A couple of weeks ago was London Wine Week and after seeing a post on The Mayfairy that completely summed up how I would usually select a wine myself and Emma decided to join Frankie for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s (WSET) educational course Wine Bluff to Wine Buff. Tickets were just £20 and included three wines as well as nibbles to complement them which I thought was a great deal. The event was held at Hixter Bankside basement bar which was a much bigger venue than I expected.
Upon arrival we were greeted with a sparkling wine and cherry cocktail which was probably my favourite wine of the evening (maybe not something I should admit to) and introduced to wine connoisseur Michelle who I’m pretty sure knows everything there is to know about pairing wine with food.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that of the three wines we would be tasting that evening two of them were red which I just do not like. That said my palate has definitely changed over the last couple of years so I was interested to try some and see if it had changed in that respect too.
Before that though we were instructed to peel a grape setting the skin, stem and fruit aside separately before tasting each part. The fruit was of course very sweet and juicy, the skin slightly more bitter and finally the stem absolutely disgusting – there was no point behind this part whatsoever other than Michelle getting a good giggle over people doing exactly what she tells them haha.
Having made us look pretty silly once she then proceeded to do it again, this time getting us to place a small paper strip in our mouths. This actually did have a purpose and was an indication of our taste-buds tolerances. If you hated it you probably weren’t too keen on strong tastes but if you were like me and didn’t mind it you had a much stronger taste tolerance.
Finally it was time for the wine and first up was the only white on the list a Tramshed Chardonnay, Domaine d’Antugnac, Limoux, France. Naturally this was my favourite and I could happily have drained my glass right there and then! But I was there to learn about how wine interacts with other flavours so I paced myself. Next we were asked to try the same wine but only after placing a little bit of lemon in our mouths. The difference that this made to the wine was amazing, the flavours completely changed and it was a great example of how a well chosen wine can compliment a meal. We did the same again with salt which was particularly interesting to me as I see it as the opposite of what should go with wine.
WSET had also teamed up with Hixter to provide us with food pairings to complement the chosen wines and we were given some delicious potted smoked salmon on Corrigan’s soda bread to go with the chardonnay. I really enjoyed this and could really see how the light, crisp wine complemented the salmon.
Next up was the first of the reds; Chianti Classico ‘Retromarcia’, Monte Bernari, Tuscany, Italy which I’m sorry to say did not change my views on red wine in the slightest. The flavour was slightly improved by the addition of salt on my tongue but I still wasn’t a fan. The Spiced Sillifeild Farm sausages with mustard on the otherhand got a big thumbs up!
Something strange happened with the final wine, a Malbec ‘La Flor’, Pulenta Estate, Mendoza, Argentia. When paired with the buttermilk chicken wings with holy fff… mayonnaise (and another does of salt) I actually found this to be drinkable. That’s not to say that I enjoyed it but more that I didn’t hate it and that, in my limited experience with red wine, was pretty impressive. It was quite a heavy wine, almost creamy so you wouldn’t want to drink too much of it at once.
I headed straight back to my chardonnay to “cleanse my palate” of the red wines as Michelle gave us some final words of wisdom; choosing a great wine isn’t about knowing all of the different grapes, brands and places but knowing what flavours you personally enjoy. I like a sweet wine preferably rosé and I love White Zinfandel in particular, sometimes if I’m in a restaurant that doesn’t offer this (or shock horror doesn’t offer ANY pink wine whatsoever) I’ll have a bit of a panic when actually I should just trust in the knowledge of the sommelier – after all that’s what they’re there for!
It was a really great night not least due to some great company. I’m not going to be drinking any more red wine any time soon but it was a nice affirmation of the fact that I really don’t like the stuff and to be honest I’ll probably still be picking my bottles based on the price and whether or not there’s a cat on the label. You should also read Frankie and Emma’s accounts of the evening given that they actually blogged about the event in a much more timely manner than I did!
BitBS Rating – ££