I RETURNED from interstate to find my adult children waiting to surprise me by taking me out to a Father’s Day dinner.
Excellent, I said: “I will provide the wine”. We decided on Thai food and from the wine fridge I extracted a prosecco, a light, sparkling wine that goes well with middle-range Asian food such as Thai noodles.
It was not an Italian prosecco but a 2016 Box Grove from central Victoria, supplied by the Wine Gallery at $23. And here the didactic dad overtook me.
When we arrived at the restaurant and had ordered, I declaimed in advance of the meal being served.
Grabbing up the bottle, now devoid of its beer-like cap, I said: “Australian winemakers are still permitted to call the wine made from grape variety prosecco, a prosecco even though it has been re-named the “glera” grape variety in Italy.
Producers of prosecco from the Veneto region in north-east Italy have succeeded in protecting the geographic integrity of the prosecco name within the European Union but not outside of that zone.
In Australia the protection would be reflected in the legal regime established here that distinguishes particular geographic regions as not being able to be used to describe Australian wines, as well as protecting certain Australian places and language. It has an amazingly pompous name: the Register of Protected Geographical Indications and Other Terms. It’s kept by Wine Australia (an Australian government authority) in accordance with the Wine Australia? Act. The Register contains a list of geographical indications and traditional wine terms that are protected under Australian law.
“So, while sparkling wine produced in Australia can’t be called Champagne, because it doesn’t come from that region in France, we can say that prosecco is as Aussie as lamb chops because it comes from grapes formerly known as prosecco and is grown here, mostly from the King Valley in Victoria.”
My children were amazed.
“Wait it’s Father’s Day,” said my daughter, “and not one joke yet, not one cringe-worthy dad joke. How can this be so?”
My daughter indicated that the worst time was when she was in London and we had spoken on the phone. I had apparently remarked that swine flu was everywhere around the world and could lead to the oft-predicted dystopia of a land bereft of people.
“You then said that you had recently called the swine flu hotline. I was aghast. Do you remember: I said: ‘Oh, no, what happened?’ and you said: ‘I just got crackling’.
“That was so irritating,” said my daughter.
“But at least it was funny,” said my son.
I swirled the prosecco in my glass and remarked on its apple fruit flavour, how it was not overly sweet and how the wine went very well with the Thai food.
There was a silence and perhaps that’s why after a while the conversation strangely turned to death. I said yes to cremation and no to being on a machine, just like my mate Bruce, I said to my children.
“He was sitting in his living room and being contemplative. He said to his wife: ‘Just so you know, darling, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on a machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’
“So his wife gets up, pulls the plug from the television set and pours down the sink the three quarters of a bottle of Aussie prosecco that he had sitting next to his armchair.”
And there it was: the Father’s Day groan from my pigeon pair.