Wine Connoisseur Crash Course from Brancott Estate
Any sartorial male worth his salt – and his suit! – should know a lot about wine… right?
Well it has been a man fantasy of mine at least.
Standing there once at a charity do, I was rocking the KG shoes and suave attire but at the bar I was lost like a little kid. Enophiles left and right were stunning the on-looking femmes, who were throwing sexy eyes at any mention of a crisp Sauv Blanc or robust Spanish Rioja.
I like to think I know my beers, bourbons and vodkas because (unfortunately) a not-so-long-ago stint at Uni has left me a specialist of nothing more than heart-attack-inducing Vodbulls and chunder-imminent lager-bourbon chasers…
Wine… Is that our seminar tutor tomorrow?
OK so maybe I’m not that uncultured – I do know a little about wine.
My six-year stint as an Italian sous-chef had me tasting any reds and whites that dripped, dropped and glugged into a pan (for fuel, not for taste!) and our resident sommelier had departed a few words of wisdom, but I just couldn’t get it to stick or sound expert enough…
To blag it as a graduate high-flyer, you’ve got to know your plonk you plonker!
So What I need is a cheat-sheet – a dummies-guide du vin – a blagger’s book of phrases.
Fortunately, wine specialist Brancott Estate was willing enough to take me through it all. Brancott has just launched a premium bespoke accessories collection perfect for budding wine connoisseurs. The 100% sterling silver range, which includes of a pair of classy chic men’s cufflinks, have been designed to reflect the natural beauty of New Zealand’s landscape and celebrate the pioneering spirit of Brancott Estate, the creators of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine.
But with those cufflinks, you’re going to need some knowledge so they talked me through some basics…
“Did you know that you can serve white wine over chilled?” they told me. “A wine served too cold can lose a lot of its character, particularly with respect to aroma. White wines are best served at around 8ºC so an hour in the fridge door will be plenty! The old myth that reds should be served at room temperature isn’t entirely correct; reds are at their most expressive and best served at around 15ºC.”
When serving wine before dinner, I am told to “start with something light and fresh. It shouldn’t be too serious or overpowering as your aim is to enliven their palates not overwhelm them! You want a drink you can sip easily whilst catching up. For a white wine I would recommend a fruity Sauvignon Blanc and for a red a subtle Pinot Noir.”
As blokes we love a bit of the red meat. But “if your having the lads around for a steak evening how about swapping beer for a serious red wine which will stand up to and compliment the meat. It’s true to say that a glass of Malbec with a good steak, prepared simply, with nothing more than salt as a seasoning, is one of the world’s great food and wine matches.”
“When it comes to celebrating anything with bubbles should be served in long-stemmed flute or tulip shaped glass. These are designed to enhance the flow of bubbles and to concentrate the aromas of the wine. If you want to take it one step further a crystal flute is best as the rougher glass causes the Champagne to bubble and fizz more. Not only do the extra bubbles look great they release more of the Champagne’s flavours.”
The folks at Brancott Estate were kind enough to let me loose on some of their own specialty wines. With wine in mind, I set about applying my skills to some tasting and dinner-matching…
A Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from New Zealand (still a baby in the wine business) was crisp, sharp but punchy. I would recommend sipping a glass before a meal where citrus, grapefruit and tropical fruits play lightly on the palette. Nothing too overwhelming save for the smell, which doesn’t offend. At £8.99 a bottle, it’s a delightful and delectable little starter wine.
The Jacob’s Creek Regional Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2007 was definitely a main-course wine. From Australia – a king of the vineyard industry – there were essences of plum in this full-bodied and powerful spicy number. Would work with braised lamb shank or a seared red-eye steak.