An interesting game for the whole family from an unlikely source – Kingsley Amis: knight of the realm, grand old fossil of English letters, well known soak, not so closet racist and anti-Semite. Winesmanship, described in the Christmas stocking filler Everyday Drinking: the distilled Kingsley Amis (Bloomsbury, 2008) as “how to get away with giving your guests the vilest plonk imaginable and passing yourself off as an expert at the same time” has long been a popular pastime at divers wine evenings and gourmet experiences around town.

kingers Winesmanship

Of course it should come as no surprise from someone who can conclude a review of Welsh windbag Dylan Thomas with the recommendation “someone ought to give Dylan a bouquet of old bogwort before long.” Amis offers some handy defenses against the dark arts practiced by anoraks and train-spotters. First off “never offer an opinion yourself. If asked what you think, say breezily, ‘Jolly good’, as though you always say that whatever it’s like. This may suggest that your mind’s on higher things than wine, like gin or sex.”

Amis concludes “the object is to make knowing about wine seem like an accomplishment on the level of knowing about the flora and fauna of Costa Rica or the history of tattooing – well worth while, but hardly in the mainstream of serious thought.”