Still or sparkling?

How do I recognise a proper slap dash night out?

It’s about bubbles.

I can identify a corker of a night not by whether I blow dry my hair, or fanny about with individual fake eyelashes. It’s not always about flying across the world for a dinner reservation (because surely only crazy people do that) and it doesn’t have to involve shuffling awkwardly in our seats while floor staff get fancy with a truffle shaver.

But our big nights out involve sparkling.

Water with bubbles in it

Sparkling water.

Yes, we know we’re exciting.

But hear me out.

It’s the first real question you face at a restaurant. Knowing your name and being able to spout it on cue at the front desk doesn’t really count.  But your response to; “Still or sparkling, Sir?” has a habit of setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

Nine times out of ten we’ll step into the breach with a sly retort of  “*insert location* tap is fine for us”. And how the waitstaff handle this often tells you a lot about the place.

But on the nights when the spouse selects sparkling, I know it’s a special one.

(NB It’s not like we’re cutting down on the drinking.  There’s isn’t currently a foetus to be nurtured, or a marathon for someone to run).

The choice of sparkling just means we’re going to sit at the table for longer than usual. That we’re going to spend a little more dosh on the wine (though  there’s every chance we’ll still end up picking the second cheapest white on the list. Over the years “we’re looking for an aromatic white” is code we’ve learned for “please sommelier, we’d like something interesting but not too pricey”). And depending on the scale of the restaurant, the second cheapest white wine on a list can still do some fiscal damage. So if we’re spending more on wine, then a glass of sparkling water on the side helps us nurse it longer.

In France and Spain, we’ve favoured Badoit. In the UK it’s been Hildon. And if I’m in Australia, or anywhere else around the world that has a splash of class, it’s most likely to be Tasmanian Rain. It even sounds soothing.

One of the reasons that I stopped buying sparkling water for home was because of the burden of the packaging. It weighed on me- and not just when I was schlepping the bags home from the shops. So there is something nice about finding a bottled water company that has committed to offsetting all of its carbon emissions.

The fact that it’s from Tasmania and  purportedly never never touches the ground- well, that’s both an extra bit of sparkle and a useful anecdote to drop.

If we’re going to be sitting at the table for longer, I’m going to be needing some extra fodder for conversation.

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