ones just remain sour pusses.

Cooler places veer towards the feline, while warmer spots are usually more canine. But in both cases, the key is to look beyond your first impressions, and let Bonzo and Tiddles show you what they’re really made of.

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