Tag Archives: Food and Wine

Wine Tasting Tweetup

Say that three times fast! Well, it’s almost been a week and I’ve finally collated all the information that Simon Tyrrell provided. I’ll leave out a lot of the bits about what the vineyards look like so that you can view them for yourselves!

I suppose I should start from the beginning. At the end of July a good friend of mine, @nmcgivney gave me the idea of doing a tweetup including wine. A tweetup is when twitter users get together to socialise and chat. Seems ironic, but honestly it’s great to actually meet the people you’re exchanging tweets with! Either way, I contacted Emma Tyrrell from @the_WineStore (specialising in Rhone Valley wines)  to see if she would be interested in hosting such an evening. In just a few weeks with the help of @ElyWineBars and @IBrosnan (Ian Brosnan is the Wine manager at Ely) we were upon a very special evening. This was the first evening of its kind and I think we were all kind of wondering what was going to happen!

The deal: Wine tasting with 5 wines and a few bits of bread. A wonderfully in-depth talk from Emma’s other half, Simon and a main course with 2 glasses of wine for just 30 euro.

The wine:
Ventoux ‘Persia 2010, Domain de Fondreche
A wine from the Southern Rhone region, vines in limestone and clay, this wine had medium body and was medium-high in alcohol. Flavours from this wine were honey, stone and salty. The wine smelled as it tasted and though salty seems like a strange smell, it did come through on the palate. Only 10% Viognier, the wine was crisp and delicious.

Viognier de Rosine 2010, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine M. et S. Ogier d’Ampuis
Viognier is one of my favourite varieties of wine. It always has so much to offer and is loved by so many. This winery begun in the West Rhone region. Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes means ‘Country Wine from the Rhone Hills.’ The wine has low acidity and medium body with flavours of apricot and fruit. Interestingly enough the wine-makers keep 1/3 of the wine in a tank and 2/3 in barrels. When brought back together, the wine’s characteristics shine through.   We were also able to try the 2007 vintage as well and found it to be too oxidized, lighter and the alcohol stuck out a little too much. White wine doesn’t age too well and we found that was the case here.

Syrah ‘L’Ame Soeur’ 2007, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine M. et S. Ogier d’Ampuis
‘L’Ame Soeur’ or ‘Kindred Spirit’ was probably my favorite. Aged 18 months, this wine from the Southwest side strictly slate and rock, was almost like a Cabernet Franc. The tastes on the palate were black pepper and black currant. There was smoke and less fruit on the nose. The skin of the grape holds the tannin and here the skins were macerated more to release more tannin. This Syrah was so drinkable I wish I had it all to myself!

Chateauneuf du Pape 2008, Clos des Papes
We all recognise this name, but do we all know the background? Simon told us that when the French pope came to be, he decided he wanted to move the Vatican to a new site in France. Now Chateauneuf is the 3rd largest produced wine in France, but you should really know the producer or you could end up with a bad wine. Chateauneuf uses 13 varietals of which 5 are white. Not all varietals need to be used in making of the wine, but there does have to be a minimum amount of Grenache used.  This wine had lower tannin, lower acidity and was higher in alcohol. The nose smelled of bright fruit and Indian spice (that came from Simon and he hit that smell right on the nose.. ba da chi!) The palate was raisin, dark fruit, black cherry and plum and incidentally enough… Indian spice. Aged in oak casks for 18-24 months, the wine was very nice and round. These wines can be expensive so know what you buying!

Wine with dinner:
Vacqueyras ‘Un Sang Blanc’ 2006, Domaine le Sang des Cailloux
Flavours: Peach, vanilla and honey. The wine was light and refreshing and went very well with my main course of chicken thigh with potatoes and green beans in a creamy olive sauce. Lots of flavour and acidity from the wine went together nicely.

Crozes-Hermitage ‘Equisse’ 2010, Domaine des Hauts Chassis
Flavours: Dark fruit, vanilla, pepper, soil, smoke. The wine was bright and full of dark fruit with low acidity and low alcohol. Very easy to drink 🙂

Too give you an idea of the locations…
South in Green from what we tasted: Vacqueyras, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Ventoux
North in orange/red: Crozes-Hermitage, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes

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The Only Way to Screw Up a Wine Pairing…

… is to forget the wine.

I came across this article on Food & Wine and I think it’s a really good one, as most F&W articles are.  It is important to follow these 5 things that could potentially hurt your pairing in the end.  I have always based pairings on contrasted flavors and they have always been great! However, many people would disagree that that’s a good way to pair.  In the end, it’s all about what you think and how you feel, you will be eating the meal, not that expert out there.  And as you can see on number 5, most of the time if you’ve got good food and good wine, you can’t lose.  One thing to remember: Fats cut tannin – grilled meats cut reds full of tannin to soften taste and flavor.  Acidity cuts richness – light whites cut dishes accompanied by rich sauces (beurre blanc and alfredo) for example.

Regardless, wine and dine and all will be fine! 🙂  Enjoy your next dinner party and one last tip – just relax.  And pour with a heavier hand!!

The article is found here: http://www.crossingitaly.net/travel/wp-content/uploads/vineyards.jpg

I’ve recopied it for you here, for your convenience.
5 Ways To Screw Up a Wine Pairing

BY RAY ISLE, EXECUTIVE WINE EDITOR

In the August issue, executive wine editor Ray Isle names the best summer value wines. Here, he explains how you can do wrong by those fantastic bottles in a new series called What Not to Do.

© Courtesy of Sean Minor Wines.
2010 Sean Minor Four Bears Vin Gris

1. Artichokes.
Artichokes hate wine. They grow on their little stalks thinking, “I hate wine. Ooh, I hate it. I’m gonna grow here for a while, then I’m gonna go mess up some wine.” The reason they do that is that artichokes have a compound called cynarin in them that basically makes wine taste awful. If you’re dead set on eating artichokes and drinking wine with them, the best option is a light-bodied, unoaked white wine like a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. But you’d be best off with beer: a nice brown ale ought to work just fine.2. Serve your wine too warm (if it’s red) or too cold (if it’s white).
Warm red wine tastes alcoholic and flabby. Serve reds a little below room temperature and they’re not only more pleasant to drink, but they taste better with food (throw them in the fridge for 30 minutes before you pour them). Icy cold whites don’t taste like anything, so pull them out of the fridge a few minutes before serving.

3. Try to make two stars share the table.
This doesn’t work in Hollywood, and it doesn’t work at your house, either. If you have a truly extraordinary wine to pour, serve it with a simple dish. If you’re spending 15 hours trying to re-create one of Thomas Keller‘s intricate recipes fromThe French Laundry Cookbook, pour something good—but not equally spectacular.

4. Serve oily fish with tannic red wine.
Fish oils react harshly with tannins, so don’t, for instance, serve mackerel with Cabernet—unless you like the taste you get from licking a roll of pennies. With oily fish, skip the reds entirely and go white. Any of the crisp, minerally seaside wines: Albarino from Spain, Vermentino from Italy, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Pacific coast. All of those are good options.

5. Overthink the whole thing.
Really. This is the biggest way to screw up a wine pairing, not because the wine and food will taste bad together, but because you’ll turn yourself into a neurotic mess who makes Woody Allen seem like a Zen buddhist. Most wines can happily live alongside most foods, in a kind of neutral you-go-your-way-and-I’ll-go-mine state. Just stay away from those artichokes.

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You Had Me At Merlot

Well… that’s not entirely true.  I wish I could label myself as a true badass of wine.  “Um, yes madam, what you are tasting is a light oak flavor with a hint of permanent marker.  Is that a bit of grass I detect, oh how delightful.” I am an amateur and I will be the first to admit it.  Wine is like a woman from the 1800s – vastly undiscovered.    You could learn about 10 new varietals and not even see her ankle… scandalous.  There is just no way to try everything, but we do our damn best! 🙂

And here comes the history, semi short and all but sweet. When I was about 11 years old I saw some red wine in my parent’s fridge and figured I’d give it a try.  It looked like grape juice and I had heard about how, ‘like totally grown-up it made people’ and was beyond curious.  This can’t be much different than communion wine I thought and that stuff is awesome!! If you haven’t ever heard this phrase before I suppose it’s time you did, wine is an acquired taste and seeing as I hadn’t even hit puberty yet, I think it’s safe to say I certainly hadn’t acquired anything.

As you can guess, I began to enjoy it… even love it.  Starting with my mother’s Prosecco, which is still my favorite sparkling wine.  I progressed through the Rieslings, the Pinot Grigios, and the Chardonnays.  I must say it took me a while to jump to reds, but a couple bottles of forced 2 Buck Chuck and I was hooked. Up and up I went until I hit Malbecs, Sangiovese and the ever-beloved Zinfandels. Needless to say, I took a sip and my mind was blown and as I weaved in and out of consciousness, I was like the mouse from Ratatouille when he mixed cheese and fruit together for the first time. Life is just better with a glass of pure sexiness.

I started officially (ahem) wine tasting at 21 and I haven’t stopped since.  Does that make me an expert? Hell to the no. All I’m hoping to do is taste wine, describe it as best as I can and help make your life just a little bit more pleasurable.

With this blog I want you to experience wine for yourself.  The hardest part in our busy lives is finding new wines that we like.  Where do we go? How do you know if it’s good? How do you not spend your child’s tuition money on a single bottle? Wine is made for one purpose, pleasure… technically speaking pleasure and money…. well pleasure, money and because, really, what else are they going to do with all those grapes.  Do they have uncrustables in France? I cringe at the thought.

It’s time to enjoy the simple things in life.  If you can’t have the perfect job, the perfect lover, the perfect yard or the perfect life… you can have the perfect bottle of wine to make it all suck just a little bit less.  Good wine, good food and great conversation is all you will ever need. Let’s get started.

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