Ten Things I Know About Wine

Following two weeks of tasting hundreds of wines all day, every day here, my take on the current wine-scape is this:

1. New Zealand Pinot Noir is usually divine.
2. Cheap South African red usually isn’t.
3. Champagne with a bit of age is much more interesting than young stuff.
4. Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua region tastes a bit like chocolate.
5. The Nebbiolo grape (of Barolo fame) is an awkward bugger but I still love it.
6. English wines, especially Sparkling ones, are definitely getting better and will have their moment.
7. Chinese wine is like real wine but spooky, hologram-ish. 
8. Top-end Burgundy is to die for, really.
9. I thought I preferred Old World Sauvignon Blanc to New World Sauvignon Blanc, but I was wrong.
10. Left-field is good: Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Southern Italian reds, undiscovered Languedoc reds…

But my biggest learning of the two weeks? Never going to miss one of the children’s birthdays again. At least not until they ask me not to be there.

Current white on the side:
Tesco Finest Fiano 2008, £5.99, currently on offer at 2 for £10, Tesco
I have tried to wean myself off this stuff as it stops me drinking wines I haven’t tried before but whenever it is on offer I suddenly find myself at the checkout with – whoops – another case of Fiano. This is a brilliant white grape, in this case grown in Sicily and stacked with white peach and layers of citrus fruit flavours, balanced with fresh acidity. Definitely reaches the parts other insipid whites cannot reach. Will do fine without food but it was a gorgeous match with my fishcakes hoofed down earlier this evening. 

Current red on the side:
Castillo el Destaca Crianza 2005, Ribera del Duero, £7.49 if you buy 2 bottles, Majestic
Made from a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache grapes, this is a mouthy little red from the Ribera region in Spain. Overall, Spanish wines are a joy, they taste warm and friendly. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule – old-fashioned Rioja being one – but many of the reds now have softer, more integrated oak flavours. This is one such wine, with a lovely vanilla note (given by ageing in oak) sitting very comfortably with the black cherry fruit flavours.  

Cheers dears x

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  1. Really enjoying your tips. Bought the Tingleup Reisling you suggested – I hadn't tried a reisling for ages but this was gorgeous. Went back to Tesco yesterday to buy the Chablis you recommended too.
    Looks like I need to go again for the Fiano!

  2. I wondered where you'd been! Reading your recommendations makes me want a drink and it's only 12pm
    see you soonx

  3. Must learn how to spell riesling….

  4. Trish – so pleased that you liked the Riesling, love it when that happens! Fiano is really lovely too, sort of Chardonnay-like but more interesting. Let me know what you think x

    Jessie – at least you made it to 12pm…x

  5. Where have you been all my wine-drinking life? Quick… can't stop – must click the 'follow' button!

  6. Interesting stuff….I didn't even know that China made wine!

    Also good to hear that English wines are getting more interesting; it would be nice to have some decent home-grown bubbly.

  7. Tim – found you back! I've been here, glass in hand, hoping a few fellow wine lovers might find me…glad you could make it.

    NVG – the Chinese are making quite a lot of wine, all set to churn it out like coca-cola one day…

  8. Hmm – something suspicious here as Father of Three (ie. me) shares the same diverse wine tastes!

    English sparkling getting much much better, but still relatively expensive for the best qualities…

    I agree that champagne age is so important – and it is interesting to compare cellar bottle age as opposed to post disgorgement age: Bollinger do this so well with their rd (recently disgorged) offerings – and it is fascinating to compare the same bubbly from the same vintage but with different disgorgement dates. I am not sure that "age shall not weary them" applies to post disgorgement champagne all that well!

    Sometimes young and fresh champagnes are also scrummy – try one as a reviver before the bath and bed routine…

    Keep up the great jottings!


  9. One before their bed time is a slippery slope Alastair!

  10. So true, but that is the justification for the freshness and zest of young champagne!

  11. Very curious about the Chinese wine now.

  12. Hello Expat! I know, Chinese wine was surprising, I'd have put it as Australian had I been tasting it blind. It was just a bit, er, hollow. Lovely to have you over x

  13. Ashamed to admit it, but I have never had a Fiano…wish I was home for that Tesco wine festival!

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