When I’m giving a wine talk there will inevitably be questions from the audience keen to understand more about the wine they’ve just bought on their last visit to the supermarket, or some question that’s been niggling away waiting to be answered from someone who knows.
While I try my best to fit into this category I don’t claim to know all the answers but here are a few of my answers to the questions I get asked most frequently – which usually starts with “Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?”.
Well my answer to that is yes Shiraz can also be spelt Syrah – it’s the same grape variety just grown somewhere with a different spelling system. Nobody is quite sure why the spelling changed when immigrants took cuttings of Syrah grape vines down-under but it’s probably down to the fact that, until this century, most people couldn’t write, and the few that were able to, did so using a spelling system based on how they heard the word being pronounced. Or possibly how they saw someone else spelling it, or even if they just felt like trying out a few alternatives now and again – just think of the many ways William Shakespeare spelt his name, or is that Bill Shackspar?
Another commonly asked questions is “Which type of wine, on the whole, is most likely to make my mouth feel dry: white, rosé or red?”.
Tricky one this. It’s red wine. Well it’s all down to the tannin. Tannin is found in grape pips and grape skins – and it’s the skins that give red wine its high tannin levels because these are added to the mix when you make red wine. Rosé wine has the skins taken out of the brew after only a short time so the tannin (and colour) is lower. In white wine the skins aren’t used at all, so consequently it generally has a lower tannin content and so feels less drying when you drink it.
So now you know.
PG Wine Reviews
Elegant Frog French Viognier 2016
£6.50 Sainsbury’s (down from £7.50 until October 10)
Flavours of creamy apple, peach and honey.
Stellenrust Barrel South African Chenin Blanc 2017
£7.25 Sainsbury’s (down from £8 until October 11)
Hardys Voyage Australian Chardonnay Pinot Grigio 2016
This blend of two white grape varieties results in aromas and flavours of pineapple, peach, banana and apple. Nice.
Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Italian Rosé 2016
£7.75 The Wine Society
Tastes lightly of cherries.
Paso-Primero 2016, Spain
£8.50 Tanners Wines
Made by a Shropshire couple in a Spanish vineyard, this red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot and Tempranillo grapes has a bit of every flavour going, including sweet-sour damsons, chocolate and spice. A really nice wine that’s worth the money.