Category Archives: Wine and Food Pairing

Best Yet Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting

Nearly a month later and I’m only just getting round to reporting that this year’s Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting in Maidenhead was the most successful yet.

Huge thanks to all 80+ guests who came along, what a great afternoon!

I of course took about 3 photographs; always in my mind, a good indicator of a good do. Here’s the best one….

Wine Tasting Maidenhead

The third of its kind, this intimate yet informal annual wine tasting was held in Perfect Friday Wine’s home town of Maidenhead at the most suitable venue of the Council Chamber in the Town Hall.

Anyone familiar with the town will know that events like this don’t tend to happen – not that I know of anyway, or I’d be there!

With over 40 wines to taste, talk and mingle over during the course of an afternoon, five Perfect Friday Wine suppliers poured and talked through the wines, including wines from some of the UK’s top London-based wine importers.

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Around half of the wines were new to the Perfect Friday Wine list, all available to order. Particularly well received was a new sparkling Calmel and Joseph Cremant de Limoux, South African wines from Black Elephant Vintners and a whole host of Argentinian reds.

I’m delighted to have given local folk a great excuse to leave the kids at home and enjoy an afternoon of great wine on their doorsteps and judging by the feedback, good fun was had by all.

If you do have photos of the day and haven’t yet shared, I’d love to see them on Facebook or Instagram.

Until next year!!

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Filed under Home Counties, Maidenhead, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Wine in Little Marlow at Emmett’s Farm, Buckinghamshire

Wine at Emmett's FarmEmmett’s Farm, where’s that? It’s a common question I’m asked when I mention my pop-up pitch outside a local Farm Shop. When I point out its location, between Marlow and Bourne End, not far from the A404, in rural Buckinghamshire’s Little Marlow, folk’s recognition is almost immediate.

But, there’s not just a Farm Shop, it’s a proper little destination. Many are familiar with Home Barn, a haven for all things vintage, reclaimed or antique. Then, better known by the ‘shooting set’, is the very manly Emmett and Stone Country Sports Store, or ‘the gun shop’ as I know it, which sits over in the corner, attracting folk driving the most eye catching cars from the filthiest Land Rover to the shiniest sports cars.

Putting Annie Sloan and tweed aside, we get to the foodie interest at Emmett’s Farm. First up, there’s the aforementioned Farm Shop selling local and seasonal vegetables grown right there on the farm. Think pumpkins, squashes and gourds in Autumn (great for cooking as well as Hallowe’en), sweetcorn in August, asparagus in May [calendar]. Then there’s all the other bits and bobs from small local producers; think baked goods, fresh bread and cakes, local honey, preserves, biscuits, cereals,  meat, cheese and pies.

Then, right next door sits Marlow’s longstanding Phil Bowditch Butchers and Fish Mongers. These guys not only serve up amazing quality meat, fish and seafood with a smile, they have their own smoker out the back, so this is the place to go for the best smoked salmon, bacon and sausages that I know of ’round these parts’.

Maidenhead Wine PopUp

All that seems to be missing, is wine! And that’s where I have been filling the gap now and again since May 2014, with the Perfect Friday Wine Pop-up Wine Stall and Wine Tasting. Amazingly, it has actually been sunny and warm for my last few pop-ups, the latest on 16th July, when I introduced the new-in, organic, robust, Spanish red, Quinta Milu Roble from Ribera del Duero. [Read more about Milu and Ribera del Duero].

Between Bowditch, the Farm Shop and I, we really do have all you’d need for a sunny BBQ/ cosy winter weekend at home, not only serving great quality provision with good old fashioned personal service, but leaving you with that feel good factor of shopping local and supporting small businesses. If you are remotely interested in good food and caring about where your food comes from, this really is a great place to find exceptional local and quality produce (an wine) in one place.

I’ll be back at Emmett’s Farm with wine on Saturday 24th September (plus the run up to Christmas 2016, TBA), where I’m looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces and getting to meet many more local wine drinkers. I always have wines open to taste, there’s no minimum order, I take credit/ debit cards and I’ll even carry your wine to your car boot. If I don’t have the right wine there on the stall, I’ll deliver it later in the week or let me know ahead of time and I’ll have your wine there ready and waiting. I have everything covered, except guarantee of the weather!

So bring the dog, don those Dubarry’s and I’ll see you at Emmett’s on September 24th! If it helps, please do sign up to my newsletter and I’ll remind you nearer the time.

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Home Counties, Local produce, Maidenhead, Wine and Food Pairing

I Love Picpoul de Pinet

Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet

Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet.

It’s happening. It’s taken a while, but more and more wine lovers are beginning to have heard of Languedoc-Roussillon’s Picpoul de Pinet. For every Pinot Grigio lover out there that I have introduced to Picpoul de Pinet, I cheer. I have reached my goal. One more wine drinker trying and loving something new. Each time someone says to me, ooh, I love Picpoul de Pinet, I am delighted that they have more than Prosecco or Marlborough Sauvignon in their wine repertoire. Fist pumps and High Fives all round.

Picpoul de Pinet is a curious name for a wine, non? It’s easy really – Picpoul’s the grape, Pinet is one of the Herault towns by which the vines grow. Flanked by the A9 main road between Montpellier and Beziers, and the Etang du Thau lagoon, the vineyards are situated on the flat, salty plains in close proximity to the French Mediterranean coast.

Picpoul in all its gloriousness, is a wine of simplicity. As often is the case, the wine was made to drink with the local food. Unsurprisingly, there is no lack of seafood and shellfish fresh from the local shores and lagoon itself in this part of the world – visitors to the region might be familiar with the picturesque port of Sete. Oysters and mussels this fresh need little preparation and anything more than a fresh, clean and simple white wine, such as the Picpoul de Pinet drunk alongside, would easily trample all over such delicate, natural and delicious flavours.

As I glance out of the window , I’m greeted by a damp and grey Spring afternoon in suburban Berkshire, a far cry from when I first tasted Picpoul de Pinet, sitting on the Grau de Roi quayside, basking in the evening sunlight with a chilled glass and a fresh-out-the-sea platter, although I don’t have a photo to insert <here>, I’ll keep that memory close in my thoughts until I can relive that moment even better, when I open that bottle of Picpoul de Pinet waiting for me in the fridge.

If you’re yet to taste the delights of Picpoul de Pinet and are local to Marlow and Maidenhead, come and see me on the 19th March outside Emmett’s Farm Shop for a taste of the Villa Blanche Picpoul as featured in my Spring Wine Case, or drop me an order for local wine delivery! If you love it already, I’d love to hear where you first tasted it!

 

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Eating/ Drinking Out, France, Grape Varieties, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Travel

Languedoc Wine Hotel, Chateau les Carrasses and Canal du Midi Wine Tasting

Now I’ve set the Saint-Chinian scene and explained a bit about the wines in my previous post, I’ll go on to tell you more about the beautiful and very tranquil region of Saint-Chinian and the fabulous Languedoc wine hotel we were so lucky to stay in.

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The view from the terrace at Chateau les Carrasses. The perfect base to explore Languedoc.

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Chateau les Carrasses

Bearing in mind that the school summer holidays were 2 whole months long and I’ve only just started to recover, to say the view from our first night’s accommodation,  the Chateau les Carrasses, brought a smile to my face, is a massive understatement. A little gem of a hotel, hidden away in the Saint-Chinian countryside, only 35km from Beziers Airport, I’m tempted to pop over every weekend. The Chateau les Carrasses is adult and child friendly, has a gorgeous pool with some jawdropping views. There is also an onsite restaurant and terrace and even bikes for all the family to borrow.

Being surrounded by vineyards, Chateau Les Carrasses also makes its own wine, a refreshingly chilled glass of which was gratefully received on the terrace on our arrival. Although those workers amongst us had a jam-packed itinery filled with wine tastings, visits to tasting rooms and sites touristiques du Saint-Chinian, regular guests who fancy being taken out into wine country beyond the adjacent vines, can get a feel for the locality on a Les Carrasses’ Wine Activity Day.

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Wine Tasting on the Canal du Midi

If you prefer to make your own way around, but aren’t sure where to start, there’s the Office du Tourisme du Canal Midi in local village Capestang, a short cycle ride away (although it’s uphill home). The office du tourisme is named after the ancient canal that runs right through the village, stretching to Toulouse in the west, straight across to the Mediterranean near Sete. The tourist office have a summer long schedule running regular wine tastings alongside the Canal du Midi, buddying up with local winemakers who are more than keen to share their wines with willing tasters.

You could also do as we did and grab a hire boat on the Canal du Midi, pick up some wine from the Office du Tourisme, and take a (self-driven) tasting actually ON the Canal itself.  This was undoubtedly the most peaceful wine tasting that I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience – I think I may have actually gone into a trance-like state as we pootled along the canal on a little boat, in the warm evening sun, tasting delicious local wine and produce from the surrounding Saint-Chinian area, to the sound of the breeze in the plane trees.

Saint-Chinian whites as I like them.

Saint-Chinian whites as I like them.

As mesmerised as I was, I did manage to stay awake and took lots of tasting notes before we headed back to the Chateau les Carrasses for dinner. Although most of the best wines in Saint-Chinian are red, the best of the whites can be very tasty indeed. Perhaps the most notable of the wines tasted being this Cuvee Bois Joli from Chateau Coujon, a Grenache Blanc and Rolle (better known as Vermentino) blend which had seen 6-8 months on oak. A crisp and citrussy white with pineapple flavours and a hint of dried coconut went particularly well alongside the tiny local olives known as ‘Lucques’.

After all that hard work, there was only one thing for it, to head back to the Chateau les Carrasses for a slap up dinner in their restaurant and of course, more wine tasting..

 

 

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Food and Wine Pairing: Crumbed Pork and Catalonian Carignan

Crumbed Pork Medallions and Catalonian Cariñena (Carignan from Montsant DO).

Of course, food and wine matching isn’t the be all and end all of culinary enjoyment (a non-red wine drinking friend of mine takes her steak with Sauvignon Blanc, and why not!),  I know how my readers like a good food and wine pairing, so, rather than me suggest vague food to go with the Perfect Friday Wines, I thought I’d spin it around a bit and match my wines to go with some proper recipes.

Although my Spaghetti Bolognese recipe obviously rocks the house, I thought you might like something a bit more exciting than that – plus, the next post, where I make the leftovers into a lasagne, might become a bit samey. Then, I felt a bit mainstream using one of my trusty Jamie Oliver recipes and a bit boring sharing something that I’ve picked up on BBCGoodFood.com, so I thought I’d ask someone who knows what they’re doing to help out.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve met and got to know many interesting local business folk around and about the Maidenhead area – who’d have thought we’d have so many of them! One of the most relevant to my line of work, being THE official food blogger for the Maidenhead Advertiser, Cookham based, Lara Cory (a celebrity!!). Lara also writes her own blog at Feeding Time Blog, and I thought we’d make the perfect pairing, Lara’s summed up both of our passion for eating, drinking and sharing, very well:

We love food and we love wine and we’re going to help you enjoy the best of both.” 

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Lara not only accepted my challenge for a seasonal produce recipe that I could perhaps tie in with English Wine Week, but much to my delight, I shortly got a call from Lara somewhere deep in the Berkshire countryside, sourcing some local free range pork from a nearby Farm Shop (Ferny Grove Farm, which I must visit myself!) – the girl means business!

The next thing I know, quicker than I can prepare a cheese board, Lara’s been in the kitchen and come up with this very delicious recipe for Sage Crumbed Pork Medallions.

Now, originally, I’d had that pork lined up for an English Bacchus,  but the mere suggestion of sage, herbaciousness and ‘spring-like’, 11196221_435271559967974_5154378016674714301_nlead me to mentally open and pour myself a glass of the Cellar El Masroig Sola Fred Tinto, in the time it takes me to unwrap a slab of Manchego.

So why the Sola Fred? Well, not only is it one of my favourite sub-£10 wines at the moment (I am LOVING Spanish wines at the mo), but it is savoury and fresh and fruity (think red cherries), with some bright acidity – spot on with pork. Generally where Pork is concerned, I really like an appley, structured white (Pouilly Fume is my ultimate pork white) or a tasty red that’s not too heavy, so a Pinot Noir or a Carignan are perfect. It was the herbs though that lead me to the Sola Fred, pulling me towards a red wine over white and something more savoury than the Casa Silva Pinot Noir or the Calmel and Joseph Vieux Carignan. There’s also the fact that of course, the spaniards are pork mad, so this softly tannic Carignan (Cariñena or Mazuelo in Spanish) with a splash of juicy Garnacha from Catalonia’s Montsant is bang on. If you haven’t tried it yet and you’re a wine drinker looking for a good deal, I urge you to try (or order as part of a pre-selected mixed case). Montsant is bang smack next to, infact it surrounds, Priorat, famous for producing some of Spain’s best and most illustrious wines. Although the soil is a tad different in Montsant (Priorat has this unique slatey soil called Llicorella) and the climate is evers0-marginally cooler, the yields are still low and the quality of the wines, made from the same grape varieties, remains high, with the added benefit of being a little easier to drink young.

We hope you have a slap up feast between these two! For more food and wine pairings from us Maidenhead duo, you can follow Lara on Twitter @feedingtimeblog (and me, @perfectfriwine) or sign up to receive notifications of either blog. Are there any of your favourite recipes that you’d like wine matched? Or perhaps Lara can recommend a recipe for one of your favourite wines? Just, let us know, we love a challenge!

 

 

 

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Grape Varieties, Seasonal, Spain, Wine and Food Pairing

Christmas Lunch Food and Wine Pairings

nat_lampThroughout the year, as the seasons change, I am always asked about which wines to drink with different food. As well as pairing the normal summer BBQ and that date-night steak, this year I’ve also been asked to match wine with Israeli food, Catalonian fare and even with a Sri Lankan feast – my tummy rumbles with just the thought.

Christmas time is of course no exception, and I know it’s only mid-November, but I’ve been asked what would be a good bet to pair with a traditional Christmas Lunch since the beginning of October.

Here in the PFW household, we alternate who we impose on for Christmas Day each year across 3 sets of family, and although the wine drinking requirements differ at each home, the feast before us is always glorious and never just stops at the Turkey, as I hope is the same in most homes.

Because of this, it’s not just the turkey that you need to think of when pairing the Christmas lunch with wine. Think of the cranberry sauce, the pigs in blankets, herby stuffing, the sprouts (yuck) and array of roasted root vegetables.

Let’s start with the white. You need something with a bit of cojones or the wine will be lost against all those rich flavours. Look for a wine with a bit of body, a zing of acidity that isn’t overly fruity or herbaceous. A Pinot Grigio is going to fall flat here and the boldness of ‘that’ grass in a NZ Sauvignon will clash.

Viogner_ReservaMaking a comeback, I’d recommend finding something with a little oak and here at PFW, I’ve done the work for you. No, no, I’m not suggesting an over-oaked Aussie Chardonnay, don’t worry, we’ll leave that back in the nineties, but a wine that’s developed some lovely buttery and creamy roundness yet still has that lifted finish that will cut through the heaviness of the meal:

Casa Silva Viognier Reserva 2013 (Colchagua Valley, Chile) 10% of this wine has sat in an oak barrel for 3 months giving an ever-so-subtle smokiness and lively roundness to the palate. Dry with nectarine, honeysuckle and a perky acidity that you’ll welcome against the gungiest of bread sauce. Fabulous value.

ravieresDomaine Sallet Macon-Villages Uchizy ‘Clos des Ravieres’ 2011 (Macon, Burgundy, France). Elegant and luxurious with subtle vanilla and citrus, this is bright and creamy, as you’d expect from a lightly oaked white Burgundy. Such a treat, but if I still can’t convince you of the benefits of oak, the unoaked Chateau Vitallis Macon-Villages Fuisse  (from declassified Pouilly Fuisse grapes) makes a fabulous alternative – think Chablis with a shade more body.

And on to the reds. What we’re looking for here is something not too tannic or overly woody, with a medium body and acidity. Anything too heavy is going to overpower, anything too light will be blown away, so I’d suggest a juicy and glorious Grenache.

Grenache’s most famous home is undoubtedly the Southern Rhone Valley, where there are various tiers of wine quality, from your cheap and cheerful ‘Cotes du Rhone’, all the way up to the ‘Cru Villages’, Chateauneuf-du-Pape being perhaps the most reknowned. Despite there being allowed 13 different grape varieties in Chateauneuf, the most classic Southern Rhone blend is predominantly Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvedre. Look a little way to the West, and we see a throng of Grenache vines also in Languedoc-Roussillon, producing some stonking wines blended mainly with Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvedre.

pradasAgain, I’ve already sought out the perfect match – make sure you avoid anything too Mourvedre heavy, so in this instance try my trusty Calmel and Joseph St Chinian 2011 with its subtle smokiness and red berries, it’s perfectly balanced for Christmas Lunch, just 30% Grenache, the harmonious blend with Carignan and Syrah provides the right structure, flavour and body to work with the plethora of flavours and textures on that overloaded plate.

stchinian-360x1335Domaine Pradas Gigondas 2011. If I got you excited at the mere mention of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, look no further than one of its fellow and lesser known Cru Villages for wines that are just as exceptional, but with a kinder price tag. Around 12km to the north east of its famous cousin, Gigondas sits in a more elevated position is becoming better known this side of the channel, along with Vacqueyras, Rasteau to name just 3 of the 18 Crus villages. A classic Grenache (appellation rules state a minimum of 50%), Syrah, Mourvedre blend, this wine has juicy blackberry and grippy tannins to match the richness and complexity of the Christmas feast in hand and although drinking well now, will age further for a couple more years yet.

Wines are available to taste every Saturday between now and Christmas at the pop-up wine stall. Order your Christmas wines now for local delivery or collection from Emmett’s Farm on Saturday 13th or 20th December. Keep an eye on Facebook for festive offers and giveaways and see my CHRISTMAS page for suggested mixed cases and gifts.

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Food and Wine Matching : Middle Eastern Food

I’ve been working with my first supper club ‘Pop-up Dinner Reading’ to help the ladies behind the cooking, Laura and Anu to enrich their guests’ culinary experience even further by recommending and providing the perfect wines to pair with their delicious tasting menus.

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The Local Vineyards of Maidenhead: English Wine Week

eww14If you’ve already chatted to me at a Perfect Friday Wine event, it’s likely that I’ve already bent your ear about just how wonderful English Wine is these days, and also likely that you’ve tried some of my award winning sparklers from Bluebell Vineyard Estates in East Sussex. Had I mentioned that their Brut Rosé has just won best sparkling rosé in the Judgement of Parsons Green competition against over 90 other English sparkling wines and came third overall? Well, now you know and if you haven’t already, you must try it – it’s glorious!

East Sussex is also home to some of the better known vineyards such as Ridgeview, Henners and much anticipated Rathfinny. The rest of the southern-most counties, are also home to the biggest and internationally recognised vineyards such as Camel Valley in Cornwall, Nyetimber in West Sussex, Chapel Down and Gusborne in Kent to name but a few. But you may be surprised to know that up here, nearby in the Chilterns, where the soil is still similar to that of Champagne, and the climate is still nice and warm (a degree up in the last decade), we have a whole plethora of local viti and viniculturists of our own, growing the same grape varieties and making wine in the same traditional method as Champagne.

As we approach English Wine Week (24-31 May 2014), allow me to introduce you to Maidenhead and Marlow’s own local vineyard scene, some of our closest vineyards and what they’re up to, in the hope that I can intrigue you enough to get a little bit interested in English wine, how it’s a growing player in our local produce scene and encourage you to get out there and taste it!

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Move over Corbieres, step in Faugeres…

photo (4)Please do come and visit Perfect Friday Wine this Saturday 5th April (not March as I’d previously stated in an email communication!) on Maidenhead High Street. The first Saturday of the month is always bustling with most of the usual traders down there, so come and support your local market! Bring a copy of my latest article in local freebie magazine, ‘Life Etc’, to receive 5% off any purchase. The article can also be viewed on pg38 here if you’ve already ‘filed’ yours in the recycling bin, I will be testing you to check that you’ve read it. 🙂
If you can’t get down, I am currently taking orders for delivery on Friday 4th April – don’t forget FREE local delivery to Maidenhead. Please note that as of Sunday, 4 of the wines* will be increasing in price, so get your orders to me by Saturday to take advantage of today’s prices. To soften the blow, any order of 6 or more bottles (was 12) will now attract a 5% discount.
 So you can try before you buy, I will have the following 3 wines open for tasting  this coming Saturday;
  • faugeres2-360x1335 Calmel and Joseph ‘Les Terroirs’ Faugeres 2012 *NEW AND IN STOCK* £10.50 I have decided to not stock the Corbieres (2 bottles are still up for grabs) over summer, but in its place steps the structured and almost minty, Faugeres, also from Languedoc in France. A similar blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan to the versatile St.Chinian but TOTALLY different reflecting the difference in where the vines are grown (the terroir). This one is wilder and more rigid with some fabulous meaty tannins and a big punch of ripe plums. If you’ve ever seen the term ‘garrigue’ mentioned in a tasting note, this has that exact sentiment of lavender, rosemary and a hint of eucalyptus. Great with barbecued minted lamb chops or my favourite Spag Bol.
  • Villa Blanche Grenache Gris Rosé  (Languedoc, France) Dry, delicate with raspberry fruit, welcome acidity and a lingering finish. *NOW IN STOCK* £8.50 (rising to £9 on 6th April, as will the other Villa Blanche wines). Another chance to try my much anticipated Rosé now it’s actually here.
  • Calmel and Joseph Languedoc White *NOT YET AVAILABLE, FEEDBACK REQUESTED* I’ve been looking for a Marsanne/ Rousanne blend for a while and then as if to read my mind, my trusty Calmel and Joseph release the very same! I am very excited to taste this typical white Rhone blend and would love to hear my customer’s thoughts before I add it to the wine list (£10-10.50). If it’s no good (which I doubt), I’ll be opening my new Comenge Verdejo 2012 instead.
Since Bank Holiday season, will shortly be upon us, I have added some new Spring wines by the case, one ‘Summer’s Coming 6’ (£61.75) inspired by my husband’s recent order (yup, that’s right, I make him pay 🙂 ), the other ‘Spring Forward 6’ (£62.70) by my most popular wines sold in March, so if you need inspiration for a case, these are designed to help.
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of a new and local independent business. I put a lot of thought into reviewing the wine list and finding interesting and exciting, well-priced wines to add to the portfolio and continue  to aim to introduce you to wines that make a change to the usual Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Aussie Shiraz. I welcome your feedback too, so drop me a line and tell me what you’d like to see next. Do please get involved on Facebook too, I love to hear what you’ve been drinking!
*Although I’ve kept the Villa Blanche and Pierre Paillard wines priced lower than the RRP for as long as I can, Mr Osborne’s latest duty increase has tipped me over the point of no return and price increases will be in place as of Sunday 6th April. Villa Blanche wines will be increased to the RRP of £9, the champagne will increase to £28. I have been searching high and low for a new sub £9 range but am yet to find one worthy of PFW. Orders taken before Sunday and delivered by 12th April will take advantage of today’s prices.

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Filed under France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Sherry in a nutshell

I wanted to share my exploits this week with Sherry. Foolishly, a couple of months back, I voiced to the person in charge of the monthly wine tasting group that I attend, that a Sherry tasting would be interesting. I was then, quick as a flash, delegated the task in hand and I have therefore spent a whole lot of time over the last couple of week’s preparing a sherry tasting for the group.

Have I ever been to Jerez? No. Do I drink a lot of sherry? No. Did I truly realise just how complicated the wine making process of Sherry is? No. I thought that it was all about the solera and then it ended there……..boy am I naive.

Anyhow, I spent a few hours (days) researching, finding a selection of wines that covered most of the styles and came up with a useful enough, factual tasting to present to the group and luckily there were some more initiated members who could fill in the gaps for me.

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Filed under Grape Varieties, Sherry, Spain, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting