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What to cook with your Grüner Veltliner
In our email this week, Megan from our Online Department picked the Grüner Veltliner from Ebner-Ebenauer as her wine of the week. As you might expect, Grüner Veltliner works very well with many Austrian classics. Its crisp acidity makes it a refreshing accompaniment to anything coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Wiener Schnitzel or Backhendl (Viennese fried chicken) would be appropriate. Tafelspitz is the Viennese version of boiled beef and is always served with a glass of Grüner. Take a piece of topside and gently simmer (not boil) it in water with roughly chopped root vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. When it is soft (two to three hours) the most trying stage arrives, so for reassurance I quote Édouard de Pomiane: "Lift the beef from the saucepan and remove the string. The meat is grey outside and not very appetising. At this moment you may feel a little depressed." The key to overcoming this psychological barrier is to discard the vegetables and replace the meat. Overnight it will absorb some of the liquid and become more flavoursome, while you simultaneously recover your appetite for it. Reheat it gently and serve it sliced, with the juice poured over, apple and horseradish grated in equal amounts, rosti potatoes, creamed spinach and a sauce of egg yolk and oil flavoured with chopped chives. Alternatively, if you've just got in from work and don't have time for all that, the full, fresh flavour and peppery edge of this wine also go brilliantly with Kedgeree.
How to taste wine
Our first Introduction to Quality Wine tasting of 2016 was last night, and with the new year came a new guide to the tasting, full of useful information for those just starting out in wine. If you're thinking of coming along to a future date, or if you're just looking for some guidance on how to taste wine, here's an extract you may find useful. A very brief guide to wine tasting Tasting wine is easy. All you need is to concentrate and use all your senses. Look at the colour, swirl the wine in the glass and inhale the aroma, then taste it carefully. Colour Red wine fades from purple to tawny with age, while white wine darkens. Aroma & Flavour Sometimes it's helpful to compare the aroma and flavour of a wine with other things you are familiar with - lemons, apples, game, earth, pepper, for example. With practice, you’ll learn what ‘Pinot Noir’ or ‘Bordeaux’ taste like on their own terms and be able to contrast different examples. Taste & mouthfeel As well as thinking about the flavour, when you taste a wine think about these basic elements and how prominent each of them is: Sweetnesss - Can you taste sugar or is it dry? Acidity - Does it taste crisp and fresh? Does it make your mouth water? Alcohol - Does it taste or feel ‘hot’? Tannin - If it’s a red wine, can you feel mouth-drying, grainy tannins? Balance & body Are the basic elements in harmony? For example, if there is sweetness, is it cloying, or is it matched by a refreshing acidity? This is balance. If a wine is powerful, with lots of alcohol and flavour, it’s full-bodied. If it’s delicate, it’s light-bodied. Your opinion If you don’t like something, try to be objective. Is it a good wine anyway? Judge each wine by the standards it aspires to. A £10 Beaujolais will not be as grand a wine as a £100 Burgundy, but either can be good, bad or sensational in its own way.
Making the most of the new drinking guidelines
When I heard that the government were revising their recommended drinking limits, my first thought was, ‘At last! They’ve been far too low for far too long.’ But before I could crack open a celebtatory magnum of gin, it became clear that, on the contrary, they were proposing to lower them. The last set of guidelines were published in 1995, when I was fourteen. Naturally, along with the rest of you, I immediately embarked upon a regime of consuming alcohol at a rate of four units per day, just to be on the safe side. Now, twenty years later, I discover that not only will I have to cut that back to two units, but all this time I have been unwittingly drinking double the maximum. On reading this news, I immediately began to feel unwell. Visions of some of my more debauched evenings rose in vivid, ghastly detail before me. Why? Why? Why had I drunk that third small glass of wine on my 21st birthday? But that wasn’t the worst of it. Not only had the weekly limit been reduced, but a handy loophole - wherein you could store up your daily allowance for special occasions - had been closed. Apparently, the government had discovered that heavy drinking sessions increase the risk of accidents and injury, and, frankly, they didn’t much like it. Although the advised limit is now seven small (175ml) glasses of weak (11.5%) wine every seven days, the guidelines are at pains to emphasise how generous that allowance is, because actually 'there is no safe limit'. In other words, if you absolutely insist on doing yourself in with a daily schooner of underripe Riesling, don’t say we didn’t warn you when you’re discovered drowned at the age of 35, face down in a bowl of punch in the corner of Trader Vic’s. I must say, I found that thought quite alarming, until I read the details of how the limit was arrived at over on the BBC website. It seems that if you drink your 14 units of alcohol every seven days, there is approximately a 1% chance that you will die from an alcohol-related disease at some point in the future. It's apparently less risky than such daredevil weekly activities as eating more than two bacon sandwiches, or watching more than an hour of TV. I’m neither a doctor nor financially geared for an expensive lawsuit, so I’m absolutely not going to advise you to ignore these guidelines, or say that reducing your alcohol intake isn’t a good idea. What I will say though, is that if you are cutting back on your consumption, let's say by half, then this represents a golden opportunity for you to drink better wine. Two bottles of £5 wine are not only worse for you than one bottle of £10 wine, they are also less than half as nice. And if you choose quality, you might well discover that great wine is one of the things that makes life worth living in the first place.
English fizz beats Champagne in blind tasting
You've probably read a lot about English sparkling wine and the challenge it poses to Champagne, but if you are still in any doubt - here's the proof. In September our friends at wine magazine Noble Rot organised one of the most rigorous contests between these wines to date. A panel of genuine experts including sommeliers, wine writers like Jancis Robinson and Neal Martin, and chefs like Stephen Harris (The Sportsman) and Mikael Jonsson (Hedone) tasted ten wines blind. Six were famous Champagnes (a mix of growers and grandes marques), four were their English challengers. When the scores were tallied up, the panel's top two wines were both English. And the clear winner was Hambledon. Hambledon's classic cuvée is made from the traditional Champagne grape varieties by head winemaker Hervé Jestin (formerly of Champagne house Duval-Leroy). The grapes are grown on Windmill Down in Hampshire, part of the same chalk ridge that runs through the Champagne region. So grapes, winemaker and soil are as close as you can get to Champagne without actually being there. And yes, the wine does taste like a very good Champagne, but it also has something a bit different about it - a really tart, fresh and racy acidity, balanced by lots of fruit. English sparkling wine is already a serious alternative to Champagne, and it's only getting better. As that continues, it will be fascinating to see not just how good these wines can get at imitating Champagne, but what they can do to set themselves apart.
G is for Gluttony
If anything can make you feel better about overindulging in wine at Christmas, it's writing like this by M.F.K. Fisher. “Perhaps the nearest I come to gluttony is with wine. As often as possible, when a really beautiful bottle is before me, I drink all I can of it, even when I know that I have had more than I want physically. That is gluttonous. But I think to myself, when again will I have this taste upon my tongue? Where else in the world is there just such wine as this, with just this bouquet, at just this heat, in just this crystal cup? And when again will I be alive to it as I am this very minute, sitting here on a green hillside above the sea, or here in this dim, murmuring, richly odorous restaurant, or here in this fishermen's café on the wharf? More, more, I think - all of it, to the last exquisite drop, for there is no satiety for me, nor ever has been, in such drinking.” M.F.K. Fisher, 'G is for Gluttony', 1949
Our top four bestselling Christmas wines
Here at Roberson, we love to talk about the latest wines from the hottest undiscovered regions, but there are some wines that are so good, we go back to them year after year. Here are the four top-selling Roberson wines from last Christmas - all superb for Christmas drinking and recommended by the experts. And what's more, they're all part of our Christmas offers with special prices until the end of the month. 4. Chavy-Chouet's Bourgogne Blanc, 'Les Femelottes' At number four, it's the Bourgogne Blanc that thinks it’s a Puligny-Montrachet. Single-vineyard Burgundy from a brilliant producer. Wine writer Matthew Jukes reckons this tastes like it costs £30 and we agree. It's amazing, and it's now £12.99, reduced from £16. Buy it here 3. Moobuzz's Monterey Pinot Noir Moobuzz Pinot Noir, the most popular wine in our New USA range, has returned with a new label, and is 15% off - just £12.75 reduced from £15. Juicy, exuberant and with an easy-going Moneterey elegance - this is easy-drinking and absolutely delicious. No wonder it's number three in our bestselling Christmas wine list. Buy it here 2. J. Laurens' Crémant de Limoux Unbelievable quality for £11.99, reduced from £15, this is the best sparkling wine we’ve ever tasted that isn’t Champagne at £30+. This has been many a wine journalist’s top Christmas pick for years and it's number two in our list. Buy it here 1. Château Sénéjac's 2006 And finally, our bestselling Christmas wine - Sénéjac 2006. This was given a rave review by Jancis Robinson in the FT that it fully deserves. Incredible value for a classic left-bank Bordeaux to drink now or keep. Just £16.99 reduced from £20. Buy it here
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