January is a month for feeling jaded. Post Christmas, post Kings, all spent out but with bills still to pay, bad weather coming and the repercussions of gluttony looking out of every mirror, the year’s first month is the least cheerful. Which is a pity – to start the New Year with negatives and resolutions to stop drinking, eating, spending, partying – everything but worrying!
My friend kept her Gran’s saying for January; an answer to the anti-drinking “temperance” movement, it was “the true temperance is moderation”.
This is part of the philosophy of Bodegas Bentomiz. The bodega’s recently updated website even carries the EU’s “wine in moderation” logo. It may seem strange for a winery to discourage excess - but limiting yourself to one bottle of really good wine (instead of three bad wines) is more self-indulgent than you might think. A good wine gives you a pleasure with every mouthful; the limited alcohol can heighten the senses, and your sense of enjoyment, without
drowning them. A bottle that is a treat you will take the time to relish – you might even make the effort to serve it alongside a dish that pairs well with it. As soon as you start thinking about the food – instead of waiting ‘til you are hungry then opening the freezer for ideas – the quality of the food tends to go up. So you get a double whammy – good wine with better food, each one making the chore of sustenance into a rich sensual pleasure.
If relishing the indulgence of the senses is bohemian, then perhaps a moderation that allows you to do so is bohemian after all.
The Spanish say good wine ruins the purse, bad wine ruins the stomach. But you don’t need to spend excessively to enjoy excellent wines. Prices in Spain on beverages are massively lower than UK equivalents anyway – which puts the binge-drinking debate into perspective. The papers condemn supermarket 2-or1 offer, the politicians debate imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and the young drink themselves sick in public – while here, where wine is made, consumed and costs very much less – they don’t.
consumed and costs very much less – they don’t.
Yes, that is a generalisation – of course some people get drunk. But gross excess and all the negative baggage it brings is limited, without recourse to price fixing, because the culture encourages moderation and respects good wine. If you know the wine is special you want to be sober enough to taste it!
And Málaga is rich with vineyards that make wines worth taking the trouble to find and enjoy.
From the very traditional Bodega Jarel, to the cutting edge Bodega Bentomiz, quality local wines are being made with an extraordinary degree of dedication – helped by a benign climate, extraordinary geology and wonderful grapes.
And from extraordinary potential of the ubiquitous Moscatel grape to the delights of the rare indigenous Romé varietal there are treasures to be found and enjoyed that won’t ruin your stomach, head or purse!
So go ahead – indulge yourself (a little). Even if it is January.