Sunday, October 13, 2019

9 Tips How To Drink Better And Cheaper

This was the topic of my ‘Lightning Talk’ at the conference. These are five minute talks, which are supported by 20 slides. They get moved forward every 15 seconds. These talks are half humorous, half serious. Mine was as follows:

I will share with you 9 tips how to drink better and cheaper. First to the whites.

1) You are bored with Sauvignon Blanc. You wonder why Pinot Grigio is more expensive than water. Other White varieties ending with ‘o’ are hit and miss. Try Grüner Veltliner - a more interesting palate at the same price point. Pair Grüner Veltliner with salad or white fish. The spices match lightly spiced Thai food really well, too.

2) You like dry German Riesling, but you are concerned about the sweetness in many wines. Try Silvaner from Franken instead. Interesting texture and minerality instead of fruit. It comes in a great Boxbeutel bottle. The only challenge for English speakers is the pronunciation. And Silvaner is a lot cheaper.

3) We are in the Hunter. I need to talk about Semillon. I am not a big fan of young Semillon, to be truthful. But I suggest you put a few bottles down - 10 years at least. Mature Semillon is a perfect match with tuna steak.

4) To the reds: You like Burgundy, but it is a bit expensive for most of us. Try serious cru Beaujolais. I suggest the M-subregions: Moulin-à-vent or Morgon. Wines from there can be deep coloured and silky. Don’t be fooled by the Beaujolais Nouveau craze and the fact the grape is Gamay. These wines can be as good as Burgundies.

5) And don’t be silly and buy Bordeaux. The Chinese have deeper pockets. Margaret River Cabernet is at least as good at 1/3rd to 1/10th of the price. From Cullen and Moss Wood at the top of the tree to the great value Domaine Naturaliste and anything in between.

6) And go for #2. The smart Americans in the audience know not to buy Napa Cabernet, of course, and instead look for beautiful Syrah or Rhône blends up and down California’s coast. I love Dumol, for example. If you like Australian Shiraz, mature some from the Hunter rather than South Australia. As these wines age, the tannins in South Australian Shiraz can get blocky and dull, whereas good Hunter Shiraz develops in their tannins a beautiful velvety character.

7) The craziest thing is that most wineries put their ripest grapes into their flagship wines turning them into alcoholic monsters. You can only drink one glass. And who can sit on that for a whole evening? So instead, buy mid-level wines. If you are thinking Torbreck, for example, for Shiraz, buy the Gask, not the Factor; for Grenache, buy The Steading, not Les Amis. This will save you a lot of money.

8) Even crazier is Rioja. The large wineries put their best grapes into the Reserva. Then they overwhelm them with oak, so you can't taste the fruit. Instead, buy the younger and cheaper Crianzas or wine outside the regulations. There is plenty to choose from, and these wines are actually enjoyable.

9) Be curious! There are fantastic red table wines to be had from Portugal and Uruguay. Quinta do Crasto and Bodega Garzon are examples.

If you follow these nine suggestions, you drink better and for a lot less money.

 The Opening Night at Brokenwood

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