'Whatever happened,' I say to my wife, 'to Hungarian red wine? We used to drink a ton of it.'
'It was horrible, wasn't it?' she says, baring her teeth at her new smartphone.
'It was, quite. But not quite horrible enough.'
'How do I delete an app?'
My phone is so dumb that I don't have apps as such. On the other hand, I do have a working phone. I take the opportunity to drive home my advantage.
'It was really, really cheap. And quite drinkable, in 1990.'
'Why don't you help me for once?'
'Bull's Blood? Whatever happened to Bull's Blood? We used to drink a ton of it.'
'Now look what you made me do. I've got rid of the browser, and the browser is the one thing I wanted.'
'So you couldn't look something up for me on your smartphone?'
'The browser's gone!'
'About Hungarian wines.'
Normally she would hurl her phone at me with a cry, only the thing is so new that I know she won't. Thwarted, she has to growl instead, unable to decide whether to growl at me or the smartphone. Two easy goals in the space of five minutes, I tell myself. I saunter off to my old desktop computer, feeling that the day is not going too badly.
But the problem remains. I want some old-school Hungarian red, but where is it? The big three supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda - only seem to do whites. Bafflingly, an online supermarket wine aggregator lists a Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon from Asda, followed by Not Available and No Price, so I guess that line may have bitten the dust. Asda themselves list a Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon, but, like the other two supermarkets, they only seem to sell Hungarian whites.
Waitrose sell a white, too, and I know this because I actually wrote about it two years ago: Eva's Vineyard Chenin Blanc. Back then I called it 'A wholly transparent straw-coloured wine beverage whose colour did not change as a result of being exposed to the air' which induced 'a pleasing floral throb in my temples'. Clearly I was on top of my game, in those days. More surprisingly, the celebrated Fiona Beckett has also written it up, noting that it'd be 'Good for a bank holiday barbecue to which you've impulsively invited the entire neighbourhood.'
Even more surprisingly, and in the same piece, she draws our attention to Eva's Vineyard's own Merlot, which is listed by Supermarket Wine at the shatteringly sensible price of ￡3.99. Even more surprisingly than that, the page on which the Merlot sits is graced by a single outsider's comment, inserted by PK, in which he quotes the transparent straw-coloured crap review I had written nine months earlier about the Chenin Blanc. I am now consulting myself at several removes about a wine I think I might, in this world, want to buy on a web page which refers to a different wine altogether. This opens up such a dizzying avenue of perspectives that I have to go and lie down.
It is also the case that I am no nearer a cheap Hungarian red, because although Supermarket Wine puts it up there, Waitrose's own website doesn't, and it's certainly the case that only white is on sale at the branch down the road.
What else? Well, I can order something red online from the Hungarian WineHouse, but their cheapest is ￡10.80 a bottle, about three times the price I was hoping to get away with. Or I could get some actual Bull's Blood from DrinkSupermarket, at a much more bearable ￡5.69, but now I'm starting to ask myself, how badly do I want this stuff? At best it's a whim, at worst a folly, and the thought of making up a case and waiting three days for it to arrive makes me lose whatever enthusiasm I once had. I mean, a cheap Hungarian red is an impulse nostalgia buy or nothing at all. I can't even remember what it was about those reds that now seems so irresistible. Apart from their simplicity, incredible cheapness, robustness. Did they have a particular dusty, granular quality that, back in the Nineties, came over as sophisticated?
I return to the kitchen, where my wife has got her smartphone working again.
'It was in the rubbish bin,' she announces, smugly. 'So I just pulled it out of the rubbish bin and put it back on the start page. What did you want to look up?'
'Nothing,' I say. 'Nothing at all.'