Esquire Year 2: Wine Crash Course
The other day Esquire Philippines completed it’s first year of publication and now we are pushing forward with better and ever evolving content for year 2. As you may know, i’m the Food and Drinks Editor of Esquire and i’m very happy to be part of this team. I do it for fun and because i get to be part of an international Brand and they let me write about things that are close to my heart.
Yesterday was the Anniversary party of Esquire and i’m very pleased that i now represent the straightforward men’s clothing brand 5cm, Hong Kong Based, but with branches locally in MOA and Powerplant. Check out the slim fitting straight cut suit i wore at the party. Have a look at their fall collection, its great, there are some classics, some casual wear, and some pieces with a wink at modernity. Simple yet distinct.
If you haven’t picked up the monthly magazine yet, you should, it’s really interesting stuff and i talk, not only, about food but also about drinks and cocktails, which i know a lot of you are interested in. Here is they type of Drinking With Erwan Heussaff article you would find monthly:
Days of Wine
(ESQ PH JUNE 2012)
A CRASH COURSE IN MAKING INTELLIGENT CHOICES WHETHER YOU’RE IN THE AISLE, THE RESTAURANT, A PARTY OR ABROAD
Click More To Read On
Depending on which country you find yourself in, wine is slowly becoming more popular than beer as the drink to order during happy hour and dinners. Locally, most restaurants now boast of quite expansive wine menus, which can leave anybody looking the fool and opting for the safe house wine choices, or selecting anything French, old and expensive.
Funnily enough, in France, wine can sometimes be cheaper than water, making it almost impossible to judge the quality of the drink by its price or region, which is why annoyance ensues when someone at a restaurant asks for the priciest bottle on the list, or just reads through the menu at a quick glance and chooses anything with words that he has heard before (merlot, Bordeaux, cabernet), not necessarily knowing what they represent and unaware that, without the right knowledge, disastrous choices will result. I know of some wine importers in the Philippines who purchase and sell wines that are deemed export quality (meaning they don’t want to sell it in the producing country—with good reason) coupled with expert marketing and packaging that will help sell them like hotcakes in countries where wine education is just beginning.
Here’s a crash course to guide you in making intelligent choices whether you’re in the aisle, the restaurant, a party or abroad. It’s impossible to explain everything in a few words, so bear in mind this is simply a starting point.
New World vs Old World (Terroir)
The complexities of the soil and its surroundings greatly affect the taste of your wine. No one is expecting you to know what particularities each wine-growing region/country holds, but research will help you get a firm grasp. For now, a brief summary will do: If you head for France, look for Bordeaux, Burgundy or Cote du Rhone for a safe bet; further south, look to Italian wines from Tuscany; when in Spain, select bottles from Rioja or Ribera del Duero. On the New World side: American, go for Nappa, Sonoma or Oregon; South African, go for Constantia or Walker Bay; Australia, fly by Barossa and opt instead for Hunter, Yarra Valley or Margaret River produce.
There are hundreds of different types of grapes that can produce wines and each terroir can have its own exclusive style. It’s important to remember that not all wines are produced from a single cepage; some are mixed, so have a look at the label. Knowing the region and the grape can be a great help, since you can research if that particular area is known to produce good wine with a specific grape.
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon usually produces full and rich red wines, a Pinot Noir will be slightly less tannic, a Merlot is one of the lightest red varieties, Syrah is best coming out of France and Australia and carries lots of character, a Zinfandel is from California and is full of bold flavors, Cabernet Franc is mostly used as a blending grape, Grenache grapes come packed with tastes, Tempranillo is the dominant Spanish variety and Sangiovese is my favourite Italian go-to.
White: Chardonnay usually comes off with strong and heavy notes, while a Riesling will give out a sweeter and light wine perfect for warm summer days, Semillion produces quite fruity, mellow and well-rounded wines, perfect when mixed with Sauvignon Blanc which has a high acidity, Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc are both excellent and produce a vast variety of different styles of wines, Gewurztraminer has a natural sweetness that I am partial to.
Other important factors in choosing the proper bottle include: the Vintage—just because it’s old does not mean it’s good; for this to be a useful tool you need to research the variety and the region and see what quality of wines they produced in a given year, then see if this is a wine that was made to age or be consumed right away. The Denomination: Every country has their own rating system that concludes whether a certain wine can be called a certain name (numerous classifications—get to know them) if it has reached determining factors/rules; somewhat archaic, but can be a good indication as to the quality of the drink, but it’s to be followed with suspicion. Pairing: you are looking for something that will complement and hold its own with the food you are ordering; forget the age-old saying that white is for shellfish and red is for meats. Instead, look at it more simply: medium-full bodied wines will do well with strong and bold food, whereas lighter fare will complement delicate and intricate dishes.
A Glossary of Terms:
appellation a delineated wine-producing region, particular to France.
Aroma the scent of the grape and smell of the wine.
barrel the container—usually and hopefully oak—used for fermenting and aging wine.
balance when the acids, sugars, tannins, and alcohol come together in a glorious way.
body term describing the weight and fullness of wine in your mouth.
robe the imprint that the wine leaves on the glass—the greasier it looks, the sweeter the wine.
bouquet describing complex aromas.
breathing allowing the wine to come in contact with oxygen to air it out.
demi-sec half dry.
dry opposite of sweet.
round the opposite of dry.
finish the last tasting note the wine leaves in your mouth.