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The most common question I receive about wine from a restaurant perspective is which wine would go with which dish, and while restaurant do often choose their wines according to their menu, it's very easy to get too clinical and detailed in the lingo and not focus on the main thing when it comes to wine: what do YOU like?
It's inevitable that what is perfect for one person can be another's least favourite, and personal taste certainly is everything in a wine, so whether you're looking for a wine on the shelves to drink on its own, or whether you're out for dinner at a swanky restaurant and the sommelier comes across and tries to recommend something for you, just make sure you choose something you want to go for as opposed to what everyone else might be having.
Wine is creating by crushing and fermenting grapes, and then storing it under controlled conditions before then presenting it for drinking. The different type of grape determines what type of wine you are having, with an often slight change of flavour depending on where that particular grape is grown. There has been a meteoric rise in modern wine countries (mainly southern hemisphere) joining the traditional wine producers (mainly northern hemisphere), with australian, south african and new zealand wine producers taking traditional grape varieties and growing them on their own soil, often developing a completely new blend of wine and therefore renaming the type of wine.
It's often handy to know what you're looking at though, and while the flavour and fruitiness of a white wine is often what determines choice, it's usually how 'heavy' and full of body a red wine is that decides this choice. Rose is almost always down to personal choice and I find it hard to expand the ranges of this middle blend.
Reds are usually my favourite. I love the Spanish grape Rioja, the heat of Spain allowing fast growing and smooth taste once the grapes are turned into wine. A light Pinot Noir is also a firm favourite of mine. If I'm eating beef then a heavier grape such as an Argentinian Malbec is often a good call, while the even heavier Cabernet Sauvignon (most common and therefore most affordable) is good for most things as long as you're aware that the heaviness of this may overpower some foods. Really with reds it's about how the heaviness affects the balance between wine and food, while drinking it without food goes completely down to personal taste.
Whites rely heavily on flavour and the body isn't such a huge factor. A fruit and flowery Pinot Grigio, for example (as common as Cab Sauv) will accompany most dishes with delicate flavours, while a heavier Sauvignon Blanc (note the Sauvignon grape is the common element in heaviness) would accompany a stronger dish such as pork main dish. Chardonnay is another common variety and is good to drink on its own, while I find that quite a lot of whites go much better if your palate has some food to tickle its taste buds as well. It softens the approach of the wine.
Rose isn't really a wine I'm a fan of. A heavy and dry French Bordeaux Rose can be a treat, although the most common is by far and away a White Zinfandel, and can be a bit sweeter and a lot easier to quaff.
Either way, whichever wine you choose, it's always a good idea to work out which grape you enjoy and have a look for this when you go shopping. If in doubt, ask for some details. Most supermarkets have cards that explain heaviness and taste, and you'll soon get to know which grapes are working with which foods or solo drinking times. As I said, it's nearly always down to personal taste. Restaurants will match what works 9 times out of 10, but if you're the 1 exception, then make sure you go for what you actually want.
As the title says, so dooyoo spit or swallow? Personally I always swallow, I mean whats the point of spitting out something you have paid for. I am of course talking about Wine, and in particular one aspect of Wine tasting. So what is it all about anyway. What makes a good wine? Whats a nose?
General Wine Notes
You might be forgiven for thinking that picking out a wine is something of an art, judging by the ridiculous comments and descriptions spewed out by the wine columnists, or sommeliers in resturaunts. I smell elderflower, raspberries with a floral note, you can really taste the oak. Phwwwarp! What utter nonsense! Sounds great on a TV show, or in clicky wine group circles, buts it's meaningless twoddle to the masses (which we are).
BACK in the real world, the body ( basically the depth of taste), nose (the smell) and even the price, is largely all down to the grapes themselves or rather the variety and cultivation and METHOD over any other factor. Regardless of what the countless books, or "experts" on the telly, will tell you. That is all it is. A Chilean Merlot, is not worlds apart from a Merlot from Bourdeaux, produced in the same style, or one from Romania or from Italy.
One could be a wine snob, and speak of the terroire (where it was produced, in terms of geographical region, soils, weather., etc) and I suppose it is nice to know all those things. However, speaking very broadly, the variety of grape will more or less otherwise dicatate, where or where not, it will grow happily, and yield well enough to produce a decent enough wine in the first place.
Choosing the Wine.
The first port (pardon the pun) of call, is understanding what you actually like. Do you like whites or reds, dry (imagine sucking a lemon) or a sweet wine. A robust red (tangy in your mouth and a long aftertaste) or something lighter and altogether easier to drink. A "drinker" or "drink alone" wine, or something typically consumed with food.
Largley speaking, the dryness depends on how long it was fermented for, and the body of the wine is adjusted for example aging in Oak casks etc. When I later talk and generalise the grapes, I will be speaking of typical use.
Once you know what you like, you can then find something which will fall into that category. To help you here are a few common varieties, and their simplified generalized characteristic.
Cabernet Sauvignon - Quite a heavy wine, can be fruity tasting, but not really something ideal to drink alone because typically its aged in Oak which makes it have a strong aftertaste (body) and a heavy nose (strong smell). Great with food, particularly strong cheeses. Also a variety that often gets blended with other varieties to produce cheaper milder drinkers.
Merlot - In my opinion although relatively heavy, it is great for drinking on its own, and is usually a nice medium dry wine, and very easy to drink. Its very commonly grown (worldwide) probably more-so than any other, and as such is cheaply available. Quality doesn't vary too much, but be wary of anything too cheap.
Pinot Noir - Normally an acidic wine, but can be quite a lighter tasting drinkable variety when enjoyed younger, especially in comparison to something heavy like an oak aged Bourdeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, so its quite drinkable. Is suitable to serve alongside Fish, or Chicken, whereas a heavily aged red would ruin the taste.
To many people however, they enjoy this wine in its aged form, and this is typical for examples from the Burgundy region of France. However, the new world vineyards are producing lighter, more enjoyable wines which I would recommend to try.
Sangiovese - My personal favourite, an old Italian grape of Roman origin, which in my opinion produces some fantastic tasting wines. Although quite hard and acidic sometimes, it is realtively medium dry, and often blended to form the well known Chianti wine! Which up until the last century or so used to be exlsuively made from Sangiovese grapes. Best served with red meats, or strong flavours. In summer can even be served with chopped peaches in a large jug with ice, and drank Sangria style!
Chardonnay - NOO not the daughter of the local Chav, this is actually a well balanced grape, producing some fantastic drink-alone wines. Generally as was the case Cab Sav, this variety is usually oak cask aged, giving it a more earthy note, and sitting it nicely as a medium dry. Also Chardonnay is famous as the grape commonly used for Champagne!
Pinot Grigio - Is probably safe to say a wine best enjoyed with food. It has typically a strong body, with almost a spiced taste to it. Making it ideal to accompany spicy food (not surprisngly). Sometimes this wine is available as a sweeter variety where the fermentation is cut down, thats usually the case with the cheaper bottles you might find.
Riesling - Typically on the sweeter side of the taste spectrum, or available as a sparkling wine. As it has sweeter tones, I would say its best served with pork, or chicken, but probably best drunk as a drink-alone wine.
Sauvignon Blanc - I have found this to be almost always on the side of dry, with quite an acidic taste. You can often hear wine tarts talking about it being like freshly mowed lawns. Unfortunately though, that is quite an accurate description of the smell.
The ROSE VARIETIES,
Strictly speaking, Rose wines are made from the above Red wine grape varieties, even the infamous White Zinfandel, is made from the Zinfandel grape variety, which are reds.
Typically Rose wines, range from dry to medium dry, although the aforementioned White Zinfandel from Californian areas tend to be quite sweet in comparison.
Well I hope this brief insight, helps you unravel some of the subfetuge and nonsense spoken about wine in magazines or on the telly. The most important rule of course is: IF YOU LIKE IT! DRINK IT! Forget about the brand, cost, grape variety or whats-his-name from the telly says, if you find one you like it, enjoy it! An that is the best advice of all!
Generally speaking, I have been told that I am somewhat of an expert when it comes to wine (at least I think thats what wino means.). Having previously reviewed some wines, I thought that it was high time that we went back to basics in order to truly appreciate how the humble grape becomes a fine wine.
Wine is basically an alchoholic beverage made from fermented sugar. Yeah, you heard me right. Wine doesn't even have to have any grapes in it!!! Fans of the Harry Potter books, may have heard of Madame Rosmerta's oak matured mead. Mead is a fine example of this. Mead is a type of wine made from honey. Also, you may have heard an old Uncle, or Grandfather talking of their new season elderberry wine. Well, Guess what thats made from? Yeah, thats right elderberries!!! You see, as all fruit contains some level of natural sugar, it is possible to make a wine out of any of these. Probably the most common type of 'wine' made without grapes is a perry, which is made from pears.
It is, however, the grape that makes both the best wine, and the most wine. There are many different types of grape, and each will make a wine unique. Think about it. If you are someone like me, who sneaks the odd grape when at the supermarket, they can taste dramatically different. So it stands to reason, therefore, that the wines they produce will also differ incredibly. This is in essence, why winemakers need to be so skilled. Wine, you see, can be made from one type of grape, or blended from several types in order to balance out the wine. Think of it like this. When you make some diluted orange juice, it can vary from tasting nearly like water, to being so strong that it tastes fowl depending on how much you put in.
Fermentation. I bet you've all heard of it, yeah? But what is it? ............. No?........... Don't know?.............. Ok, so I'll tell you. At its most basic, fermentation is a chemical process whereby sugar is turned into ethanol (or alchohol as we know it.), by the addition of yeast. Now, some winemakers will add yeast that has been specially selected for the purpose. Others use what is known as natural yeast. This can be spotted on red grapes, as that purple dust on them. That is what turns our little fruit into wine. I call this stuff dust, but the technical term for it is blush, or bloom.
The differences made by the winemaker, during fermentation, or just before, can make huge change to the eventual wine. For example, dessert wines. These are meant to taste sweet. So the winemaker wants to leave a bit of that sugar in, and so, stops the process half way through so as to leave in some residual sugar.
Generally, the grapes are crushed and have the skins and seeds removed. These would have serious impact on the eventual flavour of wine. yeast is added to the grape juice, it breaks down the sugar and converts it to alchohol. Bob's your Uncle, and Fanny's your Aunt, we have a wine!!! There are exceptions to every rule, however, and there is one unique form of fermentation. It is known as carbonic maceration (try saying that after a few glasses!). The main difference here, is that instead of yeast being added to the juice, fermentation is encouraged to take place inside the grapes themselves before they are crushed. The result of this process is generally a fruitier and softer wine.
The taste of the grape, and therefore the wine, varies greatly dependant on climate. Here are some of the main types, and what you might eat when drinking them ...
Barbera - Italian. High acidity, low tannins. Makes light to medium bodied wine, suitable for any food.
Carbernet Sauvignon - Dry, Full bodied. Red meat dishes, pork.
Chardonnay - Full bodied, creamy. Goes great with all seafood, and poultry, salads and light dishes.
chenin blanc - medium, sharp. Again, great for lighter meals. Stick to poultry or pork with this.
Gamay - Light and fruity. Used to make Beaujolais. Light bodied wine, Fruity. Goes with anything!!!
Pinot grigio - Light, sharp, crisp. All seafood, light salads.
Sauvignon Blanc - Full bodied, perfect for all salads, poultry, but also strong enough to be eaten with any game dish. Particularly good with duck.
Syrah/shiraz - Sharp, 'zingy', medium bodied. Steak, lamb, pork dishes. Compliments spicy dishes vey well.
Zinfandel - Light to medium. Soft and very fruity. Perfect for light salads, fish - especially sole.
The list goes on, and there are to many to mention here, but you should now have a grasp on what it is, hown its made, and now you too can wow your friends by choosing a suitable wine for your meal!!!
I am nearly at an end here, and I hope that this has been informative. All that I Want to do now, is leave you with a handy-dandy list of what some of the terms used with wine mean.
To allow a wine to "breathe" by exposing the it to oxygen. Aerating a wine helps it to mellow and develop its full flavors, especially red wines. Decanting is a way to aerate wine.
Harmony among the wine's components - a balance of acid, alcohol, fruit and tannins.
The texture and weight of a wine. The component in wine that gives it body is glycerine.
All the aromas in a wine collectively make up its bouquet.
Usually associated with the acidity in wine and more often with white wine, this denotes a fresh, light character.
One of the more common wine definitions, a dry wine has little or no residual sugar left in it after fermentation.
The process of adding yeast to crushed grapes to turn their sugar into alcohol. Fermentation processes and times vary.
A wine which fills the mouth with flavors and alcohol. A full-bodied wine is also considered "thick".
The mix of crushed grapes, skins and seeds from which red wine is drawn.
One of the more frequently used wine definitions, the nose is simply the smell of wine, as in having a "good nose".
The smell, taste and character of a wine imparted by storage in oak wine barrels. Wines are generally fermenting in oak barrels or stainless steel.
A wine that feels good in the mouth, generally light in tannin and acid.
"Sweet" is one of the wine definitions easily confused with "fruity". Sweet indicates the presence of residual sugar, left over when the grape juice is converted to alcohol. Some dry wines have an aroma of sweetness that in reality comes from ripe fruit flavors.
An ingredient found naturally in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes. Tannins are usually found in red wines and give that dry, lip puckering sensation. Tannins are an important component in red wine and soften with age.
The year the wine is harvested. A wine's vintage will be found on all wine labels
The organism that facilitates the process of fermentation and turns grape juice into alcohol.
So, there it is folks. Enjoy it more, now that you know more about it, and remember to taste it properly. Next time you have a glass, swirl it in the mouth. Then let it pool in the bottom of you mouth, just under your tongue. Breathe over the top of the wine, through your mouth. Then, and only then will you get all these flavours that you here that horrible woman on the telly talking about!!! A lot goes into making that little bottle of plonk that you buy in your local Tesco. Do it justice!!!
I, like most people like a glass of wine. Especially at the end of the week, its nice to relax and chill out.
My favourite wine has to be white, followd by rose and then red. I am not a big fan of red wine, not only does it get me very drunk, very fast but it gives me the most horrible hangover.
Of sparkling or still, I prefer still but I do like the occasional glass of sparkling.
I tend to buy my wine from ASDA, wherre you can get selected wines for 3 bottles for 10 pounds. If I do not visit ASDA I would go to Tesco as they have such a vast selection of wines to choose from.
I love the fact that you can now by small bottles of wine which are the equivilent to a large glass of wine, great for when your drinking on your own and do not want to open a full bottle. These bottles however do seem to cost a little more than others and not all wines come in these small convinient bottles.
The only downside to wine is that you can drink a lot of units in such a small amount of time. Most wines are around 10-12 units per bottle and therefore would take a minimum of 12 hours to get out of your system before driving a vehicle.
I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine and if given the choice I usually opt for a white wine. I certainl do not have a very sophisticated pallet and do not go in for that whole thing of being able to detect the various flavours however I know that I like mostly Australian chardonney as I find it crisp, light and refreshing.
Wine is brewed fro the grape through a process of fermentation and according to the font of all information wikipedia the history of wine stretches back over 8,000 years and the different varieties of wine are derived from the different grapes that are used in the wines production.
Although I like Chardonney my favourite wine at the moment is from the Alsace region and is called Tokay Pinot Gris 2004 athough sadly we are now down to our last bottle in the wine rack. It is a delightful wine that has a mellow taste and is lovely chilled.
At present I'm quaffing a chardonney from Chile called Porta whih has a fruity flavour to it and I reckon in about two more glasses time I will be unable to type, mind you with my spelling who will notice.
Wine is made from the fermentation of grapes in barrels over months or even years. The flavour of wines is determined by the type of grape used as well as the length of time it is left to ferment in. Due to the natural ingredients of grapes, they can ferment without any additional things such as sugar or acids.
Wine is considered a somewhat romantic drink as it is a rather light alcohol that you would have a glass of and red wine is coloured with a gorgeous deep red colour - very romantic. However, you can also get white wine. The difference between these is the type of grape used. You can either use red grapes for red wine or white grapes for white wine (how amazing)! The most common grapes used for red wine are the Pinot Noir variety and the Merlot variety. In white wine, the main grapes used are Chardonnay grapes. Some wines are even made through a cross between two grapes that have grown to give different flavours.
When it comes to wine tasting, there is a certain way to do it. At a restaurant, you should be offered to try a wine before you agree to have it. Once in your glass, give it a little movement from side to side to mix the wine. Judging the colour is also important and can give you an idea of how it tastes. I like to have a good sniff before I drink it. When tasting, I like to fill my mouth with the wine and spread it all over to get a good taste. I drink it slowly and if it tastes nice, I will accept it. Finding good wines is very hard, but the best are said to come from the Bordeaux region in France. As for the countries that produce the most wine; France is obviously out on top with Italy close behind and Spain in third place. Wine is normally pretty cheap to buy in France or Spain from my past experience - you can get a bottle for a couple of euros, which can taste really nice! Here in England, wine can cost a lot of money in comparison and I rarely buy it although it is lovely to have a bottle for when I feel like it.
Personally, I prefer red wine, but many prefer white. It is pretty even on the amount of people I know that prefer red or white wine. I like them both, but it depends on other things. First of all, I judge sweetness. I like rather sweet wines. Sweetness is given by a greater residual of sugar left in the wine after fermentation in relation to acidity. Dry wine also seems to have a low residual sugar left. I hate dry wine as it enters your mouth and seems to get absorbed into your gums before you swallow it and leaves your mouth very dry and with a horrible feeling! I much prefer 'wet' wine, which is much nicer to drink.
Rosé is a kind of wine and probably my favourite. It is usually pink-coloured but can differ. There are different ways in making Rosé, but they are different from making normal wine. One of the ways is to crush red grapes and leave the skins of the grapes in contact with the rest for a few days before continuing with its production. Rosé has a much sweeter taste normally and isn't very dry, so is my favourite.
Overall, wine is great for many occasions. It is lovely to have a glass every now and then and fantastic for romantic occasions. There are loads of different types of wine and some people can be quite picky in what they like. Whether the wine is dry, 'wet', sweet or sour, there are loads of different variations including red and white wine. The typical alcohol in Europe has a variation from 8% to 14% of ethanol in it (alcohol), which is the main constituent of wine during the fermentation. Fortified wine such as Sherry or Port can have a higher percentage of ethanol in it, and is used greatly in deserts. Wine can leave you feeling hot and warm you up, but try not to get too drunk!
Thanks for reading,
- Recon -
I don't know much about the language of wine tasting (henceforth known as 'winespeak'), but I do know that you can get one, or two very drinkable little numbers from Tesco these days. You don't have to spend a fortune either. There are several good red wines available at two ninety-nine and if you are feeling extravagant and want to push the proverbial boat out, you can buy an excellent French Fitou for three ninety-nine (ooh, extravagant). Wine tasting now complete.(Strictly in the interest of writing an opinion for Dooyoo, of course.) Australian Red Wine, as consumed by kangaroos and me, (and you've seen how high they can jump, not to mention what they carry in their pockets),is one of my favourites. This fruity red has a hint of blackberry,plum, and a slightly smokey flavour. It smells of ....pickled onions? Sorry, no, that's the crisps. The aroma is one of over ripe plums. (This is where the winespeak fails me.) The 75cl botttle is 13% by volume which means its quite strong for wine. (22% is a spirit.)This wine is produced in South Eastern Australia where the grapes are trodden by kangaroos. (No, I'm mistaken, that's just the picture on the lable.) This wine is medium bodied and would be a good accompaniment to pasta, pizza or cheese, but I like it slightly chilled which breaks all the rules of 'posh' wine serving. (White wine should be chilled and red served at room temperature.) I remember reading that good red wine should be French but that is an old fashioned view. There are some excellent South African offerings about at present. A red from the Swartland refinery is well within my price range at two ninety-nine (Tesco). It's 13% by volume which means that one 125 ml glass contains 1.6 units of alcohol. It's smooth, medium bodied, and tastes best with food. If you are short of money why not try a medium white wine. Tesco (I don't have share
s, honestly), do a German hock at just 1.87. You can't get much better than that for value. Its 9%, medium sweet, and tastes great on its own or as a spritzer in warm weather (mix with lemonade and a squirt of lemon juice.) So, there's a sample of what you can get for your money. The point I'm trying to make is that you don't have to pay a high price to get a drinkable bottle of wine. You don't have to know 'winespeak' to enjoy what is an everyday drink in countries like France and Italy. No matter what your budget you can find something to suit your tastebuds. Have a look around and you'll be suprised what you can buy for under three pounds a bottle.
Well to be fair I don't know if wine has been my downfall or my saving grace - probably both in different ways at different times. I used to be a strictly stout, beer or spirits only girl but a couple of years ago I was converted to wine drinking at a parental Christmas dinner when I sampled some rather nice ones! "Wine in General" is the category - and that's a very wide category so it is going to be impossible to cover every avenue possible in the category in one relatively short opinion so I'll just put forward a few facts and opinions. First some simple facts - wine is available in white, red and rose (pink) varieties and these days is produced by most countries but more traditionally France, Germany, Italy and Spain seem to be the more prolific and popular. The varieties and brands available seem almost infinite when you look along the supermarket or off-licence shelves so being able to narrow the range down by knowing what type you prefer is a bonus. For a novice it is a very confusing world! Generally you will find it available in standard 75cl bottles though more popular ones are also available in larger bottles and even 3 litre boxes (my preference!). A few are available in small "tester" cans too. Wine is chiefly produced using the relevant variety of grapes from a given region but other fruits are also used - such as lime, lemon and berries - within its production to give it a trademark flavour. White wines are generally termed dry, medium or sweet and many shops and bottles now display a grading between 1 and 9 which indicates its dry/sweetness, number 1 being the driest and 9 being the sweetest. I prefer around the 3/4 grade not liking my wine too dry or too sweet but for someone first trying wine the sweeter ones are often preferred so a grade 5 (such as Liebfraumilch) may be a good starting point. Rose wines are also graded in the same way and are generally a sweeter wine.
Red wines are also graded but they use A to E instead to mark the "fullness" of the wine. I must admit I know relatively little about these preferring white and rose wines myself only to say a good average is a B/C grade to suit an uniniatated palate. Wine prices can vary enormously - the cheapest ones are around the £3 mark for a standard 75cl bottle available in most supermarkets and just because they are comparatively cheap they are by no means always inferior - some of my favourites are within this range. You can save yourself a fair bit of money by opting for a 3 litre boc of wine if it is available and it will last for around 6 weeks once opened. The average price for a decent bottle of white seems to be nearer £6 but the sky's the limit really - wines can be VERY expensive, especially for the connoiseurs who buy specialist or rare wines. As for alcohol content - an average from my two years of trying a wide variety of wines seems to be around 11% volume - drier wines tend to be stronger and make me more prone to the tipsy factor! In pubs wine seems to be given the role of a more "girly" drink though socially we see in restaurants men drinking it too but for some reason it seems to associated more with women's drinking - especially a sweeter white. When you are choosing a wine don't be put off by supermarket or shop own brands - indeed these are some of my favourites. Like many goods they are produced elsewhere for the company so the quality and taste is comparable with any known brands. Now for the more personal stuff! I have tried many wines over the last couple of years - often guided by price or special offers so I am not always inclined to stick to what I know. I prefer a medium white wine or rose and my favourites include White Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose D'Anjou, South African Medium White, Tempranillo (red) and Michelsberg Piesporter - there is a variety
of types in there! Wines go very well with many dishes, on its own as a social drink or an apperitif or as a party drink - it is just a matter of suiting the wine to the occasion. Red wines are often best with heavier dishes including red meats and spicy food. A dry or medium white is a good accompaniment to a chicken, pasta or salad dish or similar lighter meal. Sweeter whites make good party drinks and apperitifs. If in doubt the label on the bottle will often give you a guide to this if you are struggling to make a choice. Personally I think that almost any wine is just fine drunk on its own but I prefer a medium white or Rose! The bad side? Well obviously any excessive alcohol intake has potentially bad health and social implications. Also in my own case I think my new penchant for wine (I drink a few glasses most days now) has exacerbated my large weight gain over the last year or so although I have other medical factors to take into account for that but I am sure it has not helped. All alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar. So, in summary, I think you should enjoy your wine, be bold and experiment with the unknown (a few outlets will refund or exchange wine if you don't like your choice) and enjoy a journey of discovery into the world of wine! :o)
I have got to the stage in my life where going into town for a drink is no longer a pleasure. What is the point of getting all dressed up for an evening on the town, to have to crush into crowded pubs, spend half an hour queuing to get a drink, getting drinks spilled down your back and your outfit ruined by fag burns. Not to mention keeping out the way of flying ashtrays and tables when fights break out, and avoiding all the under age drinkers who seem to have far less sense than we did when we were under age drinkers. By the time you have been round town, gone to a club, got a bit of something to eat and a taxi home that’s £50 easily spent. I have just turned 35 and maybe I am having a mid-life crisis or something, but I would rather stay in with a box of wine and a few friends than face a night on the town. A box of wine can cost as little as £3.99 for a 3 litre box so it makes for a cheap night in. A 3 litre box is the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. Because of the silver bag that the wine is in, it will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks after opening. The silver bag is an amazing piece of equipment once it is empty, especially when you have drunk the whole box of wine. The more drunk you become, the more uses you find for the silver bag. Here are our top ten uses for an empty silver wine bag. (Thought up between four people and two boxes of wine.) 1. Blow it up and it makes a very trendy silver pillow. 2. Blow it up and it makes a good bath pillow. 3. Use instead of a paper bag if someone is hyperventilating. 4. Fill with Helium, stick a transfer of Mickey Mouse on it, add some string and sell on the market for £3. 5. Blow it up and use it as a ring pillow for a wedding. 6. Take one with you on a boat. If the boat sinks you could blow it up and use it as an emergency float. 7. Fill with warm water and use as a hot water bottle. 8. Blow it up and use as party
balloons. 9. Use as a DIY mouth to mouth resuscitation kit. 10. (this one is a little sick and we were very drunk when we thought of it) Add a straw and use it as a DIY colonic irrigation kit. Yuck. I am sure you could probably think up some far better uses and I would also like to say that none of these ideas have been tried and tested. Don’t try to sue me if you try DIY colonic irrigation and it doesn’t work. LOL. Anyway, back to the wine. Good value for money, easy to use box (no hunting for a corkscrew), keeps well in the fridge for up to six weeks (not that I have ever managed to leave any for that long). Definitely a good buy.
... This is what my gran-ma use to say about woolly jumpers and now that is what my husband says about wine... I am jumping from one crafty family straight to another!!! My friend Jen's husband is a very talented home-wine maker (producer?!) and after a few of his special bottles he totally convinced my husband of the benefits of making your own wine. Off he went to buy a couple of demi-johns (big glass container holding about 6 bottles of chosen wine) some bored corks, some concentrated Dry White grapes, Red Wine Grapes and some concentrated Strawberries - for his first time he didn't really feel brave enough to go and pick his own grapes and fruits... but to be honest concentrated is the same as fresh without the messing about. So there we are all involved in that little project and recycling bottles too - it didn't take very long to get 12 bottles! In home wine making the sterilising part is extremely important and he had to make sure that demi-johns, bottles, tubes, corks, air lock, in fact that anything that comes into contact with the 'juice' is spotlessly clean. Then he could get started with mixing fruits, water and fermentating agents. Once that done he had to wait until the bubbles in the bored cork and air lock stopped bubbling as a sign that fermentation was over and done with, then the 'wine' is ready for the clearing agent. Once it is all clear it can be bottled and enjoyed... and enjoyed it was! It is also good fun to make it and watch it develop, giving it a good shake every day, seing it changing colour from very cloudy to clear, just like the 'real' ones! His first ever bottles were dry white wine and the quality was really impressive. He since made some Red Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, that was tops and now he is getting ready to bottle the strawberry wine, we tried it today and I have to say, even though it won't be ready for another few days, it ta
stes really really nice indeed. I love wine, white, red, rose and champagne. But I have to say that there is something really special about drinking something that has been home made and especially when it tastes much better that some wine we sometime gets at pubs or restaurants. Though I was never that enthusiastic about my Gran-ma's home-made woolly jumpers! The starter kit with everything you need to make your first six bottles cost about £12. The concentrate costs from £4 upward (6 bottles), although it is more economic to go with 30 bottle kits - other things that you need that are very cheap are sterilising solution, clearing agent, campden tablets and sugar. You can find all this in Wilkinson, Morrison's supermaket or Home Brewe shops (see yellow pages).
Do you like wine? Where do you buy it? Any good? If you answered 'yes! yes! oh yes!' 'off licence/supermarket' and 'sometimes' (or similar) ...then you need my advice (yes, you do) Why? Because I've been buying top rate wines (better than your average lucky dip supermarket experience) for about a year now - and all at half price. How? Through rigorous scouring of newspapers and supliments. I first bought a case of wine through met wines advertised in the free london paper 'Metro'. It was on offer at half price to first timers - so I received 12 bottles and I think another 3 free, each worth around £7.00. But it averaged out at around £3.00/bottle. Now you'd pay that for a cooking wine, wouldn't you? Next, I spotted an ad in a sunday suppliment with a similar company (sorry - can't remember the company - the wine was that good!) Again, I got better wine than I'd ever drunk before for £3.00/bottle (ish) Lastly, I picked up on a Barclaycard offer - and traded a few points earned, for a half price, Laithwaites case. Fabulous! I have never had such good wine - the quality alone has meant that I've loved every bottle. Before, I was adamant that I only liked Australian Reds and Californian Whites but now I am open to any country for either. You don't know what you like until you've tried it - and what better way than to put your drinking fate in the hands of a company desperate to make a good impression. Every offer I took up was without strings. I can re-order if I choose, but I won't be hunted down and shot if I don't. oh, and I forgot to mention. It's all delivered to your door - so no heavy lifting from the shops. Hurrah! So, the moral of the story is: If you buy wine, scour the papers for offers like these. They're not scams - they
9;re opportunites to find out what you've been missing all these years. And I know how you dooyooers like a bargain. Let me know how you get on.. and yes - I have been drinking!
No really, Jilly Goolden has used all of these to describe wine...bonkers, but anyway, here for all you dooyoo punters is a quick guide to wine and all that it entails. Sit back, and don't expect to get up again too quickly! QUESTION 1 WHAT THE HELL IS WINE ANYWAY?! Well, believe it or not, a lot of people don't know. Wine in it's current manifestation is fermented grape juice, though in the strict sense of the word it doesn't have to be grapes to be wine - in fact there are many foodstuffs that can be fermented into a substance that we'd call 'wine'. A delicious example of this is Mead - which is made with honey. No matter what the original source is though, there must be some form of fermentation - that is, sugar turning to alcohol. That's a simple chemical change that occurs naturally over time with the presence of yeast. The more alcohol that comes from the sugar the more alcoholic the drink, simple as that. Above 16% alcohol the yeast dies - so if a wine is above 16.2% then it is a fortified wine - which means a brandy has been added. This is generally only done to rubbish wines to make the alcohol content higher and market them to the blokes in the gutter at no.22 Trafalgar Road who want to get as rat-assed as possible in the shortest space of time. Not worth drinking if you appreciate your health! So wine as we'll discuss it here is fermented grape juice that has alcohol content of between 6 and 15 percent. QUESTION 2 TELL ME A BIT MORE ABOUT THIS FERMENTATION LARK THEN... Oh, go on then. The crucial thing with wine is the grape. The grape makes the wine what it is...because they are so different in character, so are the wines. We'll come onto the different grapes in a bit, but here is the complete wine-making process. The grapes are grown on the vine until the winemaker thinks it is time to harvest them. This is based on size
and appearance, and also heavily based on the weather forecast (it needs to be good weather to harvest grapes really). The grapes are generally picked by hand, certainly in the case of the French vineyards. Hand picking allows for far more discrimination between good grapes and those that have slight rotting or whatever else. The grapes are placed in a large vat and crushed. Yes, this is often done in France by treading them underfoot...but they do like their Camembert don't they! The skins may or may not be removed, likewise the seeds. This is crucial in terms of the final flavour of the wine - and the length of time that the seeds and skins stay in is called maceration - this can be a few hours or even up to a month. Then all the juice is extracted using either a centrifuge (for mass production of wines like Ernest and Julio Gallo Brothers) or by using a 'bladder press' - a pump that squeezes the grape skins gently over time until there is nay a drop left. Then yeast is added to the juice, and often sulphur dioxide as a disinfectant that can be removed later (however this is one reason why some people are allergic to wine- the sulfites which remain are occasionally allergens). There are many types of yeast for the winemaker to choose from: the most common is Saccharomyces. Another common one is the Brettanomyces strain of yeast. As yeast works, it causes grape juice ("must") to warm up considerably. But if there's too much heat, the yeast is deactivated and won't work. One modern way to deal with this is to put the juice into large stainless steel containers that have refrigeration systems built around the sides. The winemaker can regulate temperature precisely. Other ways of doing this include barrel fermentation (common with French Sauvignon Blanc) which also enhances the oaky flavours of wine which are also aged in oak barrels. Once the fermentation process is done (take a varying length of time
), the wine is ready - aside filtering off the dead yeast and various other substances which collect as a scum on the top. Happy? QUESTION 3 NO. NOW I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THIS BLOODY CHARDONNAY THING IS! OK, here is a quick rundown of the major grapes that you will drink. RED WINE Cabernet Sauvignon A constituent part of Bordeaux from France, this is also the mainstay of many of the classier wines...it has the serious 'connossieur' (aka Snob) touch, despite being a common grape. It has a high level of tannins (the things that help give you a hangover, and yes, the same things that you find in leather!) which means it has a dark, rich flavour that is very sophisticated and often quite hard to drink. Grenache Often used to make Rose, a fairly nondescript grape that is often reminiscent of strawberries. Common regions include Spain (where it is called Garnacha) and France (eg Chateauneuf-du-Pape). Merlot Often a grape that is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in cheaper wines, it has a nice flavour of its own - and is one of the most popular international varieties. Gamay The grape that makes good old Beaujolais...again quite sophisticated, and sometimes blended with a decent Merlot for a good glugging wine. Nebbiolo Often mistaken as Californian, this derives from Northern Italy - Piedmont to be precise. Found often in Barberesco where it is fabulous. Syrah/Shiraz One and the same grape (the second name is what the Aussies call it), this is one of my favourites. Deep coloured tannic reds that are gutsy and really grab you by the balls and don't let go...fabulous wines. Pinot Noir The only grape in the famous French Red Burgundy appellations of the Cotes de Beaune, Cotes de Nuit and many other mid to southern regions of France. Light in colour, but not in taste where they are deep and subtle. Zinfandel A Californian ma
instay, this is a deeply fruity red that really 'zings'! The older the vines the better. A good picnic or barbecue wine this one, delicious and simple. WHITE WINE GRAPES Chardonnay The standard - everyone's drunk it. A good chardonnay should be buttery and yet tangy with a certain spiciness to it. Delicious but can get a little dull. Best regions are New Zealand and Chile in my opinion, but it's made everywhere and is lovely most of the time. Chenin Blanc The grape planted most in the French Loire valley. In the USA, it is often used to make a light, fruity wine with unassuming ang simple characteristics - again good for barbecues. Sauvignon Blanc Has a very 'grassy' or 'herby' characteristic according to those in the know...very tangy white grape, often very gutsy too. Best ones come from France where it is used in the sweet wine Sauternes but also on it's own as a great out of doors drinking experience. Riesling A very common German variety, this is often a sweet wine like a Spatlese but can be drier. One thing, people will often say this aftertastes a little like petrol fumes. That's because it often does! Gewurztrauminer pronounced - Geh-verts-t(e)row-meen-er, OK?! The standard German variety, wurz actually means 'aromatic' - it tends to be quite a gutsy wine, but with a lot of flavour and nose. Semillon Another major Bordeaux variety, this is more and more common - often blended indeed - it has a pleasant flavour of herbs but can be a dry or a sweet wine at the end. Er...enough grapes (that's all I can remember!) AND FINAL QUESTION WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO BUY? THERE'S THOUSANDS OF THE BUGGERS! HEEEELLLPPPP!!!! Ok, deep breath...in.....and out....aaaannddd relax. Better? The simple way is to ask yourself what you want it for...is it to get rat-assed in a gutter
(in which case Vodka will probably do the trick), is it for drinking by itself, or is it with food. At the end of the day it will come down to taste...which is why I only recommend one wine at the end which I particularly adore (so much so I bought three cases of it!). The basic rules (which can be broken but are worth sticking to until you know a bit more about the flavours) are with a strong dish you need something strong to stand up...with a sweet dish you need something sweet or a champagne, and with fish you ALWAYS drink white wine unless you want Mr Bond to kill you and pinch that decoding machine (a prize of a opinion read or two to anyone who knows what I'm on about here!) With chicken which isn't too spicy, a good choice is a chardonnay...or even a sauvignon blanc...as with fish. If it's spicy, go for a gewurztrauminer or something gutsy that won't be obliterated by the food. If there is a wine in the cooking, stick to the same colour or the flavours will simply attack each other and not get on. With red meats, red wine tends to go nicely - beef loves a good merlot, lamb is fab with a shiraz, but the only true way to find out is to experiment. If you really need a book, I would recommend Oz Clarke's pocket wine guide which is comprehensive and also very accurate...plus the fact that his palate is for young wines rather than old, which is always so much better than the wine snobs who will not drink anything but vintage Bordeaux... Without food, then just about anything is great (aside a very sweet wine which won't be nice on it's own.) And on, lastly to my favourite and least favourite wine which I will now wax lyrical about, or insult the hell out of depending. Aussie Shiraz is always good, but one particular wine is by Tim Adams - the 1998 Shiraz. It costs about £6 in Tesco, but is absolutely amazing, I mean FABULOUSLY WONDERFULLY ORGASMICALLY GORGEOUS...PLEASE go a
nd try it, your taste buds will love you for the rest of your life! It is fruity, strong, has one heck of a punch, a wonderful aftertaste, and is incredibly drinkable. Even better is the Aberfeldy Shiraz, but I've only ever had one bottle of that and it cost £40 so I wouldn't worry (it never made it to this country alas as they only make about 400 bottles a year)... And the dunce's cap goes to - Asti Spumanti. Spewmanti more like... Foul, sickly sweet stuff - Coca-Cola in a wine bottle! Oh and lastly - should you ever overdo it - here's how to lose a wine hangover... For white wines, use Alka Setzer XS in water with a glass of orange juice as well...and for red wines use a panadol tablet with a glass of cold milk. Don't ask me why they work, but they do...promise! DRINK!
Unfortunatly Hungary gets very little press for there wine producing. This must stop, if you like German wines or Alsace I would heartily recommend you give Hungary a bash. Hungary was once only famous for Tokaji but now Hungary's table wines are bordering on the quality of the french. All the famous grapes are now being cultivated and the country is now producing very pleasing Chardonnays, Pinot Blancs and Gerwurztraminer. Price comparisons with there competitors show that You can buy a good quality Hungarian wine for less than the price of your usual French or German wines. This in itself is a good reason to try Hungary, but why not make a change anyway. There are many good wine producing countries that people just overlook. Trust me the smaller wine producers make wine of similar quality, and some take more care when doing so.
Know much about wines in general? If so share your knowledge with other users here. Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they ferment completely without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Although other fruits like apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant wines are normally named after the fruit (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically known as fruit or country wine. Others, such as barley wine and rice wine (e.g. sake) are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these cases, the use of the term wine is a reference to the higher alcohol content, rather than production process. The commercial use of the English word wine (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.