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Monday 23 November 2009

Wine With That, Sir?

This blog is all for a bit of feedback, so when my recent thoughts on the supermarket industry away from home were commented on with an emphasis on wine, that gave a very useful pointer.

There are signs in supermarkets that are characteristic to the country in which they are based: the Spanish love their jamón, the French their cheese and paté, and the Portuguese their salt cod, or bacalhau (along with the joke about there being 365 recipes for the stuff). Then there is the wine.

The French (still) major in their own produce here, but then they would, wouldn’t they? Even so, the alcohol advertising ban (why Wales’ rugby shirts can’t advertise Brains’ beers when they play there), and the hated Australian and US produce have taken the edge off sales. Fortunately, some French producers “get it” that we the consumers tend to like wine that is of a predictable standard and good for opening and drinking, well, now. Hence the proliferation of single varietal wines, mainly from the Oc. Buy Couleurs du Sud or Roche Mazet (their Merlot is particularly good) and you get decent value, while knowing it won’t be a let down.

Spain also does a good trade in home produced wine, but, like election results, we tend to find out about only a very few of them. So apart from Rioja (and other Tempranillo based stuff) and perhaps Valdepeñas, this is not known in the UK. So we don’t know that the Madrid region produces some cracking reds – not unless we go shopping in Madrid, that is.

What of Portugal? Well, again, we know very little in the UK, barring Vinho Verde, Dão and of course Mateus bloody Rosé. This is a great pity, because in recent years there has been the development of regional wines: Alentejo, Extremadura, Lisbon region, and of course Douro Valley (where the port comes from) among them. And a good Douro red is in the stonkingly good category. Trusht me.

On wine, as with much else, we still have a lot to learn about Europe. Not a bad subject to major in, mind.

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