Baffled by the world of wine? Put your mind at rest with our seven top tips from expert winemaker Gavin Monery
Words Gavin Monery, winemaker at urban winery, London Cru
One of the stumbling blocks people face when trying to understand and enjoy wine are the rules. At the end of the day wine is about pleasure, not rules, so rip up the rule book and live life on the edge with Gavin Monery, London’s first winemaker at London Cru.
The number one thing is to have some fun experimenting. Don’t be scared or intimidated by wine; it’s just fermented grape juice after all. Drink widely and drink well, find out what you like and enjoy the journey.
Don’t fight with the wine list on your own
The days of the aloof continental Sommelier are long gone. If you are at a restaurant with a Somm, ask them. Give them a budget. Trust me you’ll both be relieved, as they’ll know what price range to work within and you’ll know there won’t be any embarrassing surprises. Or if it’s a hot date or important business meeting, check the wine list online before you arrive.
Don’t buy the second cheapest wine on the list
Or the cheapest for that matter. Trading up, even by a small amount can increase the quality of the wine tenfold. The bottom three or four wines on a list tend to have a hefty markup, meaning they aren’t great value, relative to the rest. At the bottom end of the market the cost of a bottle is nearly all made up of freight, duty and taxes. This leaves very little for the actual wine.
Try not to get hung up on matching the wine to the food
A full-bodied white can stand up to a dirty burger and a deep red can light up a beetroot salad. Light reds like Pinot or Beaujolais can match fish and the acid of a Chenin Blanc can slice right through a rack of lamb. Case in point, our 2015 London Cru Chardonnay goes perfectly with a curry. The only limit is your imagination.
Try before you buy
Tons of wine bars and restaurants now have extensive by the glass lists. These allow you experiment with wines from every corner of the globe. Most will even pour a sip so you can get a good idea before you dive into a full glass.
Don’t save it, enjoy it
Whatever you do don’t save that special bottle for the sort of special occasion that never seems to arrive. Opening a great bottle with good food and great friends is the special occasion.
How to taste like a boss
If you order the wine for the table then the waiter will ask you to taste it for the group before pouring. Just give your glass a little swirl to release some aroma then breath it in. If it smells good, then give the go ahead. If it smells like wet cardboard, nail polish remover or rotten eggs then you should politely decline. Life is too short to drink bad wine.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
There are some beautiful wines with terrible labels, along with some terrible wines packaged to look amazing. Judging a wine by the label, closure, bottle weight or punt (the hole on the bottom) is just as random as judging a person by how they look. The only way to know what you’ve really got is by opening up and spending a bit of time with them.
Want to learn more about wine? Book a wine tour at London Cru to see how wine is made (and enjoy a few glasses while you are at it). Find out more at londoncru.co.uk