If I was a wine I’d be Gewurztraminer, reveals Vinalogy author

If I were a grape variety,  I’d be Gewurztraminer. I know this because Helena Nicklin told me.
Helena is author of the book Winebird’s VINALOGY: Wine Basics with a Twist, and at the launch I filled in a form to discover my vinalogy, my wine self.
Lots of Do I Like This … Do I Like that … and Helena has now told me  I am Gewurztraminer which makes me very happy indeed.

Luckily it’s not my real first name, as it would be a nightmare for people writing my  birthday cards.

Here follows the Winebird’s description of me  (or the 7.30pm “tired after work me” that filled in the form …)

Soft and full-bodied, yet elegant, she’s a stunning meal in a glass! From spices to fruit, to rose petals, there’s so much going on. She’s the most distinctive grape in town, standing out amongst the others at parties. There’s substance beneath the perfume though; she’s not one to be forgotten!
All true, all true.
It’s all good fun. But educational too. Winebird’s approach to helping people understand wine is to encourage us to think of the grape variety as a person; she leaves all the technical detail behind and paints a picture for each wine, giving each grape variety  a personality with which people can identify.
Helena Nicklin, The Winebird
Helena Nicklin, The Winebird
In her book, Winebird has chosen ten white grape varieties and ten red grape varieties; given them a personality (which illustrator Olivia Whitworth beautifully brings to life); then adds a short overview of each, a handful of facts, and a Tasting Tour … in other words, how the variety is used around the world.
For instance, Winebird says of chardonnay: “Weren’t there always at least four people in your class with the same first name? In my year it was Kate; fat ones, skinny ones, drippy ones; foreign ones, you name it. Variations on a theme of Kate were popular the world over.”
Hence chardonnay = The “Kate” of the Wine World  in Winebird’s Vinalogy.
In Winebird's Vinalogy pinot noir is the Ballerina
In Winebird’s Vinalogy pinot noir is the Ballerina
The vinalogy for pinot noir is The Ballerina … “haunting beauty” “notoriously temperamental” “an abilty to make complex moves seem so smooth and  effortless”.
Albarino is a mermaid; cabernet sauvignon a professional rugby player; pinot grigio the Flatpack Furniture Grape. (Loving that one).
Gewurztraminer (that’s me folks) is the Exotic Market and Helena describes pink roses, spices, lychee and orange peel. All very sensory; the point being you recognise it. Understand it.
The book also includes a handy guide to understanding a wine list, answers some basic wine questions, and some terms and styles.
It’s a pretty useful … by that I mean  both pretty AND useful … read for any wine lover.
Vinalogy: WIne basics with a twist!
Vinalogy: WIne basics with a twist!
  • Winebird’s VINALOGY: Wine basics with a twist! is available in paperback price £8.99 and for Kindle  price £3.99 from Amazon.

Festive wines to enjoy with your Christmas Day meal

Sacchetto Moscato IGT Veneto NV

PRESENTS bought? Wrapped and under the tree? Thinking of the Christmas meal and festive wines? Well I’ve not done the presents thing – but I’m well on with the drinking thing. Let’s go.

Guests arrive. Sacchetto Moscato IGT Veneto NV (www.nakedwines.com £10.99 or £7.99 if you’re an investing Angel).The wine notes describe it as tasting like liquid lemon sorbet and they are not wrong. It’s like a weak cider meets 7Up with little alcohol taste at all (it is, after all, only 7% abv so a gentle start to Christmas Day).

While it may be too sweet for some palates, as an aperitif as the presents are opened, it could work wonderfully. If you want soemthing with more oomph, then Taittinger Brut Reserve NV (save £10 at Sainsbury, it’s £26.99 until Christmas Eve) is a pin-bright fruit-soft Champers with a famous label to impress guests.

Go fruity for the Christmas feast with a glass, or two, of this robust red Sainsbury’s Barbera D’Asti 2011 (£7.99 and two for £12 until January 1st). Its cherry and vanilla flavours are like a liquid Bakewell Tart and it’s a good bottle to uncork when people come calling to drop off their pressies. Worthy of a toast to Santa.

The contrast between sweet and sour is a big part of the traditional Christmas dinner, with its mix of flavours like cranberry sauce with turkey, or parsnips with sausage and bacon.

Frog’s Leap, a 2010 Napa Valley Zinfandel (Asda, £19.99), is an excellent companion to this festive blend. It’s packed with summer fruit flavours that hint at sweetness but stop short of being too jammy – like the best cranberry sauces.

But it’s no lightweight, either – with 13.8% alcohol, it still has plenty of depth and character to cut through savoury tastes like that rich turkey gravy.

Kaiserstuhl Pinot Noir 2008, Christmas wine
Kaiserstuhl Pinot Noir 2008

My Christmas Day favourite is pinot noir. Gamey mushrooms and a rain-dripped woodland are on the nose in a bottle of Kaiserstuhl Pinot Noir (£13.95 www.thewinesociety.com). This German pinot from the heart of Baden has a classy red fruit and cherry taste with a finely balanced acidity. Perfect whether you’re having turkey, goose, beef or maybe all three.

Beringer Founders Estate Chardonnay 2011 (£11.99, Majestic) has 14% abv and isn’t backward in coming forward with its oak-infused notes. But it’s not overbearing for all that and I likened it to a Masterchef pudding to drool over. Fresh fruit in layers of vanilla with a buttery honeycomb topping. Not too weighty for the sweet scrummy side dishes of lemon-sizzled sprouts (yum) and caramelised roasted carrots.

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaulignot 2011 (£16.99 www.virginwines.co.uk) is a white which can move effortlessly from a seafood starter to the main event and deliver on all counts. Crisp, dry, with both citrus and stone fruits.

Asda Extra Special Barolo is reduced from £15 to £11, and an IWSC Silver 2013 award winner to boot. Produced from Nebbiolo grapes in north west Italy, this ruby red wine is strong on the nose with a hint of cherry. Since the turkey is still on order I drank it with a Sunday roast chicken. This robust red is not for the faint hearted with a flavour that lingers on the palate. It was too strong for the chicken and would be better suited to earthy Boxing Day red meats.

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Published in the saturday extra magazine December 14, 2013

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