You are what you eat & drink


$1 Wine, but is it Plonk?

Australia’s wine ‘cheaper than a bottle of water’

A bottle of red wine on sale for A$1 on a tasting table in Melbourne

It depends what wine you’re looking at and where you get your bottled water, but on some big retailers’ shelves in Australia it’s not too hard today to find water that is more expensive than wine.

You may be considering a little-known bottle of red that’s sitting in a bargain bucket selling for one Australian dollar (53p).

Or you could be about to purchase a well-known white going for A$2.99.

That’s all before you spot your favourite four-litre box of cask wine selling for less than A$17.

Whatever you fancy, if you compare your purchase to an average 350ml of bottled water selling for about A$2.50, “then you’ve certainly got wine that’s cheaper than buying a bottle of water,” says Prof Kym Anderson from the Wine Economics Research Centre in Adelaide.

Source: BBCNews Read more

Is it Bullshit?

wine tasting notesSniff, sip, swill, spit…

Wine tasting, where you decide if it’s plonk or not plonk.

I read a post yesterday, or the day before on The Wine Wankers about the difference between wine drinking and wine tasting.

It made me think.

Why do we taste wine and not drink it. Tasting seems such a waste. We don’t have beef tastings where we spit the half chewed morsel out and announce that it tastes of spring manure.

Is wine tasting just an act of snobbery?



Obviously I am a peasant and don’t understand it.

Wine for me is a simple case of buy a bottle, if I like it I drink it. If I don’t like it, it goes down the sink, and I don’t buy it again; which, I might add, doesn’t happen very often.

Don’t get me wrong. I love wine. There is nothing more than a good wine and cheese to set my tastebuds on edge. There you get a chance to have a glass, or more of many wines. But you do drink it.

But the spitting, nah, that’s a waste.

This is NOT plonk

Hong Kong auction breaks record for most expensive wine

Lot of 114 bottles of Burgundy fetches $1.6m, or more than $14,000 each

A wine tasting in Hong Kong. China has overtaken France as the world’s largest consumer of red wine. Photograph: Ym Yik/EPA

An auction in Hong Kong has broken the world record for the most expensive lot of wine ever sold, with 114 bottles of Burgundy going for HK$12,556,250 (£1m, or $1.6m), Sotheby’s has said.

The auction house said a collection of Romanee-Conti, one of the world’s most sought after Burgundy labels, sold for the equivalent of $14,121 for each bottle or $1,700 per glass. The lot contained six bottles of each of the 19 vintages made from 1992 to 2010.

The previous record for a single lot of wine – also held by Sotheby’s – was $1.05m for 50 cases of top Bordeaux Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982, sold in New York in 2006.

“The Romanee-Conti superlot presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an unprecedented quantity of the world’s most desirable wine,” Robert Sleigh, head of Sotheby’s Wine in Asia, said in a press release. “It is only fitting that it has broken the world record to become the most valuable single wine lot ever sold at auction.”

A 66-magnum collection of Henri Jayer, owned by the Silicon Valley magnate and Netscape founder James Clark, sold for $1.1m, or $16,000 per magnum. Sotheby’s did not reveal who acquired either lot.

The record sales come despite a much publicised anti-corruption campaign and separate austerity drive by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, which has hit luxury goods and vintage wine sales in Hong Kong hard.

According to a survey by Vinexpo Asia Pacific, mainland China’s wine consumption fell by 2.5% last year, after 10 years of uninterrupted growth at a rate of 25% per year.

In 2013, China overtook France as the world’s largest consumer of red wine, drinking more than 155m nine-litre cases or 1.865bn bottles that year, according to Vinexpo. But the official austerity drive in China has meant that people are increasingly turning to cheaper wines.

Source: TheGuardian

Cheat Sheet for Wines


I like this label

wind-gap-woodruff-vineyard-pinot-noir-santa-cruz-mountains-usa-10345141Click label to enbiggenate

Take care

Wines are getting stronger

Warming climate and changed growing techniques are combining to raise the alcohol level in wines


Photograph: Katherine Rose for Observer Food Monthly

Two wines made in the same region, from the same grape variety, in the same vintage, at the same price. The only difference, as far as you can tell from the label, is the alcohol. One is 13.5%, the other 14.5%. Which do you choose? If, like me, you’ve learned that a single percentage point can make the difference between a bright new morning after and a sluggish one, you’re going to go for the lower alcohol option.

In the wine world a wine’s alcohol by volume (ABV) is more than a shorthand guide to how it will make you feel: it’s become a touchstone for a fractious debate about how it should taste. Lurking in the background of the dispute is the creeping rise in wine’s alcohol level: a 2% average global increase in the last two decades. The reason is that there is more sugar in the world’s wine grapes when they’re harvested – sugar which is then converted into alcohol during fermentation. The controversy surrounds how that sugar got there, and whether the effects it creates in finished wines are desirable.

Global warming has played its part: the warmer the climate – or vintage – the more sugar there will be in the grape. But wines have been made in hot regions for years, and yet you never used to find bottles with ABVs of 16% or 17% as sometimes come out of California and Australia. Similarly, there have always been warm vintages in temperate regions such as Bordeaux, but alcohol levels rarely broached 13%.

What has changed is the way grapes, particularly red grapes, are grown, and it’s here the controversy begins. At its heart is the concept of phenolic ripeness: the moment when the pips and stalks lose any trace of green. Over the last two decades winemakers became obsessed with techniques such as cutting back yields early in the year to concentrate on fewer bunches or waiting as long as possible to harvest. But the longer you wait for phenolic ripeness, the higher the sugar climbs, and the more acidity you lose. And so, the smooth tannins, and lack of green flavours tend to come with a side order of high alcohol, frequently at the expense of freshness and, some would argue, complexity.

The backlash against high alcohol wines has a militant, ideological edge. Many winemakers tell me they’ve drawn an imaginary line over which no wine should cross. Get much above 14%, they say, and a wine can never be truly fine. Some put the level even lower: I know of several independent retailers and sommeliers that avoid anything over 13.5%.

I can’t say I’m disappointed at this turn back towards elegance. But the move brings problems of its own. I wouldn’t go as far as Robert Parker, the powerful American critic famed for his enthusiasm for big reds, who dismisses the rush to lower alcohol styles as “essentially a phony, anti-California, anti-New World movement by Eurocentric self-proclaimed purists”. But I do think he has the ghost of a point.

Like Parker, I’m concerned that the obsession with an arbitrary acceptable alcohol level rules out some of the great warm climate wines, from Barolo to the Douro, from Roussillon to Napa, all of which tend to be around 14% or higher. The best producers in these regions don’t try to push ripeness to its outer limits. And tasting them you realise that what matters isn’t the number on the label, but a concept as elusive and subjective in wine as it is in life: balance.

Sourece: TheGuardian Read more

Ethiopian wine

Surely, an oxymoron…

First bottles of Ethiopian wine produced by French firm Castel

Half of 1.2m bottles of Rift Valley wine are intended for export, with company planning to double production

Women pick grapes at the Castel vineyard near the town of Ziway in Ethiopia. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images

The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.

The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.

The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.

Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.

Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.

“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”

The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Castel, A French Wine Maker, To Export Ethiopian Wine

A leading French wine maker, Castel Winery plans to begin bottling wine for export starting early next year from its Battu (commonly known as Zeway) based vineyard.
It is Ethiopia’s first foreign winery after all wineries were nationalized during the Derg regime, and has been cultivating four different types of French wine since May 2008.

Source: EthiopianNews

Leleshwa Savignon Blanc - Rift Valley

Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc – Rift Valley

Wednesday Whine

Back again after the interruptions of the World Cup.

Concha y Toro Merlot ReservadoToday’s wine, once again, is not in the rack, it’s in the glass as I write. Actually, there is another in the rack.

Concha y Toro



A Chilean wine from the Central Valley.

It doesn’t stipulate the harvest.

Aroma of ripe red fruit.

Goes well with white meats, pastas, pizzas, risottos and fresh white cheeses.

I am having mine with feijoada, a little bit heavier than the recommended pairings.

But I like the smoothness of Merlot.

Priced to fit my pocket at around R$20.oo.

definitely NOT plonk.

Concha y Toro winery

Concha y Toro winery



Which wine for what food


Click to enbiggenate

Wednesday Whine

Ugni blanc

The wine today is no longer in my rack…

I drank it on Saturday to celebrate the Argentine game against Iran in the FIFA World Cup…

Ugni Blanc Chardonnay 2013 from Viñas de Balbo, Mendoza, Argentina.

“This generic wine is obtained from the harmonic combination of Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay varieties which gives this wine a delicate yellow color with hints of green, a subtle and persistent aroma and a particular soft and fruity flavor. It goes well with white meats, soft cheese, fish and seafood.”Don Cano Wines

Although I drank it with weinerschnitzel, boiled minted potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce…

Good price, went down a treat, looking for more.

The Mendoza region in northwest Argentina produces many great wines. Here’s a good guide to northwest wines: Grape Travel

My rating: Definitely not plonk.


How do you…

Wine and Cheese?


Wednesday Whine

Aurora-Colheita-Tardia-Semillon-e-Malvasia-Bianca-ALTA-244x1024I don’t have many Brazilian wines in my rack.

However, I do have a half bottle (500ml) of Aurora Late Harvest 2012 from the south, Bento Gonçalves.

Vinícola Aurora

Page in English

Grape variety: Semillon Mavasia Bianca

Best temp: 10 – 16ºC

Food pairings: desserts, mousse, cheesecake, chocolate fondue. Also with ‘blue vein cheeses, Roquefort and Gorgonzola.

Royal Stilton

Royal Stilton

Be interesting to try it.

Low-calorie and low-alcohol wine

Taste test: low-calorie and low-alcohol wine

Supermarkets are stocking more low-calorie and low-alcohol wines than ever. But are any worth drinking? We put them to the test

Zoe Williams with low-calorie and low-alcohol wine. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Ah, summer … the carefree season, one seamless tunnel from work to the pub garden. It’s like a Barclaycard advert, without the idiotic shopping. The wine is suddenly pink, which means it isn’t really wine, it’s more of a magical potion. But the days of devil-may-care wine supping, when calories didn’t count and alcohol was the whole point, are over. Virtuous wines are ubiquitous. Most supermarkets now calorie-count their wines and New Zealand is trying to lead the world with its low-cal vintners in a $16.97m industry push, a significant part aimed at the British market.

So if we’re going to be faced with a load of “healthier” wines, a word on the terminology; it is confusing. There are “light wines”, sometimes known as “lifestyle wines”, which can mean low calorie (“skinny wines”), low alcohol or both. A bottle will typically only measure one thing, so a low-calorie wine often won’t shout about how much alcohol it has. It sometimes won’t even tell you what grape it is. A low-alcohol wine will often not acknowledge that calories exist.

In any case, it’s meaningless, given the reason wine sabotages diets is not a high calorie-per-millilitre rating, but that it makes you drunk and then you don’t care about your stupid diet. So even though technically they aren’t, we can consider low-alcohol and low-calorie wines interchangeable.

Within the sub-categories of virtuous wines, there are complicated hierarchies. Some people think low-alcohol is fine, while low-calorie is vulgar. Others think low-alcohol is OK if it’s naturally occurring (maybe from a cool climate … mmm … sounds delicious), but actively removing alcohol from wine is crass. I would agree with this, incidentally – having tried Asda’s alcohol-removed, 0.5% chardonnay, there are many things I could say about its taste, but the most polite is: “This doesn’t taste at all like chardonnay.”

Brancott Estate Flight wine. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

This was by no means the worst wine, but it was the first, and therefore suffered from the weight of expectation, viz, that it would be just like normal wine, only lighter. It’s not. It is extremely sweet and thin, though it did improve the colder it got. How cold would it have to be before you’d choose to drink it? Really cold, but not so cold that it would defy the laws of the natural universe.

Source: The Guardian Read more about different low-cal, low alcohol wine

Wednesday Whine

CosechaTarapacaCarmenereHidden in the depths of my wine shelf I found this wine.

Yes, another Chilean wine; we get a lot of them here in Brazil.

Cosecha Tarapaca Carmenére


This is another unproven wine just waiting for that rainy day.

Food pairings from the bottle, roast red meat, pasta and smooth cheeses.

Being a Carmenére, probably great with BBQ too.

Chile produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today although the grape is originally from the Bordeaux region of France and beyond to ancient Rome.

Wednesday Whine

I went shopping today at a different supermarket than usual so I had a good browse amongst their selection of wines which extended along one side of a whole aisle.

I walked away with nothing.

After promising myself that I would limit myself to four bottles max.

Pinot Grigio, R$65 (approx $32), beyond my normal price, but I was prepared to spend. It had a screw top, so stayed on the shelf.

A South African wine stayed for the same reason.

A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, cheap at R$65, screw top, left it there.

There were many interesting wines, part of a Sommelier’s Selection brand, not interested in this type of wine promotion. In fact, about a third of their wines were of this type.

Sant1541merlotI was sorely disappointed.

One with today’s wine from my modest rack.

Santiago 1541 Merlot 2012

The capital city of Santiago, Chile, was founded in the year 1541, hence the name.

A solid everyday wine from Maipo region of the Central Valley this 100% Merlot.

A round and fairly complex wine for this price, R$19 (approx $10).

It fits my pocket.

Food pairings: Pastas, white meats and medium cheeses.

I have tried a bottle of this wine, and there are now another two in the rack as a result.



New Zealand Whitebait

New Zealand whitebait are the juvenile of certain galaxiids which mature and live as adults in rivers with native forest surrounds. The eggs of these galaxiids are swept down to the ocean where they hatch and the young fry then move back up their home rivers as whitebait. They are much smaller than Chinese or British whitebait.

The most common whitebait species in New Zealand is the common galaxias or inanga. The other galaxiid species identified with whitebait in New Zealand are the climbing galaxias or koaro.

The Common Galaxias or the Inanga (Galaxias maculatus), is a family that is very widespread in the southern hemisphere.

The most popular way of cooking whitebait in New Zealand is the whitebait fritter, which is essentially an omelette containing whitebait. – Wikedpedia

The near translucent whitebait

The near translucent whitebait

And the fritters…

Recipe and photographs courtesy of Kirsty Bowyer (New Zealand foodie)

Heaven on a table!

Recipe, etc: World Nomads

What wines would you pair with this?

Personally, I’d go for a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Any other suggestions welcome in the comments.

Wednesday Whine

Nederburg Winemaster's reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Nederburg Winemaster’s reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

I have a South African wine for this week.

Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Once again, I have no plans on when and where.

You can find more information on the Nederburg site; you’ll have to flick along the slideshow to find it. Complete with Food pairing recipes.

Food Pairing: “- the perfect match with seared rosemary beef, red wine jus, creamy potatoes and thyme roasted carrots” a note from Pintrest

At sometime in the future, I’ll let you know my layman’s thoughts.

Appreciate any comments from those who have had the pleasure.

Writers Block

I also have a dodgy belly, so my concentration is up the yop!


What your wine tastes like


Orange wine

Tastier than it sounds

This image not part of the original article

This image not part of the original article

A guide to the best of the winemaking style that offers new flavours, as well as colours

Orange wines? If you’ve not come across them before, you could be forgiven for thinking I’ve made them up. It sounds like something an ambitious but clueless marketing person would come up with having sized up wine’s annoyingly limited colour palette and convinced their bosses what Generation Y really want is a brand new colour of drink.

In fact, if you listen to orange wine’s (many) detractors, the artisanal producers of this niche but, in sommelier circles, very on‑trend style of extreme white are more cynical than any corporate producer. Orange wines, those critics say, are an emperor’s new drink, a way of passing off faulty, cloudy, dirty brews as an authentic, avant-garde and, of course, expensive way for credulous enthusiasts to express their individuality.

I sympathise with the critics, but only up to a point. There can be something offputting about being served an orange wine if you’re expecting a conventional white. It’s not just the colour, which can be amber or a brick-like pink. It’s the challenge they present to our idea of what white wine should look like.

But for fans of the style – and I’d now count myself among them – the colour and appearance are the least interesting thing about them. There is a combination of flavours in the best examples – orange pith, spice, cherries, nuts, pears and Campari-like bitter herbs – that you just don’t get in other wines. Even more arresting are the textures: there is tannin and grip like a red wine, but less weight and density. The palate is enlivened with the mineral, mouthwatering acidity and tension of a white wine.

This best-of-both worlds feel is not surprising: orange wine is essentially white made using the principles you’d use to make a red. The key is the skins: whereas most white wines are separated from their skins and pips immediately after the grapes are pressed, orange wines take grapes used for white wine and, like a red, leave them macerating in contact with their skins.

It’s how most white wines used to be made but its renaissance is relatively recent, driven by pioneers such as Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon in Friuli, north-east Italy. Disenchanted by the overly technical approach of modern winemaking, they began experimenting in the 1990s with long macerations using, in Gravner’s case, clay amphorae. The arrestingly different wines they made spawned imitators in his home region and across the border in Slovenia. Along with Georgia, where the style is also enjoying a revival, those regions remain the source of the best orange wines. But adventurous producers around the world are also beginning to experiment.

Not all of them are successful: orange winemaking is more risky. And you get the sense that many producers are still learning to master what is still, despite its ancient roots, a new technique.

Done right, a good orange wine’s combination of textures works well when matching with food. There’s substance enough for meat, the freshness required for fish – and the combination of the two makes them among the best I’ve come across for aged hard cheese.

The wines might take a bit of getting used to – and since they’re usually made in small quantities by small producers they don’t come cheap. But if you’re curious, try a glass in a natural wine bar before committing to a bottle – and keep an open mind.

Read more

Read more

Wednesday Whine

CabSavEspiritudeChileEspiritu de Chile – Aresti Winery

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reservado

Rio Claro, Valle Central


I couldn’t find any reference on the net to this wine; sorry, the photo is terrible, my fault.

Aromas: black currants, wild fruit and vanilla.

Temp: 16 – 18ºC

Food parings: red meat, venison, game and mature cheeses.

Espiritu de Chile Homepage in English


What goes between Wine and Beer?

That was what I asked myself while making the parsley sauce for my poached fish lunch.

Wednesday is wine day, Friday is beer day, what goes in between?

Why, cheese…


Wednesday Whine

Hidden away in the dusty reaches of my wine box behind the front door I found…


My bottle is 2009

In true wine cellar form, the bottle did indeed need dusting.

Logo_CDD_avec_blason_transp_BDSouthern Rhône Valley, France

You can read the history on their site. English

The wine is untried. I am saving it for a ‘special’ occasion; which may turn out to be a rainy day.

Serving: Between 14°C  And 15°C

Flavours: Fruity and vegetable

Food pairings: BBQ chicken, salads, pizzas, pork and beef

Wednesday Whine

Yes, I know it’s Thursday… again.

I’ll try again next week to get it right.

This week’s peek into my wine rack I found two bottles of the same wine.

Rouge de France

Rouge de France

Cuvée Brouchard Aîné

Rouge de France

Grape types: A blend based mainly on  Syrah and Gamay.

Food pairings: Ideal with red meats, grilled meats, spicy dishes, wild game and cream cheeses.

Source: Brouchard Aîné for more info

My view: Fits in the pocket R$25 and tastes good with BBQ, that’s why I bought another two bottles.

I can’t be wrong, because this wine is considered the ‘ambassador’ of Cuvée Brouchard.