A few days lazing on a Greek island beach and it’s easy to forget that the wine you’re drinking smells and tastes like a bath full of pine needles. Retsina’s medicinal flavours are an acquired taste that can grow on you, especially if the local ouzo is too strong. But you never really quite wash those memories from your head, let alone your mouth. It wasn’t until Oddbins introduced a raft of fresh Greek wines to the chain way back when that it dawned on me that Greece had more to offer than retsina.
‘When I go to buy a chicken I like to have three to choose from. When I go to buy wine, I’m now presented with 300. It’s completely bewildering’. I struggled to believe my ears listening to the excellent Radio 4 Food Programme on the three major London wine fairs in late May. Was the blogger interviewed at the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) really complaining about ‘the sheer profusion of wines available from so many different countries and grape varieties and different takes on winemaking’?
Father’s Day is of course the perfect occasion for lavishing affection and gifts of wine on deserving dads. But it’s more than that, much more. It’s a day for thinking of fathers who have inspired generations of their children and children’s children in the wine world. I was strongly reminded of the importance of such family ties this year when I attended a lunch at The Square in London organized by a group called the Primum Familiae Vini (www.pfv.org).
It would be easy to knock Tesco’s new raft of lower alcohol wines given that few wine lovers would be likely to enjoy these saccharine zero to five per cent confections. You have to wonder whether ‘encouraging customers to be mindful of the amount of alcohol they consume’ plays second fiddle to the commercial imperative that ‘lower alcohol wines have seen positive sales growth over the past year’. According to the research company Wine Intelligence, lower alcohol sales will increase to six to eight per cent of the wine market.
Oh to be in England, yes, but its fizz doesn’t need me to bang the patriotic drum for it given that everyone from Raymond Blanc to Alan Sugar have been in on the act ad nauseam. Nor does this column need to overstate the virtues of English sparkling wine when it’s earned its own bragging rights thanks to an intrinsic quality and a mouthwatering maritime freshness. Hardly a day goes by without a report of English bubbly beating champagne at its own game; yet further evidence that English fizz has come of age in the year of the Diamond Jubilee.
Did you get a gong last week? NO? Can you live with yourself?