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.
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.
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.
Winebird’s VINALOGY: Wine basics with a twist! is available in paperback price £8.99 and for Kindle price £3.99 from Amazon.
I LOVE social media. Yes, there’s lots of silly twittering in more ways than one. But I love the content I find about wine.
Did you know I like wine?
On Twitter I follow the hashtag #wine, on Instagram the same; on both #winelovers throws up good content. Or be more precise with a grape hashtag such as #pinot
I’ve found several blogs I like; one of my favourites is Please Bring Me My Wine. Billed as a “wine novice’s guide to getting stuck into grape juice”, its creator, Mike Turner, explores a grape each week.
Mike tells me: “This whole thing of wine bloggers, journalists, and enthusiasts? It is not an exclusive club. If you drink wine and like it then we all love to hear what you think. You’re the only person in the world with your tastebuds, so your opinion matters as much as the next one. Just enjoy it!”
Perfectly true. I so agree with Mike. One of the bloggers I have been happiest to find is Winebird, in “real life” Helena Nicklin.
This week Helena launched a book which took her lovely descriptions of wine (vinalogies, where she gives wines human traits and personalities) to an audience outside the Net.
Helena equates wines to things that we can relate to. It’s not standoffish; not geeky. Her descriptions make you go “oh yes, I can imagine that”.
I asked Helena what makes her approach to wine writing so different.
She tells me: “It’s ‘edu-tainment’. An awful word, but it sums up what I do. Instead of dry winemaking facts, I tell stories and paint pictures about wine which makes it easier to remember.
“I felt there was a niche that needed to be filled, between the fabulously detailed wine writers out there and normal people who just wanted some basics in memorable, bite-size chunks.
“I hope my ‘vinalogies’ do this, making learning about wine more fun.”
To people nervous about trying out new wines, she says: “Often people think they know about a wine, but are surprised when they blind taste. So, my advice is stop worrying and explore different wines.
“Go along to a tasting – it’s a great way to try wine without committing to a bottle and they are fun too.
“I always say: Aim to get to know the personalities of the 10 most famous red and white grapes and learn which regions around the world are famous for them. This will give you an amazing base to enjoy great wines.”
Winebird (www.winebird.co.uk) has shared exclusive thoughts on a couple of wines for you (and me) to enjoy this summer.
Taste the Difference Chablis (Sainsbury, £10) “Not your classic, steely Chablis as it actually tastes of the grape it’s made from: chardonnay, but it is a lovely pure, melony wine. Buxom blonde, this is not! Think of it as your fresh-faced girl next door amidst a sea of glamour models.”
Three word #vinalogy: Girl Next Door
A red. Santa Julia Seleccion Cabernet Sauvignon. (Waitrose £9.99) “Cabernet Sauvignon is the rugby player of wine grapes and in this version from Chile, he’s packed full of smoky blackcurrant fruit and crunchy mint leaves.
“Get it open early so it can air and be sure to eat something with it. He packs a punch!”
Three word #vinalogy: Brooding Rugby Player
Winebird’s VINALOGY: Wine basics with a twist! is in paperback at £8.99 and for Kindle £3.99 on Amazon.
You can see Winebird’s own pictures of the event here
This wine column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine May 10 2014
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