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Blend it like Johnson... or making the most of leftovers

As I said a few weeks back, in what turned out to be my most popular Tweet ever @joannasimon, England’s chief medical officer and I clearly move in different circles. Dame Sally Davies says she doesn’t know many men who drink more than half a glass of wine a day. I don’t know many who drink less than half a… Tell you what: you fill in whatever measurement seems appropriate to your own circumstances.

To continue from where I was before I threw the floor open, one of the first to reply on Twitter pointed out that in his experience no drinks come in half glasses. Another, on similar lines, asked who actually drinks wine only in half glasses? I can’t answer, and as far as I’m concerned my duty to readers and followers doesn’t require that I go in search of half glasses or drinks to put in them, but I do have a suggestion for dealing with leftover wine, should you have male friends like Dame Sally’s but not enough of them together to finish a bottle in a day (I reckon you need 11 such friends plus yourself).

Blend it. Yes, carefully pour the remains of one bottle into the remains of another, ideally one which you and, oh, I don’t know, let’s say about five friends opened a day or two before and which you resealed and kept cold (e.g. in the fridge). If it’s red wine, you’ll need to take it out of the fridge to bring it to a drinkable temperature, but remember that’s not going to be room temperature unless your room is well under 20ºC. If you’re going to be keeping half a bottle’s worth of wine, you could decant it into a half bottle, pouring it gently, but I don’t usually bother to do that anymore (while it’s being poured it’s being exposed to air).

"I’m thinking of passing this on to England's Chief Medical Officer in the hope of seeing it in her next set of guidelines"

I take a fairly no holds barred approach to my blends, although I draw the line at different colours so there’s no DIY rosé chez nous, and I do try to blend what I think will be complementary, although often contrasting, regions, styles and grape varieties. I might use a crisp, aromatic youngster to perk up something a bit dull or teetering on the edge of age; something lighter bodied – a cool-climate Syrah, say – to leaven a heavy, oaky and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon; and a vibrant but one-dimensional Sauvignon Blanc to go with a warm-climate white blend.

If all this fills you with horror, I got the idea many years ago from no less a hero than Hugh Johnson, who I was interviewing about serving, tasting and storing wine for Harrods Book of Fine Wine. “I see no conceivable reason for not making a blend of leftover bottles,” he said. I didn’t need to be told twice. I’m thinking of passing this on to England’s CMO in the hope of seeing it in her next set of guidelines.

This blogpost first appeared at

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