Murdering peasants in the Portuguese Alentejo

Cork tree in PortugalYou know that thing where you run your finger around the lip of a thin wine glass and set up a harmonic tone... thereby according to popular folklore, killing a sailor somewhere in the world...?

I've just done a terrible thing and I feel so guilty. I've killed off a peasant.

Well... maybe not killed him exactly, but killed off his livelihood and thrown him and his miserable family out of their pathetic cottage on the cork plantation in the beautiful Alentejo region of Portugal, and onto the streets.

I've just opened a screw-cap bottle of wine.

When the first plastic corks started to appear in wine bottles, I didn't care for them much. But then how would you know you're buying one? You can't avoid buying bottles with plastic corks if they are covered like traditional wine bottles (and, it must be said, you don't get that thing with the corkscrew tearing out half the cork leaving you to delicately prise the remainder out).

But when the idea was first proposed that wine bottling should be modernised one step further by using screw caps, I had a luddite hissy fit: "Absolutely no screw capped wine bottle shall cross the threshold of my home!"

How times have changed.

Now I'm a repeat offender, murdering peasant livelihoods with the gay abandon of a drug baron armed with an Uzi! Sometimes, given the choice between two similar wines & prices, I'll even prefer the screw-cap. (It cost me to admit to that. I may need a drink to steady my nerves)

I haven't yet crossed the line into double, "surf and turf", homicide - opening a screw cap bottle, drinking a glass and then running my finger round it, wiping out sailors and peasants simultaneously..... but it's only a matter of time!


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