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Wonderful wine: why variety is the spice of life

Fri 30 Apr 2010 11:33


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Sticking to the same old routine can get a bit dull, and the same goes for wine, so this week wine connoisseur Tom Cannavan is encouraging everyone to try a tipple that’s a little bit different.

It can be nice to try a wine that’s from a less common grape variety, or from a region you don’t normally drink wine from. And tasting wines that don’t fit into the common descriptions – such as “buttery” for Chardonnay or “blackcurranty” for Cabernet Sauvignon - can be a real experience for the taste buds!

Often these picks, from unusual corners of the wine world, match really well with local cuisine so Tom also shares his tips for what type of dishes go nicely with his wine selections.

1.    Pievalta, Verdicchio 2008, Italy, priced at £8.99 from
This pick, which is from the Marche region in the east of Italy, is a wine made from the Verdicchio grape that is both organic and biodynamic.

Biodynamics is a system of organic, natural farming developed by Rudolf Steiner, that also works to a calendar that respects the earth's magnetic fields and the rhythms of the sun, moon, planets and stars.

Verdicchio is a wonderfully nutty, dry wine that is almost like a Chabli - very steely and intense, but brilliant with the right food.

With tastes of honey, nuts and yellow apples, this wine matches up deliciously with dishes like pasta with pesto, pasta with prawns, and teams up with foods served with lemon and olive oil.

2. Terra Andina, Carmenere Rosé 2008, Chile, priced at £5.99 from Oddbins
Carmenere is the 'lost grape', once one of the main grapes of Bordeaux that disappeared over the centuries,  only to be rediscovered in Chile within the past couple of decades, where it had been identified wrongly as Merlot for many years.

It is indeed reminiscent of Merlot with its blackcurranty and cherry fruit, but adding a mentholy, grassy character. Here it is made as a fruity, bright, very quaffable rosé which has tasting cues of cherries and mint leaves.

Match this wine up with salmon of seafood starters or appetisers, or just enjoy it on its own.

3. Araldica, Brachetto d'Acqui 2009, Italy, priced at £4.42 from Waitrose
This is a highly unusual  red wine from Piedmont in Northern Italy, that is also 'frizzante', or gently sparkling, and sweet. Think of an upmarket version of the Lambrusco of the 70s.

It's also very low in alcohol, so is the perfect garden sipper once the weather heats up, or is delicious served along with all sorts of desserts.

Flavours of strawberries and peaches give this wine a taste, with goes well with desserts from fruity tarts to dark chocolate, and absolutely brilliantly with  chocolate soufflé.

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