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Simples placeres


When I was about to write this post, it took me a while to decide in which category I should put it: “Wine”? “Mains”? “Dessert”? or..may be “Breakfast”?? Perfect for any!!

Here we are talking about the best combination on this planet: jamon + Manchego cheese + red wine = simples! Or simples placeres (/simples platheres/ – as the Spainsh say). If you are depressed, frustrated, pissed off, tired or upset, this will make you appreciate life again within minutes! If you are happy and satisfied, a bite of manchego and jamon, followed by a sip of a wonderful spanish wine will put a smile on your face and will be a confirmation that it was STILL a good thing to be born on This planet!

That night I felt like I needed some love.

I stopped at a cosy little wine&cheese shop and, to my pleasant surprise, found an exceptional selection of wine there! A few days before my best friend Ana Fernandez Marin brought me some jamon from Spain. The

thought of that made my mouth water. I automatically moved to the shelf labelled SPAIN. I like Spanish wine (Tempranillo and Garnacha are the most popular types you will find in the shops). However, sometimes the taste of these wines is too strong for me (too much tannin!). A new label caught my eye – PACHECO, 2009, 14% alcohol (dangerous;-),  produced in Murcia – exactly where Ana is from! And, most important, interesting grapes combination: Shiraz and  Monastrell…I am curious now! Price: £8.99. I grabbed it without hesitation (lets see!).

To make a cheese choice when Manchego is on the menu is a piece of cake. In the basket. Called Alberto and asked to take jamon out of the fridge (you have to keep it in a warm place for some 15 minutes before eating. When warm, the cheese releases all the aromas and  tastes better than just out of the fridge).

Without further ado, my dear ladies and gentlemen, that  was THE feast! The wine turned out to be absolutely fabulous! It was a perfect match to manchego and jamon, very easy to drink (despite 14% alco), smooth… we were totally in 7th heaven!!!

You can buy PACHECO 2009 online here. Check Borough market for manchego and jamon and… enjoy the true and simple pleasures! 😉

To find out about the wine sold in the UK click here.

If you want to start learning more about wine,  find some tips here.

I will repeat once again: Life is too short to drink bad wine! Puurrr 🙂

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Georgian wine: Bagrationi


“P-A-M! Ufffff..” – Bagrationi speaking!

A few days ago we had a reason to celebrate. I put Bagrationi in the fridge. Not like we need a “reason” to have a glass of sparkling, but it happened that Bagrationi “survived” until this special occasion. Tadaaammm time to open!

First of all, it was quite hard to do it! We had to play with the bottle for a while until we managed to! “The opening” was really loud! The way it should be, I thought 😉

Got the glasses from the freezer, filled and… MMMMM…  What a lovely smell!! Happy, fresh and nutty! Incredibly pleasant “bubbly” taste! I absolutely loved it. Professional describe it like this: “Light and enticing nose of baked lemon pie and a dash of almond. Superb balance and an elegant mouthfeel with simple and pure fruit. Medium-long finish.” (Well, they do have a great imagination, those professionals! hehe)

This bottle of Bagrationi Reserve Brut was made in 2007 It combines Chinuri, Tsitska and Mtsvane grapes from the Kartli and Imereti regions of Georgia.

It was an increadibly pleasant experience. I’ve been craving Bagrationi for the last a few days since I tried it and I think the new “georgian wine” order is to be made soon!

Try it an tell me what you think!

Chin Chin 🙂


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Georgian wine: Tsinandali


Another bottle – uncorked. And …. mmmmm  – my second wine feedback (descriptive enough, init?:)

I am continuing my Georgian wine saga I started with the gorgeous MUKUZANI. Now it is the turn of Tsinandali – a dry white wine. It is made from a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes and comes from the Telavi and Kvareli area of Kakheti.

The sources say this wine is fermented at cool temperatures and matured for two to three years. They say Tsinandali can be aged for a further five years, however, it is recommended that the wine be consumed within the first two years.

My bottle was produced in 2005 and …. bottled (?)  in 2007, so almost 5 years…I guess it was the right time to drink it! 😛

My main impression is …. an amazing apples smell. It took me back to my childhood when I could bury my face in the basket full of apples picked in my grand dad’s garden…mmmm!  Other characteristics: very pleasant taste, easy to drink, light wine.

Nice with cheese and “fishy” dishes.

Produced by Teliani Valley:

Recommend!

And here is an amazing Georgian dance for you! 😉


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Georgian wine: Mukuzani


WOW.

WOW.WOW.WOW.

This is my first Georgian wine feedback. I promised earlier I share my wine experience and here you go!

I ordered a six bottles box of wine from the Georgian Wine Society last week.  At that time my main emotion was curiosity. Now, one bottle later, I am surprised, amazed  and … incredibly pleased with my decision and experience!

But first a little excursion in the georgian wine world. When I told my  Italian husband that I was ordering Georgian wine he said: “What? Georgian? Why?” Obviously, for Italians, everything that is NOT Italian is not good enough: shoes, clothes, food… and especially when it comes to wine….wine must be Italian – no question about that! To be fair I have to say they are often right…;) But here it was my turn to show (off) my erudition: “My dear, actually Georgia IS the motherland of winemaking! They started as early as 80000 years ago – the first on the planet!” 😛

I think I had tasted Georgian wine only once – in my early years – and the only thing I remembered was  that it was sweet, like a church wine. It was my only experience. Unfortunately Russia and Georgia are  not the best friends these days 😦 and as a result the Georgian wine is not welcome there any more. When I discovered this wine here in the UK I decided to order a few bottles and finally find out what this wine is about. I got:

  • Bagrationi Reserve Brute (Sparkling white)
  • Tsinandali (Dry White)
  • Napareuli (Dry Red)
  • Khvanchkara (Semisweet red)
  • Rkatsiteli (White dry)
  • Mukuzani (Red dry)

Last night it was time for a MUKUZANI one to be tasted.
The bottle said it was produced in 2004 and had aromas of “ripen wild cherry, almonds and vanilla. Lets see…

When I smelled it the first time I said:

WOW.
WOW. WOW. WOW.

The smell of this wine reminded  me about one absolutely gorgeous wine I drank in the south of Italy, in Salento: a blend of Malvasia Nera and Nagroamaro. Because this wine doesn’t exist in London I never even hoped to get anything similar before I am in Salento again.

Despite my (basic) wine education, I have difficulty to describe the characteristics of wine. But I will try.

MUKUZANI is a 13%  wine with a deep red colour. It has a very strong pleasant aroma (If they produced a perfume with this smell, I would be the first to buy). I would call it a smell of ripen fruit.  It is so amazing that you just cant stop smelling and almost forget about drinking :-). I would also describe this wine as medium bodied with the medium tannins. It simply means that the wine is not very heavy, quite easy to drink. What is tannins? Tannins is some component found in the grape’s skin and seed. To get a better idea, bite a grape seed and you’ll have a “taste” of tannins in you mouth. In some wines is can be a bit “too much”, but in MUKUZANI tannins is just perfectly balanced. One more thing. There is a sediment at the bottom of this wine. You dont have to worry about it – it is normal for the wine that have been aged to many years.

This wine is produced of Saperavi grape in Mukuzani – a wine place in Georgia. It is aged in oak casks for at least 3 years.

I have a feeling some Georgian cooking is coming to accompany these gorgeous wines! 😉


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Your wine Journey


Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen. I recently received some positive feedback on my Life is too short to drink bad wine! post. I was told it was very useful and informative. I was pleased. However, I also received some fair criticism! “Where are the tips and advice?!” – one for curious Amazing readers said. “Not a £5…not a supermarket offer…then what??”.

Fair enough. From now on I am going to share with you some tips and … simply my own experience. I would also be happy to hear about yours – because we learn from each other.

I became interested in wine a few years ago. At some point I realised that drinking wine is a bit like reading books: you look forward, have great expectations, and then either they make you happy and satisfied or disappoint you. The most interesting books we may read many times, they become our friends 🙂

My first step to learn about the wine was a big fat book Grapes&Wines by Oz Clarke.

It was a present from my friends. I really liked it, it was very informative. Still on my shelf and I reread it from time to time.

My second step was to take a Wine and Spirit Education Trust course. I think WSET is a number 1 educational body in the wine and spirits field. All the wine professionals study there. Its doors are open for the amateurs as well. There is a gazillion of various study options. If you have plenty of money and limited time, you go to school and take classes. When you have little money and plenty of time or just want to study at your own pace, you can take an on-line course. That was what I did.  It is basically the same as an “off-line” but you have to buy all the wine and try it by yourself. That was what I did (with the help of my friends 😉 .

Of course it is better to attend the classes where you can interact with the teachers and ask all your questions, but if you dont have this opportunity, I would suggest you take an online course and go to as many wine tastings as possible. And here we come to the third step – wine tasting!

Wine tasting is the most important thing in all this wine journey. Why? Ask yourself “Why do I want to learn about the wine?”. Two answer options are possible:
1. If the answer is: “I want to develop a wine taste. I want to be able to recognise when the wine is faulty and when it is good and stop poisoning myself. I want to discover a new pleasure in life”. Then you should just simply start trying as many good wines as possible.
2. If the answer is: “I want to know as much as possible about wine, so that I could show off a bit in the company of my friends and to have a “gourmet reputation” – then carry on with the books!

And now please get ready for the main part of today’s post! I am gonna say smth really important for you aways have in mind!

If your answer to the question  “Why do I want to learn about the wine?” is the first option, the first thing you need to do is to start drinking good wine! This is really really important because you need to start setting up the benchmarks! If the book or the online course tells you to try Pinot Noir from New Zealand, dont go to Sainsbury’s to buy the cheapest half price Pinot Noir. If you do, you learn nothing and only get a headache instead! If you drink the cheapest poor quality wines you will never learn how this or that wine should actually taste!

You should learn what is GOOD first. Then you will be able to recognise when it is bad.

Of course there can be different situation is our life. Sometimes we have to drink the wine of not the best quality. But if you have your benchmark, you won’t do it too often, trust me. For example, now I am not gonna drink Blossom Hill or Gallo
even if you pay me! (It wasnt always like that. Litres of Blossom Hill were consumed  by Marie and myself at Adelphi pub in Preston when we were students and at the Bedford later, before I realised B & G were the reasons of my memory loss and “extravagant” behaviour ;-).
Your today’s homework, my dear Amazing reader, is to Become Fussy about the Wine you Drink!
Some tips to start with:
1. Develop a new habit to buy wine in the independent wineshops instead of supermarkets.
2. Make friends with the shop assistant or the owner. Tell him honestly what you want and your budget. If you dont have £20 to spend for a bottle today, ask him what the best £10 option is on sale. Usually they value the customers and give honest recommendations.
3. Google wine tastings in your area. They usually cost around 20 pounds and you have a chance to try many different wines (often combined with cheese).
And the most important…Relax! Smile! Take it seriously but not too seriously – remember that you are on this trip to have fun and enjoy! 🙂 
Bon voyage and I will keep you posted!


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Life is too short to drink bad wine!


I came across this article on BBC website recently, called: “Drink a day ‘raises cancer risk”. The article was warning people that “A glass of wine each evening is enough to increase your risk of developing cancer”. This statement was supported by a research conducted by Cancer Research UK,  which showed that: “Consuming just one drink a day causes an extra 7,000 cancer cases – mostly breast cancer – among the UK women each year.”

The wine in the UK issue has been bothering me already for a while. It is expensive and on top of that the quality of the popular and affordable wine sold in the UK leaves much to be desired! I knew something was fishy about the wine and I started my investigation.

Before you do your next wine shopping:

  • you will know the actual cost of a bottle of wine (you can see who is actually making all the money),
  • you will be aware HOW the supermarkets manage to sell you cheap and bad wine and make you feel great about your purchase,
  • and you will know why you really shouldn’t buy a £5 wine!

First, lets have a look at a price of a bottle of wine.

Lets imagine a wine merchant buying a case of wine from USA for the price $50 per case of 12. According to the current exchange rate it costs him £2.71 per bottle. Could he retail it for £5? Probably. But look at the horrendous UK taxes and you will have to double the retail price!

OK, lets do some maths now.

Lets add 40p per bottle shipping cost = 3.11
UK excise duty for wine – one of the highest in the world – is 1.81 pence per bottle.
Plus 5 pence for the wine from outside the EU = 5.42.
Now lets add the VAT 1.08 = 6.50.
The average supermarket’s margin is 40%. 6.50 + 40% = 9.10

And what if the supermarket buys the wine from the reseller? Than his margin and his VAT will have to be included…

Let me guess what you are thinking! Mmmm This is exactly the kind of wine I usually buy! The only thing is Im lucky to find great offers in the supermarkets, like 3 bottle for 10 pounds or 50% discounts for the £10 bottle of wine.

Let me explain you how it works:

Firstly for these offers to qualify legally as a genuine half price deal, the wine has to have been on sale at one branch for at least two weeks at it’s “full” price. What they do is: they keep this wine for 2 weeks on a bottom row out of sight in some remote store at double price. So that in 2 weeks they can offer you a great half price deal.

If the supermarket price is £5 after all the taxes, shipping, labeling, bottling, shop margin… the real cost of this wine in some cases can be as little as 5p. Obviously this is not a good wine but cheap plonk full of chemicals.

Would you eat a 5p. meat?

Going back to the article reporting the Cancer UK research results. This article really pissed me off. I was very tempted to pick up the phone, call Cancer Research UK and ask: a glass of WHAT wine causes that? Is it a glass of amazing Negroamaro carefully grown on the Italian vineyards? Even the smell of this wine fills you with happiness. Every time you sip it your body says THANK YOU! Or is it a glass of cheap stuff good enough for a school chemistry lesson?

Dont get me wrong, I am not a snob. I don’t spit out wine at the wine tastings. No. I just want the wine to fill me with happiness, not to poison me.

Bad news: Because the UK excise duty on wine keeps going up (it is going to be increased 2% each year till 2015), the supermarkets keep mastering their skills to sell more wine.

Good news: its up to you where you shop for wine and how much you pay. You can always find wine societies on-line or go to the independent wine shops which often will offer you better quality wines and good advice. Pay a bit more.

Life is too short to drink bad wine, Ladies and Gentlemen!