There are times when the opportunity to play a prank on someone is much too good to pass up especially if it openly presents itself to you. I am sure that some of you can relate to that; perhaps even first-hand.

This particular well-executed & harmless little drama that I have the pleasure of presenting to you was enacted by me & a dear friend of mine on a most annoying braggart during a Christmas Eve party in the year of our Lord 2017.

Braggart: Wine tasting is not for you everyday people. It really isn’t. It takes a special gift of nature to enable one to become a fine wine taster. I’ve done it so many times now since my first glass of fine wine in 1998 that I can tell one vintage from another in my sleep.

Another guest at the party: Surely with training & practice, many of us can achieve that level of expertise? Aren’t there schools for this sort of profession?

Braggart: Utter nonsense! Training & experience have nothing to do with it. For example, I can tell even without looking at the label on this wine bottle (which was on clear display on the table beside this affable individual for the last 4 hours by the way) that it is undeniably a 2004 Pichon Lalande. A Bordeaux wine for those of you who don’t know.

My friend & I were across the room (a healthy sized one mind you) and we could hear the braggart going on & on even with the music blaring away (no, it wasn’t the pleasant Christmas time music that we had expected…).

A cheerful thought occurred to me and I shared it with my friend. She readily agreed and jumped at the chance to give it a try.

The two of us walked back to the kitchen, took a gallon of water, some lemon juice, vanilla essence, black coffee, red food colouring and sugar. She mixed small quantities of each of them nicely and then filled one crystal wine glass halfway with this solution and the leftover was poured into a wine bottle without a label.

I took a video of her mixing these ingredients. Call it the last nail in the coffin.

We walked over to the other end of the table where the braggart’s speech was still airing on all channels and we began our little side conversation along these lines in a slightly elevated tone of voice just enough to be within earshot of our dear connoisseur.

My friend & I placed an empty crystal wine glass beside this wine bottle sans a label in anticipation of what was to come soon in case our performance went according to plan.

Me: So you actually can tell me which kind of wine & vintage this one is; can you? I will bet you $ 500 that you cannot. No one can as far as I am concerned. It is impossible!

Neither my friend nor I really know whether it was the hint of a challenge or the mention of the sum of money involved that got the braggart’s attention but the discourse stopped abruptly and almost everyone in the room had already turned to face the two of us.

My friend: My dear man, you’re on. Be ready to lose $ 500 tonight. Merry Christmas to me indeed!

Me: Well, go on then?

My friend: It’s well balanced, oddly closed, definitely complex, there’s a herbal touch, hardly any legs after swirling, slightly reticent and quite supple. Definitely a Merlot. I would even go so far as to say it is a 2013.

Me: Oh you can say whatever you want if there isn’t a real wine tasting expert in here to verify or defy your claim, can’t you? Do you expect me to simply take you at your word when $ 500 is at stake?

It is surely on an occasion such as this that the expression ‘hook, line & sinker’ came into being. The braggart authoritatively walked around the table, nudged me aside slightly to face my friend (she is far more attractive than I can ever hope to be I am afraid), took the empty crystal wine glass, filled it with some of the unlabeled bottle’s contents and after a significant amount of swirling, sniffing & what I can only describe as a polite form of gargling, the braggart announced a momentous decision. One could hear a pin drop before the silence was broken.

Braggart: The beautiful young lady here isn’t too bad for an amateur but you are still wrong my dear. This one is considerably round, a touch lean, slightly foxy, quite firm and has a bit of an aftertaste that I would describe as fruity. Most definitely a Malbec albeit I must admit it does come across as a 2013.

My friend shrugged, shook hands with me sportingly and then I passed the video that I had taken along to everyone in the room as we all headed towards the dinner table. As it turned out, the braggart was among the last to view the video after almost everyone else had seen it and entirely lost their composure with fits of laughter.

As I recall the rest of that evening, none of us really did get to wish the braggart a Merry Christmas as the clock struck twelve. Some personal emergency had come up suddenly…