What Do Beer and Wine Labels Say About You?

Beer

The beer or wine label you choose to go with says a lot about your personality. It will send a message to the other party goers about what kind of a person you are. This infographic by Label Value goes over the different types of personality types associated with each alcoholic beverage.

The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Wine

The Ultimate Guide to Vintage Wine

Ever seen yourself as a bit of a wine collector? Perhaps you want to impress your friends with your vintage wine collection? Whatever your reason for wanting to learn more about vintage wine, it’s an interesting (and delicious) subject. In this ultimate guide I’ve put together everything you need to know about vintage wines. When to buy them, when to store them, and when to drink them. Most importantly.

Red Wine

Let’s kick off with everyone’s favourite. Red wine is a collectors dream, that can quickly turn into a nightmare. Knowing when to lay down your wine (posh speak for storing it away) and when to drink it, will ensure no mishaps at your next dinner party. Here are some of the most popular wines and years, to get you started.

  • Burgundy – If you have any bottles before 1988 bin them now. They’re past their best. Anything from 1988 until 2000 is well worth opening at your next dinner party. With 2005 being the best vintage full stop. Although you can still let it lay for another year or two if you own a bottle.
  • Rioja – Everyone loves a good Spanish Rioja. The recent batches are some of the best, so are well worth buying up and keeping hold of. Some of the nicest vintages can be found on sites such as http://www.nicks.com.au – so, stock up and let them lay.  If you want something to drink right away then look for a 1994 bottle where possible. You can even go back as far as 1987 if you really want to show off.

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Photo from Flickr

White Wine

Now the sunshine is out, most people prefer to drink white as opposed to read. It goes down a treat with a barbecue! There have been some incredible years for some of our favourite whites. However, there have also been some pretty awful years. Here are some of the best wines and vintages for white wine.

  • Burgundy – The Cote D’Or version of the red, this white wine had one of its best years in 2010. If you can get hold of a bottle let it lay for another year or two. Anything from 1992 onward is pretty much ready to drink, so ditch any bottles before that year.
  • Chablis – This white wine seems to last the test of time a little longer than the Burgundy. If you have any bottles from 1990 then you’re in luck. From then on you’re fine up until 2004. Except any batch from 1994, that’s already turned bad.

Port

Want to stock up on some vintage port for Christmas? It may seem a million miles away, but it’s worth being prepared. Fortified wine lasts a lot longer than other bottles, which means you can go pretty far back without it going bad. Even bottles from 1983 could be stored for a little longer before being their best. One of the greatest vintages of port was served up in 2010. Leave this in your wine rack for a while and it’ll be one Christmas drink to remember. Can’t wait that long? Find yourself a bottle from 1994, for a great vintage.

So, which vintage wines will you be stocking up on? You can keep up to date with what’s good (and what’s not) using a vintage wine chart. Check the bottles you already own and gauge when they’ll be at their very best.

Is It Really Possible To Make Your Own Wine, And Would You Want To?

Is It Really Possible To Make Your Own Wine, And Would You Want To?

Living in the UK, I’m prone to a mixed bag of weather. Certainly not the warm and sunny climates that my bottles from Italy and France have enjoyed! Still, it seems that more and more Brits are making their own wine. It seems even the Romans were able to make good use of the little sunshine we do get each year. There is a lot of equipment needed, but it could be good fun to try it out!

Grape vines are surprisingly easy to grow. Plant them next to a wall, and use some supporting string or trellis to help keep them upright. You need more width than height as they like to spread out. Of course, finding space for enough vines to provide adequate quantities of grapes might be tricky in the city! You need to harvest about six kilograms of fruit to press for wine.

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The source of this image is Flickr

Once you have your fruit, and you have pressed it, you are still a few weeks away from enjoying a nice drink. Fermentation and clearing take a little while. You may want to wait up to a year before enjoying the wine. But for many trying this out for the first time, you’ll probably want a glass as soon as possible. There are no guarantees it will taste as good as you hope, but for a bit of fun it could be worth a go!

Of course, there are many other fruits you can use for drinks, jams and cooking. If you visit a website like http://www.pomonafruits.co.uk/, you may be quite surprised to see just how many different types of fruit you can grow. Most fruits can be grown in pots or hanging baskets. This means less back breaking digging and more munching on yummy crops of fresh fruit. Fruit trees have always interested me. Finding out just how many species of fruit trees I could choose from has got me thinking about it even more.

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The source of this image is Flickr too

If you’ve never grown fruit before, you might want to start with strawberry plants. They are incredibly easy to grow and can be planted almost anywhere. If you don’t fancy getting down on your knees in the dirt, you could plant them in hanging baskets and let the fruit and leaves cascade down. Raised flower beds can be really good for fruit or vegetable growing too. If you’ve only got a little terrace or courtyard, why not try planting in some decorative pots to brighten up the area?

It is possible to make homemade wine with almost any kind of berry. You must keep everything the wine touches sterile to avoid illness. One recipe from the internet calls for sixteen cups of fruit, two cups of honey, one packet of yeast and filtered water. Sounds simple. Of course, the fermentation of the fruits takes a bit of effort. And the waiting… I could open up a lot of shop bought bottles of wine in that time! Still, for a bit of fun, and to make something of homegrown fruit crops, it could still be worth a try.

Planning A Stylish Dinner Party

I recently had a fantastic dinner party with my friends and family. The reason I think it was so good was because I was able to take part in the majority of the fun, eating and drinking, not been stranded as hosts usually are, in the kitchen. Below I am going to share some of my top dinner party tips, so hopefully you can replicate it and have a fantastic evening too.

A stylish dinner party doesn’t have to be all about trying to out do another host, or spending five days learning how to create the perfect swan from a napkin. It’s about time, and how much of it you can devote to your guests. That is the true key to the whole event. If you don’t spend enough time with the people, you invite you may as well have not invited them in the first place.

Theme

Chose a theme for your party. If the majority of your friends work in the city in the week, give them a break by doing something a little more fun like a fancy dress party. I chose an Oscars themed event where the boys came in suits, and the girls wore dresses. It set the tone for the evening. This allowed me to choose the correct add ons for the table and dining room, as well as the music – I chose some classic movie soundtracks from iTunes. If you don’t want to be bothered with venue dressing, you can get companies to help you do it.

Plan

If you want to have a stylish evening and you are feeling creative why not make some handmade invitation letters, they are fairly simple. However if creativity is not really up your street, you can buy some ornate and fancy ones from places such as Etsy. Another great tip is to ask if anyone has any dietary requirements on the invite. This way you won’t find out mid-way through your starter than one of your friends can’t have milk. Buy lots of candles or tealights, they are much more stylish than standard lighting and make the evening seem more intimate.

Food

Now you know how many guests to expect and what foods they will/won’t eat its time to decide on the food. My best advice is to select things that you had made before and made well. Many of my friends have tried to accomplish something crazy they saw on a cookery show, only for it to go wrong and end up ordering take away. Chose something that you know how to make well, and if possible pick something you can prepare/make the previous day to maximise your time with your guests.

Drinks

Drinks are a tough one to get right. I usually let the theme dictate it somewhat. For our Oscars evening, it was all champagne. On one of my other evenings, punch was more fitting. If in doubt though, let your guests bring a bottle, at least the will have something to drink that they definitely like.

 

4 Top Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wine For Your Dinner Party

4 Top Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wine For Your Dinner Party

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Image Source: Dana Robinson

Whether you are known as a bit of a wine buff or are a complete beginner to the dinner party scene, choosing the right wines for your soiree deserves some consideration. Here’re our top tips for making sure you choose the best wines for your dinner party.

  • Red or White

When hosting a dinner party, it is important to remember that the flavours of the food you serve will impact how the wine tastes, and vice versa.

Traditionally we pair white wines with fish, but there is more to consider than just the type of meat you are serving. Think about how your dish is flavoured as well. A Sauvignon Blanc pairs beautifully tart dressing and sauces whereas the heavier notes of a Pinot Grigio complement lighter dishes. For richer tasting fish dishes, like salmon or those served in a cream sauce, there really is no other choice but a nice Chardonnay.

As for the reds, a Pinot Noir will be at its best alongside earthy dishes, like vegetables or pizza. If you are not sure of how to pair a red to a dish, think logically. A heavy Italian red was literally made to accompany pasta dishes and gnocchi.

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Image Source: Ann Larie Valentine

 

  1. Weight

The problem with serving good wine to your friends is that few of them are going to notice when it is good and will happily knock it back. When the wine contrasts poorly with the meal or the setting, however, even us amateurs see that it falls short. We then tend to brand it as a ‘bad wine’ when in reality it is just poorly suited to the dish.

To avoid this, and keep your guests happy, consider the weight of the vintages you are serving when you buy your wines. Whether you choose them in person or buy them from an online liquor store, it is important to consider how the body of the wine will compare with the flavours of the food. A rich, full-bodied wine is the perfect complement to a heavy, red sauce pasta dish but would taste odd alongside a light salad or delicate herb flavours.

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Image Source: Ann Larie Valentine

  1. Courses

Don’t be afraid to serve different wines with different courses, in fact, it’s the right way to do it. The average dinner party host might be out of the habit of food pairing these days, but it is a good one to get into. It will enhance the flavours of your meal and ensure everything works perfectly together.

For a starter, which tends to be light, you want a lighter wine. Fresh, white vintages are always a good choice here and will pair beautifully with fish or delicate salads. If you are serving a pasta dish to start, stick to a Chardonnay for a creamy sauce or a Pinot Noir if the pasta is in a herby, red sauce.

For the main, we traditionally move onto a heavier red. This prevents guests drinking too much and allows them to savour the flavours. Of course, if it is a hot summer night and you are serving a lighter main, then stick to cool, refreshing white wines.

Dessert wine is a must and something that it is always best to research in advance. Muscat wines are the perfect complement to fruits whilst ports pair beautifully with rich desserts. There are also a variety of vintages that can be served as desserts in their own right, such as the German Ausele. Consider what is most likely to appeal to your guests and opt for that option, after all, the perfect wine for your dinner party is the one you and your guests will keep coming back to.

 

 

A Quick Guide To Hosting A Wine Tasting Party

A Quick Guide To Hosting A Wine Tasting Party

A lot less stressful than organising a dinner party, a wine tasting evening is an excellent way to relax and enjoy some time with friends.

If you’ve never hosted, or even been to, a wine tasting party before, you may be a little unsure of what you need to do. Don’t panic. Simply follow our quick guide below, and it will tell you everything that you need to know.

Choose a theme

Every wine tasting party needs a theme. A simple theme idea could be vintage wines from a particular country or region, such as Napa, California or Burgundy, France. If you are fortunate enough to live in a wine producing area, you could choose vintage wines from your area instead.

If you struggle to choose a suitable theme, pop into your local wine store and ask for some advice. You could also visit online wine sites and blogs for some inspiration. Don’t get stressed about it, just choose a simple theme and stick to it.

Types of wine

It is best not to have more than five types of wine for your guests to taste as more than this may be too overpowering for the palette. If you plan on tasting both red and white wines, make sure to serve them from light to dark. Darker wines are heavier on the stomach than lighter coloured wines, which means that they should be served last.

If, for example, you are expecting 12 guests, you will need four bottles of each wine. Two for tasting and two for enjoying afterwards. To ensure that the wine is served at the best temperature, place white wine and rose in the fridge an hour before guests arrive. You may also want to put any red wine in the refrigerator 15 minutes before guests arrive, to ensure that it is served at its ideal temperature. Remember to take white or rose wine out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving.

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(Photo source)

Wine glasses

If you have 12 guests attending your party, you will need at least 12 wine glasses. Give each guest one wine glass, preferably use Bordeaux style glasses if possible.

If you don’t have enough wine glasses then, you will need to order some more. Have a look at Patterson’s wholesale wine glasses to get an idea of prices and styles available.

Make sure that the glasses are not cleaned between each tasting, as even a small amount of water can ruin a good wine.

Snacks

You may want to provide your guests with some snacks to help soak up all the wine they will be drinking. Some great ideas for wine tasting nibbles are things like bread sticks, cheese straws, mixed olives, cheese and crackers, and dried fruit.

Alternatively, you could serve snacks that are traditional to the region where you wine and party theme originated from. Once you have chosen your theme, use the internet to research authentic foods that originate from the area.

Music

To set the scene, you may want to have some music playing in the background. Why not create a music playlist especially for your party? You could choose all of yours and your friend’s favourite songs and put them together in a relaxing compilation.

Alternatively, you could create a wine party playlist. You could choose songs that relate to wine, like Marvin Gaye’s ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ and so on. Whilst the music shouldn’t be too loud, some gentle background music is a great way to give your party a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

Games

If you are planning on having your guests sit around a table to do the wine tasting, it could be fun to provide a few games that can be played throughout the evening.

You could start off with some wine-related games, like guess the wine’s region, etc. You could also have cards and traditional board games on the table for you and

Did You Know…? Surprising Facts About Wine

Did You Know…? Surprising Facts About Wine

Now, it’s no secret that I’m someone who enjoys the odd glass of wine (or two!). To me, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a glass of rose wine on a summer’s evening. Come wintertime, I love to snuggle up on the sofa with a glass of red and my favourite book. But considering my love of the drink, I know very little about it. So, with this in mind, we’ve compiled some fascinating facts about this delightful drink. Some will make you chuckle, some will make you gasp and some are just plain bizarre. So, without further ado…

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Flickr

– It’s believed that monks were the first people to learn the skill of winemaking, way back in the Middle Ages. In fact, one of the most famous champagnes, Don Perignon, is named after a monk. He lived during the 17th and 18th-centuries. He is believed to have been one of the earliest known advocates of organic winemaking. He managed to perfect this skill during his lifetime. And more than 300 years later, his techniques are still being used today.

– The oldest bottle of wine is currently on display at the Pfalz Museum in Germany. Historians believe it to be a staggering 1,650 years old. This means its origins stretch as far back as the times of the Roman Empire.

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– Ancient Egyptian pharaohs refused to touch red wine. They believed that its appearance was too much like blood. They saw the effect that alcohol could have when drank in excess. They believed that it made people crazy and that they were incurring the wrath of the gods.

– Strangely enough, there are people who actually suffer from a phobia of wine. It’s a condition recognised by medical professionals all over the world. It’s called oenophobia.

– Back in the 1920s, alcohol was banned and made illegal (god forbid!). So, those who wanted to flout the law had to find ingenious ways of drinking alcohol without getting caught. One rather creative method involved a bottle of grape juice mix. The label gave clear instructions on how to use it to make alcohol. But it was written as a warning against taking such steps! Thankfully we have no such problem today. There are countless legal ways of buying your favourite tipple. Online retailer, The Fine Wine Company, is just one such example.

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– The Prince of Wales reportedly uses red wine in place of petrol to power his Aston Martin. (Am I the only one who thinks that’s a waste of perfectly good wine?!)

– We’ve all heard about the high antioxidant content in red wine. But did you know that soy sauce contains an astonishing ten times more of this essential health-promoting nutrient?

– In Japan it’s possible to actually swim in specialised pools filled with either coffee, tea or red wine! Those at Yunessun Spa believe that in doing this they are utilising the health-promoting properties of some of our favourite tipples!

We bet you’ve learnt lots about wine that you didn’t know before. We just hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as we did putting this list together!

The Best Way to Become an Amazing Wine Connoisseur

The Best Way to Become an Amazing Wine Connoisseur

Becoming a fully fledged wine expert can be a little scary for those who don’t really know what they’re doing. There are some strong opinion out there about different wines, and there will almost definitely be someone out there who wants to challenge your wine tasting skills. However, we have the best way to become an amazing wine connoisseur all in this post, so you can call yourself a connoisseur all in a few simple steps.

Develop Your Palate

First of all you need to develop your palate. Modest wines are the most sensible place to start when you start out. Simply drink wines you like to begin with, like simple roses and white zinfandels. Make sure you don’t gulp these wines down too fast; swish it around your mouth and actually taste the flavours rather than drinking them straight away (just don’t spit any out and ruin your Signature plus tablecloth).

Trying a Wine That Makes You Go ‘Aha!’

Once you’ve tried the simpler wines in life, you need to find a wine that makes you go ‘aha!’ – it’ll open your eyes to the world of wines. The ‘aha’ wine will be different from every other wine you’ve tasted, but it won’t be perfect, it’ll be unique.

Searching for Favourites

Searching for new wine favourites that make you go ‘aha!’ like the time before will be difficult. You’ll likely hit a plateau, and probably try hundreds more wines until you find one that makes you have the same epiphany as before.

Read About Wine

There are tons of articles and books about wine, so get reading! There are books that concentrate more on the fermentation process, and other books full of great information about your favourites.

Try Bold Wines

Once you’ve tried all of the basic, simple wines, found a few ‘aha!’ wines, and seem to have hit a plateau, it’s time to try some more coveted, bold wines. Some of the most sought after wines in the world are big and bold!

Drink Strange, Complicated Wines

On your way to becoming a wine expert, you’ll want to try to find complexity in wine to help expand your palate and senses. You’re drinking a complex wine if:

  • You can name more than 2 fruits as a flavour in the wine.
  • You can name over 3 other characteristics.
  • The flavour of the wine changes from the second you taste it to the second you swallow it.

Switch Back to Subtle Wine

By now, you may have fatigued your palate a little. This means it’s time to switch back to subtle wines!

Rediscover Your Old Favourites

You can now feel free to go back to the basics; the wines you know and love, and have loved from the beginning! The only difference now, is that you can tell if something is cheap and horrible, or a fine wine!

At this point, you’ve come full circle, gone through the process of wine tasting, and become somewhat of an expert. You should now be able to pick a wine from a list with ease and confidence. Congratulations!

Image Author: Flickr

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How to Turn a Wine Tasting Hobby into Something More

How to Turn a Wine Tasting Hobby into Something More

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If you’re reading this then chances are you enjoy your wine; you may even have turned wine tasting into a hobby. However, have you ever wondered what else you could do with your passion for good wine? We’ve come up with some spectacular ways to turn your hobby into something more, and perhaps even make some money from it.

Blogging

Starting up a blog about your passion is a popular, and relatively easy, way to expand your hobby into something more worthwhile. You’ll notice you’re currently on a wine blog, created by those who love wine. So, why not do something similar? You can set up a basic blog using a platform such as WordPress, and write about your wine tasting adventures. There doesn’t need to be any particular goal to blogging; it’s just a great way to write down your thoughts, opinions and experiences. However, a good blog can also make money on the side, which is obviously a big bonus!

Business

Have you ever wondered whether you could turn your wine tasting hobby into some kind of business? It has been done before! There are many stories of those that have gone from just wine tasting with their friends to creating their very own money-making business from it. Make sure you know your stuff before plunging into the deep end, and invest in some wine tasting courses in London so that you’re fully up to scratch. You could then open your own wine merchant, tasting classes or even a vineyard if you’re feeling adventurous.

Investing

Some of the richest people in the world have now turned to investing in wine, over the stock market, as a great way to make extra cash. Although you may need a little bit of capital to start off with, you don’t have to go as ‘big’ as the top investors. Start off small and build up your collection, before waiting for the right time to sell them on. There are wine investment companies, much like stock brokers, who can help you buy and sell wine the right way. Just make sure you research into how the market works before you start losing money. Some bottles can make huge amounts of money, so this is definitely one for those who know their stuff!

Just enjoy it

Of course, you don’t need to turn your wine tasting hobby into something more if you don’t want to. One of the best things about this hobby is that nearly everyone enjoys it, so it’s a great thing to do with friends and family. If you usually attend a wine tasting class or group, then why not invite some other people along too? Alternatively have your own wine tasting event at home? There’s plenty of ways to enjoy this fantastic hobby, and if it progresses naturally into something else then that is great!

Have you turned your wine tasting hobby into something else? Do you have any tips and tricks for other wine connoisseurs? Or do you simply just prefer wine tasting at home with the family?

Pairing Wine with Spicy Food the Easy Way

Pairing Wine with Spicy Food the Easy Way

All of us enjoy a bit of spice with our food every now and then, whether it is home cooked or from the local takeaway. However, most of us will reach for a beer or soft drink when eating a curry, as opposed to opening a bottle of wine. There’s a common misconception that wine and spicy food do not mix; we disagree! Here are some quick and easy tips for pairing that delicious food with an equally delicious wine.

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Sweet Wines

If you want to tame some of that spiciness tingling on your tongue, then look for some sweet wines. A sweeter wine will balance some of the hotness from your chosen spicy food; so as not to create a clash of flavours on your taste buds. The residual sugar in rose or an off-dry white works perfectly to combat the heat, as it coats the tongue. You don’t need to invest in a bottle of dessert wine to get that sweet fix, try Riesling, or something similar, for a wine that works perfectly with spicy food.

Low Alcohol

The high alcohol content in wine is going to react with the spices in your food, and cause a burn on the tongue that is far from pleasant. A low alcohol wine that has been chilled in the fridge will help to cool down the heat and means you can drink it quicker than a high alcohol wine, which tends to be sipped. Taking a nice glug of low alcohol wine will cool you tongue quicker than sipping a high alcohol alternative. Crisp, low percentage wines should be the order of the day with your next spicy dinner.

Sparkling Wines

This seems to be the most popular opinion between wine experts; sparkling wines are the best to drink whilst eating spicy food. The bubbles in sparkling wine provide a nice contrast on your taste buds, which are trying to cool themselves down after the super hot sauce you’ve just consumed. The tang in certain champagnes and sparkling wines will offset the tang of your meal and create a wonderfully pleasant sensation on your tongue. Plus, everyone loves an excuse to drink a bit of sparkling with their dinner.

Crisp Red Wines

Everyone is worried about combining red wine with spicy food, normally because of the tannin and alcohol content. However, you don’t need to avoid red wine altogether when enjoying a nice curry; just be wary of the ones you choose. A low alcohol content, crisp, red wine will taste delicious with your meal. If you’re out searching for a nice bottle of red to serve then look for those that are either fruity or spicy, with a good level of acidity. Avoid favourites such as Merlot or Shiraz and opt for a Barbera or Zinfandel instead.

Pairing wine with spicy food doesn’t have to be difficult, especially not now you have all these expert tips! However, if you’re still stuck for ideas then try visiting a wine merchant and asking an expert what they suggest. Let them know the food you’re cooking, and the particular spices involved, for a more personalised recommendation.