Women like blokes with wine knowledge but are they bluffing?

IF you’re lackadaisical about wine labels; if you rage about reds or whimper over whites; if you blush at a barolo or glaze over at a gerwurztraminer; if you pale at a pinot noir or think tempranillo is a percussion instrument;  fear not.

Because you might not be the only one.

Jane Clare: Supposed to be looking confused
Confused: Posed by model (No wine was harmed in the making of this picture)

As another Bank Holiday is with us yet again (hurrah) I am throwing down the gauntlet. You have three days to try a new wine.

If you like New Zealand sauvignon blanc buy a Sancerre. If chardonnay is your bag, try Chablis.

Why am I being so tough on you? According to the Wine Spirits & Education Trust (WSET) British drinkers aren’t confident when it comes to selecting, buying and recommending wine. We consume a whopping 1.59 billion bottles of wine a year, but 70% of drinkers might be bluffing their way through wine aisles.

Women are less confident in their wine knowledge than men but men are more likely to bluff, pretending to know more about wine than they do.

Men are more likely to feel embarrassed by a lack of wine know-how, perhaps because one in six women thinks wine knowledge is an attractive trait.

Not me. It’s attractive if they go to the bar.

I spoke to Ian Harris, the chief executive of WSET, and asked if it mattered if people didn’t know about wine.

Ian Harris, WIne Spirits and Education Trust
Ian Harris

He said: “There’s no shame at all in not knowing much about the wine in your glass, but it’s a real shame if lack of confidence means you can’t enjoy it fully.

“Wine knowledge and the confidence that comes from it, opens the door to an amazing world of discovery.”

He said: “When people are faced with a wall of wines in a supermarket or a wine list, they are scared.

“We want to help people have confidence to look in the right direction for what they might enjoy.

“In a supermarket people have battled through the fruit and veg aisles and are faced with three or four hundred bottles of wine;Wine shelves whereas in the bread aisle there may be just 12 choices. It’s not surprising people are confused.

“The bottom line is that what you think is a good wine is the one that you like. But if people step out of comfort zones they may like others more.

“Put it this way, if you’ve been going on holiday to the same place for years, and then try somewhere different, you’d probably think ‘why didn’t I do this 10 years earlier’.”

Right. Who’s ready to pick up the gauntlet. I cheated a bit earlier. Because a Sancerre is sauvignon blanc; and Chablis is chardonnay.
Here’s some new International Wine Challenge winners to seek out.

Extra special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Extra special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

If you don’t like bold reds try this: Asda Extra Special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012 (£7.98) Silver. The judges say … nose of cherries, spice, ginger and mint, a fresh, supple palate of herbs, cherries, plums.

If you like sauvignon blanc, try this: Les Ruettes Sancerre 2013 (M&S, £13.99) The 2012 vintage won Gold. The judges say … steely traditional sauvignon blanc. Fresh grassy, herbal with spine-tingling acidity.

If you like a chardonnay, try this: The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Premier Cru Chablis 2011 (£14.99). Bronze. The judges say … flint, gunsmoke, grapefruit and peach aromas.
If you fancy something to pour on your ice cream, try this: Morrisons Signature Pedro Ximénez NV (£5.99) Gold. The judges say … black tea hue-salted caramel and sultanas.

There’s wine course info at www.wsetglobal.com.

This wine column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine May 23 2014 
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