The scene: Branca, a good Italian restaurant in Jericho, Oxford. Two chums — Old Parn (OP) and Faith Amurao (FA) — sit toying with the remains of ham-ensconsed halibut. They are drinking wine from a curiously-shaped bottle, which their waiter has confidently declared (unprompted) to be ‘really drinkable.’
OP: So. The wine. How many stars (out of five)?
FA: Two and a half.
OP: Okay. I think two. Anyway, you’re not allowed half stars. You can’t have a half star.
FA: But you could do it. You could do it with shading…
OP: Check your telescope, Faith. If you can find me a half star up in the night sky, you can use a half star in your rating for this wine. Until then, no half stars for you.
FA: Anyway, now that you said it, I think it actually is a two as well. I wish I’d said two at first. But I think I wanted to give it an average mark. So as not to be too disparaging. Two means slightly worse than average, right?
OP: 0 means terrible; 1 means some flaws; 2 means okay; 3 means good; 4 means very good; 5 means outstanding.
FA: Okay. If three means good, it’s definitely a two.
OP: I’m actually impressed that you even answered the question. You’re good at giving ratings, obviously. How about our waiter, then? How many marks would you give him (out of ten) for hotness?
FA: His head is a bit squashed. He’s slightly below average. Maybe 4.4?
OP: And what about the man who slipped you his number in Wagamama the other day?
FA: He’s actually quite similar to our waiter. His head is quite small too. I’d give him 4.6.
So, there you have it. One below-average wine in a weirdly-shaped bottle; two below-average men with weirdly-shaped heads. And not one of them exciting enough to win Faith’s affections (or, I might add, Old Parn’s).
If you’re drinking in Branca in Oxford, then (food: very good, by the by), I’d choose something other than their Verdicchio.
They probably won’t, however, let you choose your waiter.
Price £8.99 from The Co-op (currently reduced — would you believe it? — to £4.49. At which price, fair doos, try it for yourself). Needless to say, it costs a fair crack more than that at Branca.