05:56:01 pm on
Thursday 18 Jul 2024

The Real Thing
David Simmonds

The idea came to me after reading a short article in the winter edition of Watershed magazine.

In the article, the proprietors of the Hinterland Wine Company, located here in the County, explain that early harvesting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes both captures a "jolt of fresh acidity," suited to a sparkling wine and conveniently avoids having to hang on to watch the crop being destroyed or life being made miserable by rain and frost. The County should produce this kind of wine, says wine critic, Tony Aspler.

In a eureka moment, I realized that the valuable resource the County should be milking is not the wine but instead the grape. If all these little pearls are being lost on the vine and turned to mulch, can't we find a better use for them? Wasn't there another drink we could make?

Let's try changing a variable. Already taken is Bubbles, so how about alcohol? I'm not talking here about putting out one of those ersatz no-alcohol wines that are on display in the supermarkets, but that nobody buys. I'm thinking bigger. I'm thinking grape soda or County grape soda. I know, it seems like any fool could come up with the idea, but I am rushing to be the first. 

To start with, no one drinks that a lot of grape soda and it doesn't taste much like grapes anyway. That's because grape soda doesn't usually contain any grapes at all. A tasty little chemical, called sodium benzoate transmits the taste of grape. A dash of rosin and sodium hexataphosphate helps create the taste. I looked it up.

If we have some extra County grapes, we immediately have a new product: County grape soda made with real grapes. Just think of the opportunity. All these well-heeled souls tootling round the County, with their palates hanging out waiting to be educated. Regardless of how it tastes, you put County grapes in soda and tell people "it's got real grapes in it, that's what it's supposed to taste like," and they'll hug you and thank you for it. We're selling the cachet here, not the contents: the grapes can be flounced on the vine or sodden with water, for all it matters. Just as long as they are real County grapes, we're good to go. There may be some sort of issue as to how grapes will fuse with soda, but ingenuity always trumps chemistry and chemical flavouring.

Is there a market for a County grape soda? You bet chiraz there is! Look at the demographic. The boomers are all starting to retire in the County, or make lightning excursions from one of the 150 or so luxury condominium towers under construction in Toronto. They want an upscale experience, and if they live here, they want their children and grandchildren to come and visit them. What could fit more neatly?

We can market the soda in genuine recycled County glass, and put it in artisan bottles molded into the shape of the County. Or better still, and here's a really good idea, we can both build on the County's history and appeal to those of our councillors who want real manufacturing jobs by re-opening a canning operation. After all, most people drink their pop out of cans. There's a government grant in there somewhere. Think of how well a factory grape soda pop tour would complement a winery tour. How many direct sales result because none can say no to a grandkid? Come think of it, we could even put some pop into limited edition barrels made by Pete the Barrel Maker for derivatives traders to buy for their children.

Forgive me if I sound effervescent about the possibilities, but just think of them. If grape soda takes off, and in my mind, it's only a matter of seizing the moment, we could move into genuine flavoured sodas from other County strengths, like pumpkin pie or asparagus.

If for some reason that doesn't pan out, we could just move a little further down the grape food chain. We could make County grape jelly or County raisins. Now there's a thought: we could have The Reasons dress up as the Ontario Raisins and go head to head with those second-tier ones from California. My money's on County boys every time.

For now, let's stick the soda for now and just remember success is at least 60% attitude, 50% good luck and good timing, and only 10% planning. Let's go for it!

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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