At some point, everyone needs to bluff it to make it. To prove our point, we ask celebrities about their biggest bluffs. Approach the bench…
Have you ever gotten something for nothing?
I get something for nothing the whole time. I’m currently drowning under oceans of champagne for a feature. It’s a hard life.
Henry Jeffreys explains…
- Chocoholic Pinotage
Wines this horrible are a gift to a wine writer as most bad wines are just dull. This was actively disgusting.
- Sauvignon Blanc
A variety that wine writers tend to denigrate mainly, I think, because it’s popular (see Pinot Grigio.) It can actually be wonderful and can even get better with age.
- Best wine gag
I love the pun, Carignan Camping, and have been trying to work it into a column for years.
- Choosing a decent wine
It’s very easy: go to a good shop, spend £9 and you can’t really go wrong, same in restaurants, though you do have to spend more than £9. My advice would be to become a regular at a good wine merchant and a good restaurant.
To whom, or what, do you owe your big break?
I owe it to the writer Craig Brown. I sent him my wine blog and he passed it on to Rachel Johnson who was editor of The Lady at the time. She called me into her office to discuss being The Lady’s wine critic. On my arrival I was ushered up and Rachel then asked if I wanted to be her new features editor. I said that I didn’t know anything about being a features editor. She replied ‘nobody does!’ She then offered me the job of wine critic – something I knew more about than features, if only marginally.
Where and when was the last time you felt entirely out of place?
At wine tasting at Berry Bros just before Xmas surrounded by the cream of the British wine writing establishment tasting 19th century Madeiras. I always feel a bit out of place at tastings but this time I expected to be thrown out at any minute.
When was the last, or the first time you bluffed your way into an event you weren’t officially invited to?
I’m terrible at that. I never managed to get into exclusive parties and clubs in my younger days. I do remember getting drunk one night after the Booker prize and ending up part of a big group getting drunk with Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay. We ended up at Chinawhite, Gordon pushed his way to front and demanded that his entourage be let in. Of course the bouncers obliged until they got to me and they said ‘even him?’ Gordon looked at me and said ‘yes, even him.’ Later Gordon got cross with me when he was buying everyone drinks and I just wanted a beer, I was very drunk by this point, rather than Cristal of Grey Goose or whatever celebrities drink.
When would you advocate bluffing it?
When you’re not surrounded by bona fide experts. One of the great things about wine is that many of the people, so I have recently found out, are also rather insecure about their knowledge so within reason you’re safe to bluff away.
Have you ever bluffed your way into getting a date?
Well I suppose seduction is a form of bluffing so yes I suppose so. I haven’t though ever taken it to extremes by pretending to be an astronaut or terminally ill – that would be immoral.
What’s the best lie you ever told?
I’m a terrible liar so I have never come out with anything particularly good. I once pretended that I’d met Mick Hucknall from Simply Red – no idea why. I met him a few years later at a launch party for Mo Mowlam’s autobiography. He’s now a well-respected vineyard owner so I have seen him at some wine events though he never talks to me.
Have you ever committed, or witnessed, a major bluffing fail?
When I was on a Spanish exchange to Madrid in my teens I did claim to be somewhat more sexually experienced than I actually was. They knew I was bluffing from the off and teased me about the rest of the trip.
Henry Jeffreys is currently writing a history of the British Empire told through booze. Head HERE for more details.
Follow Henry on Twitter here!