I’ve decided this blog should probably be re-named ‘food and drink for thought’ because after a fairly long hiatus I have come back to it with a whole lot more experience of the world of alcohol and wine in particular (although food is still my first love). Having been on The Grocer for just over a year, I have the excuse of being in a very busy job, for which I’m often out in the evenings (tough, I know), but the blog is a fun and worthwhile thing to do – so I’m back. Properly. And having dusted down my blog account, or so it feels, and put up a new picture I’m ready to go.
The new picture, by the way, is of Castel Boglione, prime vineyard belonging to Araldica – a big Italian wine co-operative in Piedmont. The reason it’s up is partly because my stay there earlier this year is a very nice memory and partly because I came across the very same Gavi made there again last week at the Sainsbury’s autumn and winter wine tasting. There on a table in good-old Southwark sat a bottle of the stuff alongside a smiling picture of Claudio – the head winemaker at Araldica. It tasted as good as I remember – refreshing with a high acidity and fruitiness. Good with fish. Made from native Cortese grapes.
How this links with the title of my post is quite simple. My little trip to Piedmont has all been part of an education in wine that started last September (09) with my first wine tasting, through to a WSET course, a few other trips and a lot more tasting. Even still, I feel there is so much to learn and just not enough time. The world of wine is intimidating to so many people, yet they do want to understand – how to make that happen is the holy grail of most drinks companies. So it was that I found myself this time last week in a room full of people at The Brunswick Gallery near Russell Square watching a poor beleaguered Master of Wine (they’re quite rare and very knowledgeable) trying to explain to us the vagaries and nuances of the Champagne in our glasses.
I was surrounded by men and women in cloaks, girls with neon lipstick and bright blonde wigs, a couple of young actors wrapped in what looked to me like silage wrap along with some lumps of clay, oh, and there were a few crows flying round. It was most definitely a bizarre evening and everyone had paid around £75 each to be there. It may not sound like one, but the event was in fact a Champagne tasting and the room was full of people keen to learn more. The awful thing though was that our Master of Wine (we’ll say MW) was drowned out by a wall of chatter, which very quickly began once he started talking.
There were about 150 of us in the room gradually downing more and more Champagne, plus it was post-work and people were clearly catching up. So, all respect to him as it was a tough job, but where I think he went wrong was in trying to talk about the way Champagne is made without first talking about the taste of each sample. I think if he had talked about the flavours we were experiencing as part of the tasting; the grape varieties and given us comparisons to other types of wine and food he’d have stood a better chance. For me, learning about varieties has been key. Then you start comparing styles of those grape varieties from different regions and countries and it all starts to open up.
Other people may not agree with that, but here’s two bits of advice from other much more seasoned wine drinkers: You’ll only learn more if you taste taste taste as much as possible, and secondly, don’t let anyone elses snobbery put you off a wine, if you enjoy it and like the flavour that’s all you need to worry about.