What was the first cocktail you ever made?
Mine was a speed potion.
In order that I may elaborate further, I’d like to introduce you to my sister — Young Parn, Koozle or Parnell’s Sister, as she is variously known — who, by virtue of being two years my junior, qualified for that most precious form of sibling love: merciless, vile-spirited deceit and manipulation.
Spare a thought, o reader, for Parnell’s Sister.
Spare a thought for her, specifically, as she sits, her eager gob agape, listening to me telling her that I am training to be a wizard.
YES, ROWLING, DID YOU GET THAT? A WIZARD. ROLL THAT UP IN YOUR FORTHCOMING PLAGIARISM COURT SUMMONS AND SMOKE IT. PARN GOT THERE FIRST.
‘What kind of magic can you do?’ asks Koozle, her eyes a-sparkle with gullible excitement.
‘Oh, well, I’m not very good yet,’ I nonchalantly reply, with the inspired modesty of the sociopathic liar. ‘But they did teach me how to make a speed potion.’
‘A speed potion?’
‘A speed potion.’
Next thing, we’re in the kitchen. Of course. And — inspired in equal parts by George’s Marvellous Medicine and innate pre-pubescent sadism — I am making my sister a speed potion.
God knows (and I hope the old chap will one day find it in his heart to forgive me for) what I put into that horrific concoction. I’m fairly sure (sorry, Katie, sorry) there was Fairy Liquid. There was definitely a spoonful of marmite, ketchup, every variety of fruit squash available, a generous measure of milk and an old fruit pastille.
And — of course — in order for the potion to have its full effect, it had to be drunk all in one go. Which, to her further great credit, Young Parn managed with aplomb. I hardly even think she tasted it, honestly, so consumed was she with manic anticipation.
‘HOW DO I KNOW IF IT WORKED?‘ she screamed, jiggling impatiently from one stumpy little leg to the other.
‘Um … Well, you know how I’m faster at running than you, normally? Well — I’ll race you to the bottom of the garden. If it’s worked, you’ll beat me.’
Reader, it is a testament to the inordinate power of the placebo effect that she might even have done so even if I hadn’t slowed my own running pace to a crawl. Because never again have I seen my sister run as she did that day — spurred like a adrenaline-pumped greyhound by the intensity of her misguided belief in her despicable sibling’s lies.
Quinta da Espiga doesn’t taste like my speed potion (or what I imagine my speed potion might’ve tasted like. I mean, Christ. You don’t imagine I was idiotic enough to try it, do you?) — but it does taste a tiny bit like the second cocktail I ever made: my own top secret recipe consisting of tropical fruit squash, orange squash and water. Mixologists, take note.
That’s not to say that this wine tastes like a mixture of cheap concentrates concocted by a malicious child. Oh dear. This is going all wrong, isn’t it? Because I actually rather like the stuff. In a yes-very-nice-move-right-along kind of way. It’s sharp and bracing and gob-parchingly dry, and, yeah, there’s a backdrop of citrus and tropical fruits that reminds me of my childhood squash-mixing — in case you hadn’t picked that bit up from the laboured anecdote which consumes far more of the length of this post than does the actual review-type bit.
AND WHAT, PRECISELY, IS WRONG WITH THAT, PRAY?
Considering it’s only 12.5% ABV, it’s punchy as you like. It’s got a kind of steeliness to it that I rather admire, and it’s a little forthright, a little dominant — in a polite, middle-class, fluffy-Anne-Summers-handcuffs kind of way.
So whilst I can’t pretend it’ll make you run across the garden at twice your normal speed, I’d contend that — at well under £7 — it’s nice enough to warrant a shambling kind of jog across to fetch your wallet and order a bottle to try for yourself.
Region Lima, Portugal
Grapes Fernao Pires, Vital, Arinto and others, apparently
Price £6.25 from The Wine Society