If you’re not already familiar with the magical world of Harry Potter, a Boggart is a shape-shifting creature that assumes the form of whatever it thinks will most frighten its victim. In Harry’s Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson taught by Professor Lupin, the werewolf-professor supplies a Boggart trapped in a wardrobe for Harry and his fellow students to practise their Boggart-banishing skills.
So, in response to this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge prompt selected by two-time Challenge winner the Drunken Cyclist, the question I am asking myself (and you) is “what shape would your Boggart take when coming out of the wardrobe?”
I have several possibilities:
1) A really scary sommelier, sneering at my wine choice. I know, I know, the sommelier is there to help us to make us make the best selection to maximise our wining dining pleasure. Maybe I’ve been scarred by an experience when I was much younger and knew virtually nothing (as opposed to now knowing only slightly nothing) about wine. I was on a work away day with my team (Intellectual Property and IT lawyers) to “bond” and think big thoughts about Intellectual Property and IT law. It goes without saying that a three-course lunch with wine was essential to this process. One of the older, wiser members of the team claimed to “know about wine”, striking awe into our hearts and taking charge of our order. The wine arrived, my colleague tasted it and pronounced it corked. The sommelier tasted it and pronounced it fine. Everyone else (myself included) sat in embarrassed silence (we are British) and pretended it wasn’t happening. I don’t remember how it was resolved; I’ve blocked it from my memory.
2) A spine-chillingly bad Chardonnay, the sort that tastes like the taste that a wombat (? according to Wikipedia) must experience when chewing its way through an oak tree. I know, if you’re going to drink wine by the glass in a pub, you take your chances.
3) Opening a Champagne bottle. OK, I know this one is really pathetic, but I just don’t like it. I think that it’s the anticipation of an imminent explosion close to my face. Apparently it’s a pressure of about 5 or 6 atmospheres, which is equivalent to double-decker bus tyres. I’m feeling less pathetic now.
4) A WSET Level 4 exam. Having completed Level 3, it seems logical to take it to the next level, but it sounds really tough. I enjoyed reading Connoisaurus’ recent post about starting the Diploma, but look at that pile of books!
5) While the items referred to above give me the heebie-jeebies, I can (more or less) deal with them. The real fear that I’m battling at the moment isn’t directly connected to wine. Back in January, I resolved to join a local writers’ circle. I phoned the guy who organises it to find out a bit more. He explained that everyone takes their turn to read out something they’ve written, then the other members of the group give them feedback on it. Believe me, putting my girlish thoughts out there for others to read is scary enough when hiding behind an internet pseudonym and a photo of my much-loved but sadly deceased cat. The idea of reading them aloud to a roomful of writers and listen to them tell me to my face (my own face, not a furry bewhiskered face) what they think makes me feel physically ill (much like a glass of bad Chardonnay). Confession time: when I entered the MWWC for the first time (also in January) I published my entry, but didn’t do anything else with it, hoping that no-one would find it. However, Jeff, using some form of dark art internet wizardry, found it. And people were really sweet (like a glass of bad Chardonnay) about it. Thank you.
When confronted with a Boggart, you need to speak the charm “riddikulus” and force it to look amusing. So, how would I tackle my line-up of Boggarts?
To deal with the sommelier, the answer has to be: transform him into the gorgeous Sherlock Holmes (as portrayed by the delicious Benedict Cumberbatch) disguised as a wine waiter with un accent français horrible in order to surprise Dr Watson, who has spent the last two years mourning his best friend, but has bounced back sufficiently to be on the point of proposing to his girlfriend. With a good bottle of Champagne.
For the Champagne, I was trying to imagine a kind of screw-top bottle that would release the pressure slowly and calmly. That’s got to be easy, right? Although I guess it would take some of the impact out of Grand Prix celebrations. Then I realised that if it was that easy, someone would already have done it. So I thought, the obvious answer is to face my demon head-on and perfect the noble art of sabrage.
How to see off the WSET Diploma (incorporating the scarily big pile of books)? This requires a spot of reverse psychology. Firstly, convert the pile of wine books into this:
In comparison, the wine books look so inviting that I will dive in and gladly stay up until the small hours reading about the difference between a pot still and a continuous still. Gratuitous diagram:
The bad Chardonnay, I was about to give this one up as hopeless. Then I thought: beavers eat wood, don’t they? Hopefully Connoisaurus or one of her fellow Canadians can confirm. But I thought that I’d end with a cute picture of a beaver eating a tree. I just hope that none of my fellow Monthly Wine Writing Challengers has a fear of Castor Canadensis. Enjoy!