I don’t know if you have been to a booze shop lately. If it’s been some little time since you called in, I think I may need to tell you a few things:
a. Brandy has gotten terribly expensive since the old St. Agnes days. When the Australian government found out that they had inadvertently let some money sidle past them, they instantly invented laws to recoup it. Thus brandy went up to whiskey price. You might as well drink the imported French stuff now.
b. You can get just as many cheapo wines as you could before, but now you need not get them in demijohns or cardboard boxes. The wine glut and the wine gluttons have combined to bottle it in regular glass.
c. You used to be able to trust a label …when there were fewer labels. Now there are so many and they are so imaginative, that you need to be a cryptographer to figure out what is in the bottle.
d. As a follow on from the above, you will have a chance to read a great many things printed on wine bottles. Mind you, many of them will not be true or useful, but if you are in the habit of turning to a 1959 Soviet state statistics book for light entertainment, you’ll have a good time. Remember that what lies within the bottle may bear little relation to the lies on the outside of the bottle.
e. There are three zones of bottles in the beer fridge; the ones you recognize, the ones you don’t, and the ones that seem so implausibly named as to suggest deliberate fraud. With the craft brewery, the art brewery, the micro brewery, and the vat of something under the stairs, the field has widened. Once beer was the game played by one or two breweries per capital city – now it is an international league. And there are expensive dodgy players faking injuries on every shelf of the fridge.
f. Can you read English? Can you operate a computer? Good – you’re hired as the new advertising man for the brewery. The first thing we need is a name for the wheelbarrow of ingredients that we’ve just dumped in the vat. It’ll be ready to bottle and cap off in a few weeks and we need to have the labels ready in time. The brewmaster suggests something robust…so if you can come up with a design variant that involves pirates, sludge, and summer breezes, we should be ready for you. Try not to make it sound like a Latvian perversion.
g. What do you mean, you want an ordinary vodka? We have it spiced with fruits, vegetables, and bone marrow. You can get grass, stems, thorns, and head bolts from a Chevrolet engine in the bottles. The bottles themselves are shaped like machine pistols or sexual organs. If you just want alcohol go to the chemists…
h. No, the lady who does the taste tests for the winery isn’t here this week. She won’t be back for a fortnight. Last time she was in, she spilled some of the local valley chardonnay on her arm and they have had to do a skin graft.