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Archive for the ‘9 A Love of Wine & Cheese’ Category

Summer is special for us all. For some it’s the outdoor life, for others it’s the Tour de France, but for wine lovers there’s the publication of the Decanter World Wine Awards! 275 international judges taste 17,000 wines blind and make their awards accordingly. Almost all the wines are available to us, either online or in the shops. If you subscribe to Decanter (“the world’s best wine magazine”) you get the printed report free. If you don’t you can view it free online at awards.decanter.com. Never again need you be disconcerted by the huge array of wines offered to you in a supermarket, a wine merchant or online. (more…)

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I’ve been chuntering on in this column for years about how important it is to think about the wine you are drinking, either putting into words how it tastes or thinking about where it comes from and how it’s made. Otherwise you are just knocking it back, maybe enjoying it, maybe not, without learning anything that can inform your enjoyment of the next bottle you open. (more…)

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I have a friend who says he won’t pay more than £6 for a bottle of wine. I tell him he’s barmy. Wine making is a slow, difficult, and expensive business. It’s true that wine does come cheaper than £6 but it’s an industrial product, without individuality or character. If you do find one with flavour it’s probably come from oak chippings suspended in the wine like teabags. But, my friend persists, what’s so expensive about making wine? (more…)

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What sort of an answer do you expect when you taste an interesting wine and you ask where it’s from? Do you hope to be told it’s from a little village nestling in the foothills of the Cevennes, just an hour’s drive from the Med? Or would it be more useful to be told, “Waitrose”? The best answer would include both pieces of information, but supermarkets can make that difficult. Some of their best value wines are their own brands, but it can be hard to find out where the wine is actually from. (more…)

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Will be all be drinking Australian wine? 

While we remain in the EU customs union, European wine is sold in the UK without paying import duty. If we leave the customs union, duty will be payable; how much depends on the deal agreed between the EU and the UK. At the present rate of progress, there seems a good chance that no such a deal will be agreed, so if we leave the customs union we would revert to World Trade Organisation tariffs, currently 32%. Combine that with the predicted fall in the value of the pound and we may find ourselves paying half as much again for European wines as we do now. (more…)

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Port

I don’t know how it got there, but two weeks ago I found a bottle of port at the back of my drinks cupboard. It was labelled Cockburn’s Vintage Port 1983. I took it round to share with friends. It was a job to open. The cork was sealed with wax that I had to prise off with a knife; the cork broke as I pulled and the bottom end (port corks are longer than those of any other wine) went into the bottle. But filtering it through some kitchen paper into a decanter revealed the port to be a rich brown colour. It filled the kitchen with its smell. It tasted divine – old leathery fruit of incredible power. We drank it with the cheese, we drank it with the desert, we finished it off after the coffee. (more…)

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It’s not something a winemaker can put on a label. The word Bordeaux can only be used for wine made in a certain way, to a certain standard, from grapes grown in Bordeaux, France (as opposed to Bordeaux, Wyoming). But wine writers and wine sellers use the term all the time. It’s not just Bordeaux, of course, they talk about Burgundy-style, Beaujolais-style, even New Zealand Sauvignon-style. The French, of course, say it’s nonsense, that the wines of Bordeaux are unique and that a wine is either a Bordeaux or not, and any wine from elsewhere, even if made with the same grape varieties using the same methods of viniculture, will taste so different that it should be called something different. I have a lot of sympathy with the French view. (more…)

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