A great bunch of new students at last night’s class, all chatty, lively individuals with a common interest in the noble grape!
Loads of questions of course, always is on the first night. Most people wanted to know how best to harmonise wines and foods. I explained that you should never make a hasty judgement about wine. Something that may taste terribly dry on the palate may alter considerably once you have tasted it with food. I illustrated this point with the lemon test. The students tasted a glass of Soave 2008 from North East Italy – it appeared dry and acidic. Students then sucked a piece of lemon, and then tasted the Soave again. The wine now tasted sweet! Proves my point – never judge a wine without food!
Another bunch of questions about longevity of a wine, when to drink and when to lay down for ageing.
Most wines sold in the supermarkets and stores are meant to be drunk ‘young’ and are not capable of ageing. Only those wines made with good quality grapes with sufficient tannin will last longer. We compared 3 young reds last night – a Merlot, a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Cab Sav was the one with the highest tannin level and would therefore age better than the others.
Now, what is tannin? Well, according to the wonderful Oxford Companion to Wine (which all wine drinkers should have on their shelves) tannins in wine come mostly from the grapes and to a much lesser extent, from the wood in which it was aged. The tannins in grapes are predominantly in the skins and seeds of each berry and also the stems i.e. the more skins, seeds and stems are involved in the wine-marking process, the higher the possible resultant level of tannins. The tannins present in a white wine can range from colourless through light yellow to amber.
You can recognise tannin when you drink a cup of over-steeped tea, or in a young red wine and in whites made with excessive skin contact. They produce the taste sensation of bitterness and the ‘drying’ sensation of astringency by interaction with the proteins on the tongue and insides of the cheek.
Readers of my blog have a chance to buy some great wine books at 40% discount. Go to the publisher’s website (Octopus Books) add the books to your basket and enter ‘Academy 1’
Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion
Renowned and respected throughout the world, Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion has been fully updated and revised and is now available in a brand new sixth edition.
Concise World Atlas of Wine
“Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson are the Bordeaux and Burgundy of wine writers…” The Times
Now for the first time, the world’s definitive wine reference, The World Atlas of Wine, is available in an innovative concise paperback format. It is as comprehensive and authoritative as the hard back, while being more portable and user-friendly.
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010
In his latest and 33rd annual wine round up for Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010, Hugh sends out a call to all wine lovers, be they enthusiast or connoisseur, to defend our great wine heritage, to explore, share and enjoy wine and rally against all the European governments, including our own, who seem so intent on demonising the tradition of drinking a glass with dinner!
Competition: All Chateau Harry blog fans have a chance to win all 3 books. Tweet Harry before 30 September and you’ll be entered into a draw, winner to receive all 3 books free of charge (worth £70).