âFreedom Dayâ has passed and invitations to dinners, garden gatherings and long lunches have poured in. What’s on the menu. If you can’t pair wine with food, why not pair it occasionally? Or better yet, your host?
There are certainly some weighty names out there, wines that everyone will recognize as ChÃ¢teauneuf-de-Pape but given its ever-increasing eminence you have to pay through the nose for a moderately decent bottle when just a pop and a jump is more affordable Gigondas. Another region of the southern RhÃ´ne, Gigondas tends to be similarly Grenache, full-bodied with a little spice and it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish certain wines from the two vintages, especially from renowned producers such as Tardieu-Laurent.
There’s a reason Malbec is the second most drunk style of wine in the UK. The flagship grape of Argentinian Mendoza always pairs well, whether with a roast or a barbecue. At a recent tasting I hosted, this bottle of Norton Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec from Waitrose turned out to be great value.
Sometimes, however, it must be bubbles. Whether it is a party, a commiseration, a breakfast or a dinner and with any type of food, sparkling wine is always well received. Spanish cava is made in the same way as champagne but with different grape varieties and can be richer and rounder than its cooler climate cousin. Good value for money, this pretty Vilarnau was inspired by Gaudi and is a delicious bargain currently on offer at Tesco for under Â£ 10, although for sheer glamor Pere Ventura Vintage Cava not only comes in one. of the finest bottles I have ever seen, but was also awarded Platinum at the 2020 Decanter Awards, having had 42 months on top quality lees worthy of champagne.
For those who fancy drinking a more patriotic Platinum medalist, here are two English wines awarded this year. Both from Kent, no guest will refuse Gusbourne’s superb 2016 vintage, a magnificent vintage, the Blanc de Blanc 2016, which feels like sipping a cloud or, if you’re feeling a little more fruity, Chapel Down’s RosÃ© Brut. is fantastic to drink at less than half the price. .
Of course, we all have this Champagne enthusiast in our lives and if you want to bring a bottle that will truly impress them then go for the new Clarevallis 100% Premier Cru cuvÃ©e from Drappier. Considered one of the best boutique producers, this 8e The generation family estate owns some of the oldest and largest cellars in Europe and is one of the only champagne houses to cultivate the four âforgottenâ grape varieties of champagne, of which Clarevallis is 5% Blanc Vrai.
Natural wines, those with little winemaker intervention, are becoming more and more common at the dinner table, and not just among those who dress exclusively in hemp, live in East London, or love composting. If your host prefers their wines “as Mother Nature intended”, look no further than Ancre Hill which produces a low intervention wine list in their biodynamic cellar from the elegant Blanc de Noir, which is A far cry from the “cider” reputation of a few natty wines, to the truly awesome Clockwork Orange wine.
If you’re heading to a dinner party where you know your wine will make a selfie, then it’s all about FOLC, the UK’s top-ranked English rosÃ©. With a philosophy of transparency and inclusiveness, this gorgeous bottle is not only incredibly Instagrammable, but it’s also created by one of the few BAME wine producers in the UK, Elisha Rai.
South African Jolandie FouchÃ© is another influential woman in wine. Dubbed the ‘most exciting white wine discovery of the year’ by Tim Atkin in 2019, Wolf & Woman Chenin Blanc is created from 49-year-old South African vines, has just reached the UK and is a must for any powerful breakfast for women. FouchÃ© named this wine after a line by poet Clarissa Pinkola EstÃ©s “Some days, I’m more of a wolf than a woman, and I’m still learning to stop apologizing for my savagery”.
Maybe your host is rather arty, in which case a wine with a story is even more likely to slip easily. For film buffs, choose ChÃ¢teau la Canorgue 2020 which was the castle featured in Ridley Scott’s film “The Good Year”, a renowned director who now enters the world of wine himself. Those who prefer the brush should take a look at the CÃ´te d’Azur’s Minuty 281. This iconic vineyard overlooks the bay of Saint-Tropez and there are times when the sea and the sky merge to form a spectacular block of blue. While researching this color, Minuty finally found it in the Pantone 281, whose bottle they named and whose neck appears to have been soaked in paint.
Finally, we are all out of practice when it comes to the little social conversation. What if the evening was awkward? What if the conversation dries up? You need a wine that will ensure neither the cat nor the glass arrives, so get yourself a bottle of this excellent Wild Boy Au Bon Climat from wine legend Jim Clendenen. It tastes like the child in love with Burgundy and Californian chardonnay and will appeal to lovers of the Old and New World and its label is guaranteed to spark eyebrows and discussion.
If you are looking for something a little less daring, Mar de Frades is not only fantastically fresh, but this beautiful bottle has a bit of a gimmick, too. When the wine is cold enough to be served a small boat appears on the label waves and when it is too hot it disappears. As its design suggests, this wine is especially wonderful with seafood, but albariÃ±o is a perfect food variety, perfect when you have no idea what your host is serving.
Libby Zietsman-Brodie is the founder of Bacchus & Brodie, independent wine consultant, co-creator and presenter of Boozy & The Beast: how to drink better , Founder of No. 9 Club Dinner Instagram: @a_little_sip_of_me_time