Earlier this year, we ran a competition in which we asked old members to compare their colleges to fine wines. Here are some of our favourites responses.
If my college, St John's, were a wine, it would be an 1872 Madeira, because this was served at a dinner in 1962 for College sportsmen by the Laudian Professor of Arabic. Pearls before swine, you might think, but Freddy Beeston was a special, old-fashioned sort of don, and one of only two in the University sporting shoulder-length hair (the other was Russell Meiggs of Balliol).
Freddy and the Madeira shared several characteristics: depth (his basso profundo voice), colour (deep purple when laughing), smoky overtones (incessant cigarettes in his case), complexity (a tendency to quote Avicenna) and smoothness.
Peter McManus (St John's College, 1959)
If my college – Univ – were a wine.
It would have to be both rare and fine;
Choice of many ministers of state –
It would have to be uniquely great,
High on intellectual appeal,
Capable of ageing a great deal;
Favourite of peerless Harry Waugh –
It must be the '45 Latour.
Colin Akers (University College, 1952)
If my college, Trinity, was a wine, it would be Château La Conseillante, because it is a blend of three grapes, the crème de la crème (Berry Bros), gorgeous and complex (Robert Parker), and situated between the White Horse (Cheval Blanc) and Balliol (Petit-Village).
Charles Arnold (Trinity College)
If my college, Brasenose, was a wine, it would be a Pauillac, because it is centred in an academically world famous region, producing a premium assemblage of cultivated personalities. Perhaps too earthy in earlier vintages with excessive sweat and leather on the nose, recent vintages have been more supple, displaying less masculinity, more full bodied femininity, and a fragrant nose with characteristic metallic undertones. Prone to talk noble rot and often fined, its undergraduates are worth laying down--and mature into distinguished citizens. The '88 vintage, considered a premier cru bourgeois, has an uncharacteristically liberal blend and may lack longevity.
David Pusinelli (Brasenose College, 1974)
If my college, Saint Cross, was a wine, it would be Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1965, because of the Saint Cross tradition of assembling a student body rich in elegance, power, balance, rigorous thinking, esteemed content of character, intense focus and intuition, and a diverse yet beau-monde typicity. 1965 is also the year Saint Cross was founded.
Gregory G. Serevetas (St Cross, 2003)
Image by Alex Akopyan uncer Creative Commons license