And as Dr Feelgood fades away, we ask what is the best drink to have with our supper. "Easy" you say. "Wine, occasionally beer and a light Fino sherry on Friday when we have fish and chips. Non?"
Well, the answer could be - as you say in the one bit of French remembered from school - "non".
That's according Bas de Groot, the world's first Milk Sommelier. Bas claims that milk is "a liquid of serious complexity akin to a fine wine". "The main thing I do is tell the story of the rich diversity of milk..." he says, immediately making it impossible for me to poke fun at him. I've spent the last thirty years telling stories about the rich diversity of wine, claiming it's a perfectly sensible way to make your living. The fact that I tell stories about wine and he about milk is a quibble. Neither of us are curing cancer or likely to win a Nobel Prize.
Yet the reaction of wine fans has been to poke fun at Bas. Including - I'm ashamed to say - me. It's been done in a range of rather po-faced ways; wine people specialise in the online equivalent of looking over pince-nez spectacles with mild disdain. Typically my own particular contribution to the mockery was gif-based...
But beyond the name calling and sniggers, are wine and milk "akin" Or is there a case to be made that wine is in some way special? A different class of drink? Something where expertise makes you a better class of person? Because to be honest that's why I got into wine in the first place. If I'd have been able to achieve a similar social status just considering the differences between gold and silver top, it feels like a bit of a waste of time.
Well, wine does have one thing up its sleeve...
It gets you giggly. Whereas milk rarely does once you move onto Farley's Rusks. But there is another reason why wine remains the king of drinks. And for this we need to look to the example of the greatest Milk Taster of all.
I can concede it IS possible to discover a remarkable amount from tasting milk. The breed of cow (sometimes), what they ate (occasionally), how it was processed (usually), where it came from (if it's very special). But the point is, it takes a very particular palate to do that. For the rest of us we value milk because it all tastes pretty much the same. That is, "milky". Whilst milk may be in general a "liquid of serious complexity" compared with Tizer, it's a pretty uniform sort of complexity. It all tastes roughly the like "milk", and we like it that way.
Wine, au contraire, is compound-for-compound the most complex drink on the planet. And its possible - with the right practice - to tell the "breed" of grape, what soil they were grown on, how the wine was made and where the wine came from. And to do it consistently. That is a reason why we like it. As an enology professor explains to Bianca Bosker in her book Cork Dork, "after blood, wine is the most complex matrix there is". That complexity means wine has the capacity to create taste sensations beyond words. A mental gestalt that only the best can accurately describe, sparking neurons across the brain, reviving memories like a latter-day Proust. For the rest of us, once again, there are gifs:
So if we're not going to be drinking half a litre of Cravendale, what do we drink? Well how about Les Hauts de Saint Martin, St Chinian 2014 (£6.99 Co-op)? A darkly-fruity wine with a hint of the herbal hillside. Its mouth-coating texture makes it a perfect wine for sausages... mmmm, sausages. (I told you. I'm no Proust).
When you've had your ripe, red Saint Chinian go and grab a bottle of Tblvino Qvevris 2015, a Georgian, "Amber" wine (£10.00 M&S). And a bottle of Aldi, The Exquisite Collection Cotes de Provence Rosé 2016 (£5.99). And a bottle of Navajas Blanco Crianza, Rioja 2014 (£7.95 The Wine Society). Each one completely different. The textures go from grippy, to feather-light to rounded. The flavours go from orange peel to wild strawberries to nuttily-fresh. The foods they match go from "everything" to light seafood grills to paella.
Milk has textures and flavours that range from "a bit watery" to "sort of normal" to "that's really very creamy isn't it". And it goes with... Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, tea and insomnia.
And spending a little more on milk means you're in Waitrose. Spending a little more on wine means you enjoy a lot more wine. If you liked the red St Chinian, you'll adore Domaine Gauby, Les Calcinaires Rouges 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Villages (£14.95 Berry Bros & Rudd). This is a long-haired wine of the best kind, a whiff of wild-yeast and sun-tanned fruit giving it a very particular sense of place. The wine-equivalent of Bodhi in Point Break
If you like the Amber wine, the Rose and White Rioja then you can spend a little more too. Pheasants Tears Saperavi 2015 (£22.00 Highbury Vintners) is a dense, brooding wine made in buried kvevris, an 8000 year-old wine making technique that quite literally lets the wine interact with the earth. It has a crackling freshness and chewy palate for people who want to do some thinking with their drinking. Château Léoube Secret Rosé 2016 (£20.00 Daylesford Organic) is a perfect food matching rose, (and Gold Medal Winner at the World Rose Awards) suffused with herbs, pear-textured fruit and wild strawberries. Bodegas Beronia Rioja Viura 2015 (£10.00 Ocado) shows you the diversity in a single style of wine - with White Rioja going from soft, nutty and gentle when it's aged in oak, to tingling with grapefruit and lemon in this ripsnortingly good-value wine. Possibly one of the best value whites in the UK today.
As you drink each one, the aromas, textures and flavours will take your mind to vineyards, chateaux and lazy days in the sun. It's part of the experience of enjoying wine. And that's why we love wine so much.
And what about milk's ability to evoke? To take your mind somewhere magical? Most weeks I receive a text from my mother. She likes to keep me abreast of news in the local paper. We live in a farming community, proud of its local produce. And every week on the back page there's an article with an image that captures the alchemy that is a glass of that local produce. It comes to mind every time I have a glass. As Dorothy might have said: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Provence any more..."
Got milk? Get wine.