It was Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, who wistfully informed us that wine made daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance. Perhaps he was fonder of the ole vino than we were lead to believe but certainly his views cast some light on this multi-million Euro industry that carries a certain level of mystique still to this day. When paired with the right foods and savoured in a relaxed and comfortable setting, wine really is the drink of kings and queens that yet is accessible to us mere mortals. Thankfully modern wine-making techniques allow for production of delicious, mouth watering wines with layers of flavours that won’t blow a great big hole in your wallet.
To quietly impress that often-overzealous wine expert at dinner choose wines that dance along merrily with your courses. Here’s a few suggestions to bluff happily away…
- With its naturally high acidity and fine bubbles, Champagne is the ideal aperitif to get the juices flowing. The biscuit notes contrast with salty hors d’oeuvres and the fine bubbles glide through oily salmon bites or goats cheese crostini’s. Of course Champagne is the essence of finesse and is equally as graceful alone. Bollinger N/V (It has extra biscuit notes that wine geeks love)
- They say Riesling is the King of all whites and most wine experts have a deep love and affinity with these wines. Just a touch of residual sugar found in many Alsace Rieslings will soothe the lime green acidity and oily characters that give depth of flavour. These are magnificent food wines and work well with charcuterie meats, terrines and a host of seafood treats to start you meal. Trimbach Riesling from Alsace
- The wet North Western coast of Spain is home to a zippy, fresh white wine that has recently garnered much accolade and praise worldwide. Godello is very often produced with seafood in mind. They have soft stone fruits on the palate with a vibrant streak of lemon acidity almost doing the job of the traditional wedge of lemon garnish served with white fish. Although delicate on the palate they have an intensity of flavour and are a refreshing alternative to the well churned out Sauvignon Blanc. Bodega Maria Teresa Nunez Godello Valdeorras.
- Gigondas is the affordable and enthralling Rhone Valley red that can hedge its bets against the likes of a majestic Chateauneuf du Pape. They have bountiful ripe fruits on the palate with smooth tannins that love the challenge of a lump of red meat. Although this style of red is ideal with red meat, they have a fruit driven presence that makes them great with a cheese board or a piece of very dark chocolate. Domaine de la Bouissiere Gigondas Rhone Valley
- Although distinctly out of fashion, desert wines are savoured and discussed in great length by many a wine nerd. Vin Santo from Tuscany is made from grapes left to dry in the sun and has flavours of raisins, prunes, coffee, liquorice, chocolate and hazelnuts. You might be surprised by their versatility and approachability. Casa Torelli Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC
Death Row Wine Choice would be a Kabinett Mosel Riesling with perhaps 15 years of ageing. The red I would choose is a Vosne Romanee Grand Cru Burgundy. Expensive taste I know but if I am going to die I would like the best.
Brigid O’Hora lectures in Wine Studies in Cathal Brugha Street, DIT. She is a wine consultant for Diep Le Shaker and Diep at Homes. She also writes a monthly piece for Food and Wine on food and wine matching.