Do you remember your first time….? I do, very vividly. It was back in the year 2000, I was only 20. I was excited and intrigued, I had my first Oh My God moment, I was blown away and thought you’re coming home with me. A bottle of the red wine that was in my glass that is!
I was on a date with a guy a few years older than me, he had travelled the world and worked in some of the best restaurants in New York and LA. It was the first time I was wined and dined in a posh restaurant.
The sommelier (wine waiter) approached our table, my date ordered a glass of white for our starter and a bottle of red for our main. I remember saying ‘I don’t like red wine it tastes like vinegar.’ He kind of sniggered and said, ‘If you don’t like it I’ll order another white for you’, I gave it a try.
I remember the sommelier making a song & dance over the wine, the crisp white linen cloth over his arm, the presentation of the label to check the producer and vintage, the removal of the foil, carefully popping the cork, pouring a sample into the large fancy glassware and all the drama of the swirling and sniffing. I was not impressed, I thought my date and the sommelier were complete snobs and wanted to get out of there!
However, he explained how swirling the glass allowed the wine to breathe. The aromas were released, that is when the wine captured me, my senses were awakened. It was very pale in colour, with ripe juicy red berry aromas, no vinegar detected at all. I eventually tasted the wine and it was delicious, light in body but with so much complexity, mixed red berries and layers of savoury notes, it was soft and smooth, and the flavours lingered on for ages. It was my first incredible gastronomical experience.
That was 20 years ago, it was a defining moment in my life, it opened up the world of wine to me, transforming me from an occasional wine drinker to a passionate wine lover. The wine was Saintsbury’s Carneros Californian Pinot Noir (not the supermarket). As Dermot Nolan Master of Wine (TheWineLibrary.ie) says ‘They are still my favourite Californian pinot producer’.
Just like a song can remind you of a special time, like your summer Inter-railing or your wedding day. Aromas alone can arouse something deep inside. We all have a library bank of aromas that can evoke a memory, but sometimes we forget to access it. Imagine the smell of fresh cut grass, homemade bread, warm apple pie, granny’s homemade stew, freshly roasted coffee, coconut sun-cream, your mothers favourite perfume, fresh laid tarmac, new school books, or the turf bog from The Gaeltacht. These aromas can trigger your olfactory senses and you can be transported back to a specific moment in time.
On the next occasion you enjoy a glass of wine, close your eyes, mindfully explore your senses; what aromas can you detect on the nose, sight; describe the colour is it pale or opulent, feel; the texture in your mouth is it light or rich and velvety and finally pay attention to the taste, the wine swirling around in your mouth how does it taste? No two palates are the same, we are all unique beings with our sensual desires but the one thing we have in common is seeking pleasure, happiness and fulfilment.
Do you remember your first time trying a wine that moved you? I hope that if you sample my suggestions they bring you some pleasure and joy. These wines are not 1st growths commanding thousands of euro. They are simply good quality wines that make me happy and make me smile.
I wrote about Vigneti del Salento ‘I Muri’ Negroamaro 2016, over 7 years ago. Until then I wasn’t crazy about Italian wines. The majority I had tried were very dry, acidic and had bitter cherry flavours, not to mention confusing grape varieties and regions. This wine altered by opinion. It is now stocked in so many great stores which proves its popularity.
This is a wine from Puglia, the heel of Italy. It’s made from a local grape, Negroamaro, which is virtually seen nowhere else. Ripe luscious aromas of mixed berries, loganberries, figs, and subtle hints of mocha. On the palate the nose is echoed with juicy ripe mixed fruit and figs. It has a medium body, with soft smooth velvety tannins. It is opulent and moreish. The bottle manages to empty itself. Enjoy it on its own or with beef or cheese.
Stockists: Andersons, Bradleys, Clonakilty SuperValu, Donnybrook Fair, Drink Store, J J O’Driscoll, La Touche Wines, Londis Malahide, Mannings Emporium, Martins Off Licence, Matson’s Wine Store, McHughs Off Licence, Morton’s of Ranelagh, Power & Co Fine Wines, Sweeneys, The Cinnamon Cottage, The Vintry, The Wine Centre Kilkenny, Vanilla Grape, World Wide Wines Approx. Price €16.00
Most well-known for their red wines, I have chosen Esporāo Branco Reserva DOC Alentejo 2016 a stunning white wine from the Alentejano region in Southern Portugal. Made with indigenous grapes; Antão Vaz and Arinto this is a superb wine. Every year they commission a different artist to design their wine label. That might be part of the reason Dermot Bannon (RTE’s Room to Improve) enjoys this wine and said it is one of his favourites too.
An aromatic nose of ripe pear, peach and tropical pineapple with hints of lemon curd. This wine is very expressive with subtle hints of creaminess and spice due to the use of both French and American oak. On the palate it is elegant with a smooth texture, with citrus lemon and freshly squeezed orange notes, it has a freshness about it. I have enjoyed this wine on its or with roast chicken and lemon. It is a perfectly balanced wine.
Stockists: 64 Wine; Baggot Street Wines; Egans Off Licence, Portlaoise; Gibneys, Malahide; Higgins of Clonskeagh; Jus De Vine, Portmarnock; Kellys Wine Vault, Clontarf; Martins, Fairview; On The Grapevine, Dalkey; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2. Approx. Price €22.00
Beronia Tempranillo elaboracion especial Rioja 2015
A well rounded intense Tempranillo aged in American oak for 9 months, which gives pronounced strawberry and bramble aromas and intense flavours. This wine is complex with layers of fruit and notes of vanilla, the wine is soft and creamy but structured grippy tannins which means it can be paired perfectly with lamb or beef or Spanish cured meats. Decanted for a while it can be delicious with good quality dark chocolate too.
Stockists: Kingdom Food and Wine Store, Tralee, Co. Kerry; Lilac Wines, Fairview; Mortons, Ranelagh; No 21 Off Licence, Ballincollig, Co. Cork; No 21 Off Licence, Cobury Street, Co. Cork; No 21 Off Licence, The Glen, Co. Waterford; Sweeneys, Glasnevin; The Vineyard, Kanturk, Co. Cork; WinesofTheWorld.ie. Approx. Price €18.50
Quady Elysium Black Muscat 2015 California
Elysium meaning Heaven in Greek – perfect name for this sweet beauty. A delightful sweet wine that is just incredible paired with dark chocolate brownie and raspberry coulis, poured over vanilla ice cream or with a strong blue cheese. Almost black in colour it has rose like aromas but has rich dark cherry and dried fruit flavours. A must try if you have a sweet tooth.
Stockists: 64 Wines; Gibneys, Malahide; JNWine.com; Lilac Wines, Fairview. Approx. Price €16.50 for 375ml bottle.
Hi, I am Lynda Coogan owner of Wine Tasting Ireland, I am delighted to be part of The Taste team where I can passionately share my love and knowledge of wine with you. I hold a WSET Diploma in wine, I have ten years’ experience in the wine trade and I am a member of the Guild of Sommeliers. Wine Tasting Ireland, specialises in hosting fun, interactive wine tastings for groups. I believe that by going back to basics, wine can be appreciated by everyone, a little knowledge goes a long way! We come to you, bring all that’s needed to set up a unique, bespoke wine tasting event in your offices, your home or any venue. They are ideal for team building at work, a social gathering or a special occasion. I would love to hear from you, so please get in touch.