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The World of Wine
It seems to have its own terminology that only the wine geeks understand. The elaborate wine descriptions that pour out from wine tastings often lead to accusations of pretentious nonsense or even snobbery. But before we dismiss these things completely and tell the wine pundits to put a cork in it, let’s consider why the wine industry invests so much time and energy into wine tasting.
Each and every wine has its own flavours and aromas, not just influenced by the grape used, but also the local climate, traditions in wine making, use of oak, and other techniques that have been perfected over centuries to produce the best results from local conditions.
This is most apparent in the traditional wine making regions, The Old World (France, Italy and Spain).
In the New World more settled climatic conditions have allowed big brands to create wines with greater consistency year upon year. Nevertheless even wines produced from the Super-region South Eastern Australia can’t fail to be influenced by differences in the annual weather and other conditions.
So the only way to convey to the consumer the flavours, aromas and style of this year’s wine is to provide Wine Tasting notes. Of course much of this is subjective which is why many professional bodies assign the task to a panel of experts.
At a personal level, Wine Tasting can offer a world of sensory delight. Most of the time we barely notice the flavours and aromas of the things we drink or eat so it’s good to really concentrate once in a while, enjoying some of the less obvious characteristics of the wine. Tasting a wide variety of wine allows us to get to know our own palate better, learning what we like and don’t like… and just as importantly, why we like what we like.
Remember, everybody is different so we all like and dislike different things.
Wine consumerism is influenced like many other things by fashion.
Italian wine has now become the second best seller in the UK, second only to the mighty Australian imports whose sales topped £1bn last year.
Italian wine sales rose by some 12% and no doubt it has been the meteoric rise in popularity of Pinot Grigio, now 40% of all Italian wine sales in the UK, has led this increase. For me Pinot Grigio is a little bland, and taken with a meal is often knocked for six by the flavours of the food. So I wondered if there was an alternative that is light, refreshing and a little more complex.
As an alternative
One suggestion might be Muscadet from the Loire Valley. ‘Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie’ is the full title of the particular style of wine I’m referring to. Ok I know, it doesn’t roll-off the tongue quite as easily as ‘Pinot Grigio’ but it will certainly roll across the tongue pleasantly when you drink it.
Muscadet wines are never too intense, with gentle aromas and flavours of apple, lovely mouth-watering acidity and here’s the clever bit… the ‘Sur Lie’ on the label means the wine was left on the sediment (the lees) after fermentation finished for a period of time. What that means for you is it has this wonderful ‘spritz’ , a slight prickle on the tongue adding to that deliciously refreshing sensation. They are light in alcohol too, never above 12.5%.
OK so it has a long name and it’s French, but apart from that what’s preventing it from becoming as popular as Pinot Grigio? Price can certainly not be the issue. A quick trawl of the internet has revealed the following prices, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. These wines are widely available:
- Tesco – Finest Muscadet £5.99
- Majestic Wine Warehouse – Domaine de la Toraline £8.49 or £7.21 if you buy 2.
- Marks and Spencer – Château de La Gravelle – £7.99
- The Wine Society – Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie, Château la Tarcière 2012
- ASDA – Chateau Salmonière Muscadet – £6.50
…Or ask your local Independent Wine Merchant. So go on, give a Muscadet a try!
(Images from Pinterest)