Yesterday I wrote about my (very enjoyable and informative) experience at the Donnybrook Fair Wine Club, a four week evening course in wine appreciation. Far from being a poncy aristocratic experience, the course teacher Laura Peterson was very focused on value and had lots of great tips about getting good deals. She also had lots of advice about storing and serving wine, and matching it with food – see a small selection of the useful tips I picked up below:
- Great value can be had on Reisling, Portuguese reds, Chenin Blanc and South African wines in general as all are a little unfashionable at the moment.
- Those who say to only drink Old World wines are talking out of their BE-hinds. The New World has more consistent weather so fewer bad vintages. Also many of the Old World wines are designed to go with food, and they can be difficult to drink alone.
- White wine is often over-chilled which can numb the flavour. Take your white out of the fridge an hour before serving.
- Keep red wine somewhere cool and bring into a warm room 1-2 hours before serving. It’s best stored somewhere the temperature is consistent, as too much heating and cooling will affect the flavour. So not in the kitchen, for example.
- When it comes to food, 1) match the wine to the sauce rather than the meat, and 2) try to match by region – Italian wines go well with Italian food.
- Laura recommends spending around €12 to get a decent bottle of wine, and suggested drinking fewer of the €6-€8 bottles of plonk to invest in nicer wine instead.
- Contrary to popular opinion, white wine is generally a better match with cheese than red.
- I asked Laura which of the supermarkets she rates highest for wine selection and value, and while she wasn’t particularly keen on any of them, she said that M&S is probably the best bet. But independent wine shops will offer you the best knowledge and value for decent wine.
I really enjoyed the course and found that it made the whole thing a little less baffling (while instilling a respect in me for the amount of knowledge required to become a true expert).
If you have any top tips about wine, wine plus food, buying wine, drinking wine – we’d love to hear it in the comments below. Cheers!