...you should stop in at Probus Wines in Oughterard for a few bottles of something fine. Probus is an independent business, specializing in whatever's good, with a wide selection from France among other countries. I couldn't resist going in to say hello, but I was hardly in the door when I spotted one or two familiar 'faces' on the shelves. There were wines from a company that has just sent Bubble Brothers samples, on the understanding that they are not currently represented in Ireland; that company can hardly have forgotten about Probus. A fib, so. Like Bubble Brothers, when Paul at Probus introduces a new wine to his list, he insists on securing exclusive rights to it in this country. Ireland's just too small a market to have your delicious discovery popping up in a restaurant or wine shop that's not one of your customers. When it happens, it's embarrassing and unpleasant all round. And without going into more detail, my friendly chat with proprietor Paul revealed to a still greater degree the extent to which the export salespeople of wineries can be a bit economical where the truth is concerned. We agreed that perhaps they think this is England, where you can slip the same wine in at different ends of the country and perhaps no-one will notice. In Ireland there are just under three million people of legal drinking age. Most of them don't drink wine; and, of those who do, only a small proportion has sufficient interest in the stuff to buy from the independents - after all, the supermarkets and off-licences do an adequate job. So we pretty much all know each other in Ireland, export managers. And will find you out if you try to pull a fast one where exclusive rights to a wine are concerned.
I left with a very generous gift of a bottle of a big, orangey, mellow, Chenin Blanc from South Africa, which was more than consolation when we got home for the hour spent crawling through Limerick - on Sunday? at 6.30pm on Fathers' Day? Who is doing all this driving? Anyway, with regard to the not entirely monoplicitous wine companies Paul and I talked about, as the poet says, "I could name names. I could be indiscreet." But I won't. One good turn deserves another, so to pass on the baton of Paul's kindness, the first commenter to name the poet can have a voucher for our webshop for ten euro. (And, as one for everybody in the audience, I'll post here a slightly more detailed recipe for that gumbo tomorrow. Y'all hurry back now.)