|Pre-wine tasting egg & bacon
breakfast (not incl. wine)
I’ve spent the last couple of days at The Oval, but I’m not there for the cricket. (I once asked Andrew Strauss if he was following The Ashes, not realising he was the England captain at the time but that’s another story). As ever, I’m there for the wine. Specifically, judging the latest round of the International Wine Challenge: two hundred wines in two days, all tasted blind (the bottles are concealed in bags) and judged on quality alone by wine experts from all over the world. It’s the most fantastic snapshot of what’s hot – and what’s not. Here’s what I’ve found:
1. A taste of pink champagne is not a bad way to start the day, even if you do have to spit it out.
2. Barbera d’Asti, the sprightly, juicy red from northern Italy, is having a moment.
3. Muscadet Sur Lie might not be fashionable, but the good ones are fabulous.
4. Argentinian Malbec is a good bet when faced with a wine list full of unfamiliar wines.
5. If anyone offers to buy you a bottle of 2009 vintage port, say yes.
6. The colour of red wine made from the Spanish Graciano grape would make a brilliant nail varnish.
7. Australian Chardonnays are so much more fun to drink than they used to be.
8. Cheap South African reds, however, still not so much.
9. Next time you want to try an unusual Sparkling, ask for a Brazilian. No longer a hairy experience.
Current white in the fridge: Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2014, £5.99 on offer, Waitrose
The Spiky Pig (as it’s known around here, thanks to the label) is on offer, so boots have been filled. Made by a winery with a really long name – Boekenhoutskloof – this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes sourced from across the Western Cape in South Africa. All gooseberries and tropical fruit flavours, there’s something about it that makes it stand out from the crowded shelves of Sauvignon (not just because of the label). It’s just-right juicy and fresh. Pour, sit, relax.
Current red in the rack: Taste The Difference Sierra de Andia Navarra 2012, £7.25, Sainsbury’s
A Spanish red blend from Navarra, a region not far from Rioja, made from the Garnacha (that’s Grenache) and Tempranillo grapes – along with some Graciano. You know, the one that would make a gorgeous nail varnish colour. And this one tastes of blueberries, blackberries and spice. Not nail varnish, happily. Completely delicious, especially when sipped in front of the fire with Masterchef: The Professionals on the telly, having devoured leftover lasagne.
Peace out, winos x