A White Wine Spritzer


The Three Arbuteers took me out for lunch a couple of weeks ago. If I weren’t such a new recruit I might have been worried that this meant my days on The Arb were numbered. “Some good food is bound to soften the blow, don’t you think? And she’s less likely to throw something at us if there are people around. Come on chaps, we’ll do it together. Jonesy, give GT a call and fix up a date for lunch.” No, I felt pretty confident that if I were being dropped they wouldn’t be taking me for Michelin-starred Icelandic fare at Texture.

Crispy fish skinsI’ll leave one of the boys to do the restaurant review. They did pay, after all, so I reckon that gives them right of bagsy. All I’ll say is that deep-fried fish skins taste pretty much as you imagine they would. The point of my tale begins with the arrival of the wine-list. It was passed to Stirling who took it with the air of a man to whom the sommelier is his confidante. Being the perfect gentleman and host, Stirling asked me if I preferred to have red or white wine with my lunch and I plumped for white.

I honestly thought that at least two of my lunch companions would get whiplash from spinning their heads round so fast in their shock at my decision. It turns out that The Three Arbuteers have a particular penchant for red wine. And not just any red wine, for Languedoc in particular. The concept of having white wine was clearly way out of their comfort zone. Lord only knows what would have happened if I’d said “Do you know what, fellas? What I really fancy is a white wine spritzer”. There’d have been an Icelandic eruption to rival any pesky volcano.

And that’s my secret. Although not so secret a secret because I’ve been ordering white wine spritzers in bars all over town recently. It’s fair to say that a spritzer does carry with it more than a hint of the 1980s, and probably not in a good ‘on-trend’ way. Just remember though that if Balmain managed to make shoulder-pads seem like a good idea again, there’s no reason why the spritzer can’t become this summer’s must-have drink. It just isn’t cool yet.

It's Spritzer's all round...where's Jonesy got to?I’m quite unabashed at ordering my spritzer (maybe practice is making perfect) but I’ve found that if a man is put in the position of ordering one for me, he isn’t quite so comfortable. His dread of the phrase “And a white wine spritzer for the lady” is almost palpable. Whether he’s thinking of himself as Del Boy or Tom Cruise in Cocktail probably depends on both the man and the bar in question.

Social stigma may be the downside for now, but the upside of the spritzer is that it’s refreshing, delicious and you don’t get too sozzled too quickly. As a lunchtime or early evening drink it’s up there with the best of ‘em. And I daresay it will also be a pretty fine choice for whiling away a lazy afternoon.

So some tips on the spritzer. If anyone tries to make one with lemonade then they are ridiculous. Soda water is the only way to go. After diligently testing different ratios of wine to soda water, my recommendation is two-thirds wine to one-third water. Drop in some ice and a twist of lemon and that’s it. Don’t skimp too much on the quality of the wine. Bad wine will still taste like bad wine in a spritzer, in fact it’ll probably taste worse. The best spritzer I’ve had so far was in the bar at the newly refurbished Mortons members club. Perfectly and elegantly made. So good that the thing about not getting sozzled was somewhat negated.

In case you were worried, after their initial reaction your Three Arbuteers coped manfully and gallantly with having white wine over our lunch. If they ever invite me to lunch again I’ll let you know how they cope with me having a spritzer – unless they’ve given me my cards, of course.

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