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The do’s and the don’ts of decanting

Question from Chris: What wine should I decant? How long should I decant it for and what should my decanter look like? Thanks!

In a nut shell: Decant cheap wine, young wine and big reds (cheap or expensive) like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah and Italian reds like Barolo, Chianti and Montepulciano d’Abuzzo. Acidic wines like Pinot Noir will develop in a decanter too.

Sometimes your wine should be decanted and drunk immediately but mostly it should be left for up to two hours (you’ll get the detail in the clam shell). When buying a decanter make sure it’s clear (I prefer glass over crystal because the facets can hide the sediment) with a narrow neck and wide centre. Read more

Dessert wine for those with a savoury palate

Question from Heath: I’m in a sticky situation! I really don’t like sweet wines; I like a more dry wine (like my personality). I was at a restaurant the other day and we had a degustation with matching wines. It was lovely until dessert! The wine was so sweet I couldn’t drink it! Can you recommend something that goes with dessert that isn’t sweet?

In a nut shell: I sure can but you’re going to have to be specific about what you eat for dessert. No more crème brûléefor one thing and forget about chocolate cake! You’re going to have to stick to fruits and berries if you want to drink dry wines with your dessert.

In a clam shell: Lots of sugar was the reason why you were served a super sweet wine with dessert and that’s absolutely what you should have been served (sorry). A dry wine would taste bitter, sour, tart and would lose all its flavour if paired with something sweet (and there’s no point drinking that). Your wine should always be sweeter than the food it’s paired with and hence why we drink super sweet wines with sweet desserts. A sweeter wine with a sweet dessert should taste less sweet than if you had have drunk it on its own but still fragrant, aromatic and delicious. Read more

A match made in heaven

Question from Jo: Should I buy the wine first, or the cheese?

In a nut shell: The best thing about pairing cheese and wine is that there is a cheese match for every wine and a wine match for every cheese so in short it doesn’t really matter. If you’re craving an oaky Chardonnay start with the wine but if you’re dying for a stinky blue let the cheese do the talkin’.

*disclaimer – please excuse the glass… I was desperate… I had cheese, I had wine, I had a water glass… it was better than nothing.

In a clam shell: There are a lot of grape varieties out there and a lot of cheeses too so where do you start when pairing cheese and wine? Thankfully, there are a few general rules you can follow to ensure the perfect match. Read more

Does price equal quality?

Question from Alice: Does price really dictate the quality of the wine?

In a nut shell: Always, never and sometimes. This is such a hard one to answer because wine enjoyment is so objective. What tastes amazing to me might taste rubbish to you and vica versa. This I cannot answer with a yes or no so you’re going to have to read the ‘clam shell’ where I’ve listed all the factors that bump up the price of wine (which the cheaper bottles lack) and then you can decide for yourself if these qualities are what you like in a wine. But the bottle line – if you enjoy drinking your staple $10 red then why stop because it’s not a ‘quality’ bottle. What a heap of codswallop! If you enjoy it then it’s a ‘quality’ bottle to you and that’s all that matters!

In a clam shell: If we’re to talk about the factors that bump up the price and ‘quality’ of a wine then unfortunately your $10 bottle is probably not going to cut it in terms of the textbook definition. That’s not to say that you should stop drinking that $10 pearler – if you can’t taste the difference between your $10 bottle and a $150 bottle you are VERY lucky! Embrace this for as long as you can. I want to be you! Read more