Horsey Thoughts From Abroad

Lunchtime at a winery in Constantia, near Cape Town, I am offered a weighty wine list. I narrow the choice down to a red wine with ‘Bordeaux characteristics’. I study the tasting notes. I pause at ‘a hint of cigar box’.

I admit that I don’t really get tasting notes. Once, at a tasting to which I had been invited, I was unable to detect the pencil shavings which I was assured distinguished the contents of my glass. The day following, I bought a pencil (I can never find one at home), plus a sharpener and went to work. Sniffing the coils of shaved wood I could smell nothing resembling a grape. I believe in doing one’s own research. The ‘wine expert’ had clearly been a fraud.

‘Cigar box’, however, is in a wholly different league. Was the box of wood or cardboard? With or without contents? And how could a wine taster possibly be a cigar smoker? She or he wouldn’t have a nose capable of telling sauternes from vinegar.

My intimates from the race terraces of the Hong Kong Jockey Club would never be taken in by such nonsense. I should make clear that ‘intimates’ in this context refers only to the shared inhalation of smoke. Prior acquaintance is not required. For many the progress of a favoured horse in any race can only be appreciated through the haze of a cigar – sizes varying from big, to very big, to enormously large. And I am certain they never sit around discussing the Bordeaux notes in their smokes.

At a time of declining global cigar sales, promotional campaigns for cigar makers at Hong Kong racecourses present untapped possibilities. One can imagine the Cohiba Robusta 1650 metres handicap, with a trophy in the shape of an ashtray for the owner, with humidors for the trainer and successful jockey. But I digress.

Back in Constantia I order the Bordeaux-like wine. I swirl, I sniff, I savour, I swallow. And the ‘cigar box’? Clearly made of the finest Spanish cedar. How could anybody fail to know?

One thought on “Horsey Thoughts From Abroad

  1. Actually, I prefer Bordeaux with cigar box characteristics, it usually adds up to more personality even if one doesn’t stick in ones nose and get immediate pictures of dusky Cuban maidens rolling cigars on their perfectly formed (etc. etc.)


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