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Letters: He wouldn't let it lie

Published:  18 January, 2007

This is a somewhat belated response to the three letters (Harpers, 4 November) protesting - yelping, screaming, spitting, indeed - at my article about Rick Stein's views on French wine (Harpers, 21 October), but I hope it is not so tardy that the subject has cooled.

When recently I met Mr Stein - who was, surprise surprise, indignant at my criticism - he said that he had in part been misquoted by the Radio Times. It was not, however, convenient for him to beat me up there and then (even with his brother, Professor John Stein, by his side), since we were all on duty at a charity auction evening at The Ivy restaurant. The person who successfully bid around 12,000 to have one Stein, Mark Hix and myself put on a private dinner party/wine tasting perhaps did not know of the spat between two thirds of his prize or he may, clever fellow (certainly very rich), be eagerly contemplating the thought of the ripe exchanges as Rick emerges from the kitchen with his saumon en croute aux truffes and I come up from the wine cellar with bottles of 1989 Comtes Lafon Meursault-Perrires or, saucier with that dish (the salmon being on the pink side), Hertz Pinot d'Alsace 1989 - both wines capable of refuting the silly idea that white wines cannot age well and long, that red wines cannot accompany fish and that French wines are largely rubbish.

It was in part - my dear Michelle (Mrs Platman, writer of the first letter) - to support the latter ideas, above, that I wrote what I wrote. Please read my article again. Where in it did

I indicate that I was being critical of the programme as transmitted? I was writing in reaction to remarks that its presenter made in the Radio Times. These remarks were ill judged and patently challengeable; so challenge them I did. And if you must drag in the book I recently wrote (with Mark Hix) on food-and-wine matching - my third in 12 years on the subject - on the grounds, as you claim, that my wine ideas do not work with certain of my co-author's dishes, I insist on knowing which ones, please. I am being accused of professional incompetence by Mrs Platman, and if she would kindly write to me, c/o this magazine, and explain exactly how Mark's dishes came to grief with my wines, I will be able to understand what went wrong and plead guilty - or, as I suspect, things were not as they should have been.

The second objector to my article, Mr Alan McCall. His inability to grasp what my article actually said borders on the barmy.

Equally, one must consign the third correspondent, Mr Ken Butler, to the same loony bin. How does he know how much I know about food preparation?

I have been cooking for 40 years as it happens, but what has

this to do with my critical response to Mr Stein's remarks?


I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT. I criticised, perfectly legitimately and rationally, his remarks on wine - remarks made to publicise the show. As for Mr Butler's preposterous response to my statement that German Rieslings are arguably the world's greatest white wines, I can only scratch my well-scratched cranium and wonder where Harpers finds some of its readers. I always assumed people who read this magazine might know something about wine and, further, that they could grasp an argument written in English. On both counts, I need to think again.

Yours, etc,

Malcolm Gluck

We find our readers in every nook and cranny of the wine and spirits trade. I think, generally speaking, most of them understand and get your drift - Ed.