Buying wine in France

Encouraged by successive chancellors of varied political hue, many consumers have taken their wine business to the Channel ports. Not surprisingly disappointments are frequent; it is not unusual to hear customers bemoaning that an apparent bargain on a French shelf turns into drain-cleaner in a glass back home. No sympathy from us, I'm afraid. We were reminded of an obscure parable, recently discovered in a hidden corner of largely unstudied religious literature. Its words are wise indeed and deserve serious contemplation; here it is in full:

nd in the gardens of the land there did rise up a great pall of smoke, for it was the season of Bar-Be-Cue. The people did feast upon burnt offerings and uncooked chicken and were smitten with Salmo-Nella.

ne of the host heard siren voices and cried, "Yea, verily will I voyage afar to seek out cheaper vino," and journeyed southwards to the land of Frog. And there arose from the denizens of the land of Frog a muttering, a rubbing of hands and a ringing of tills and a voice was heard, saying in it's native tongue, " Here cometh another tightfisted Brit, let us palm him off with this old wampo that his country's merchants have already rejected."

nd it was easy for he cared more for price Yea! even more than quality. "Swipe me!" he quoth, "Wot a bargain!" And he did load his chariot to overflowing. The people of the land of Frog did chuckle all the way to the bank and their finance minister saw that it was good.

o did he return to the land of his fathers and did boast about the cleverness of his buying. But he did forget to add in the cost of his petrol, the price of the channel-crossing, his lunch, the babysitters, the hassle of the ferry being late, the rage of the Prince of Cust-Oms and being held up on the Brent-Wood-By-Pass, Yea! for an hour and a quarter.

nd he did reach his home sore weary and not a little miffed. Then he did give his neighbour glassful after glassful until his cup ranneth over. And lo! his neighbour did liken it unto badger's widdle.

nd there arose a great wailing and a gnashing of teeth for his prize had cost him dear in effort and more gold than he admitted to and yet was a crock of crap."

Here the parchment crumbled away, apparently, but this ancient scrap provides us with a salutory message for us all when buying wine.

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