Practical storage tips to keep your wine at its best until the moment you pull the cork!

How to store

If most wine is made to be drunk within a year or two of the vintage and most of us consume what we buy within days of purchase, what benefits are there to storing wine for future consumption and how do you do it?

The more I have got to know wine, the more I’ve understood a big part of the enjoyment is buying wine and waiting for the right moment to drink it.  My first experience of what a joy this can bring came one New Years Eve and involved a bottle of Leoville Barton 2003.  That first bottle was nothing short of a mouthful of sheer joy!  Blackberry, liquorice, earth and smoky tobacco being common characteristics it was like a Willy Wonka sweet moment!   In contrast, roll forward 5 New Years Eve’s later and the final 2003 Leoville Barton was plucked from the rack and poured.  From the first sniff, I knew the two experiences of this fine wine were not going to be same.  The wine was a shadow of its former self and had acquired a bitter, sour tar like taste –full of rubber characteristics and all flavours had gone. This wine was either stored incorrectly or time had finally caught up with its characteristics. In truth it was a bit of both!

3 golden rules for storing wine

Wine is a simple product. Remember just one thing. It is organic!  Whether its that bottle of ‘90 Chateau Pavie or a plastic bottle of table wine, it will begin to breakdown as soon as the wine comes into contact with oxygen: changing the character and structure of the wine, robbing it of any vibrancy and character.

So good storage is essential. Where possible, store your bottles horizontally, in an atmosphere with a little humidity to help stop the cork from drying out and exposing the wine to oxygen.  Keeping the bottles out of direct sunlight and cool and stable is also important. The wine should be subject to as little movement as possible.

Temperature and humidity

Temperature fluctuation is the probably the greatest hazard in wine storage as the wine matures. Avoid storing wine where there are widely ranging daily temperatures. The recommend temperature is 10°C-13°C (50°F-55°F). The warmer it is stored, the faster it will mature because heat inevitably speeds up all reactions. so the cooler wine is kept, the slower, and very possibly more interestingly, it will develop. Bottles closed with natural cork should always be stored on their sides so the wine touches the cork and keeps it damp and swollen.  Bottles stoppered with screw caps or synthetic ‘corks’ can be stored at any angle. Champagne bottles can also be stored upright.

Vibration

Vibration can shift the sediment in the wine, resulting in a gritty texture. Make sure to avoid dropping the wine, or moving the crates or shelves suddenly

Light

Strong light can adversely affect the taste of wine, particularly sparkling wine, and particularly if the bottles are made from clear or pale glass. (This is why wine is sold increasingly in darker bottles, and why champagne is sometimes special lightproof cellophane (Cristal))

Which wines can I store?

Although there is no definite answer, 95% of wine is not meant for “cellaring” or storing for extended amounts of time. Shelf wines are intended to be consumed while fresh and young in the bottle.

Wines that do improve with age must have a higher degree of concentration of fruit, more body and higher levels of natural preservatives called phenols;anthocyanins, the colouring matter found just under the grapes’ skins) and tannins, the bitter, dry ingredient found also in skins and pips and the wood in which wine is aged.

The best red varieties that age successfully are:

Cabernet SauvignonMerlotSyrah/Shiraz, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese

The natural preservatives help keep the wine fresh, whilst the tannins gradually soften and the colour changes from purple through ruby, mahogany to finally becoming pale and brown. Primary aromas of fresh fruit develop into secondary (aged) and tertiary aromas (added by the winemaker). The bouquet and flavour of fine wine has many nuances and layers of complexity that really make it worth the wait.

When is the right time?

Because of the high tannins, it’s not uncommon for some Bordeaux’s to last up to 35 years and take up to 10 years to be at their best!

It really it all depends on the original quality of the wine (How well is the vineyard regarded); the vintage (lighter years mature more quickly); the storage (a dark place and a steady coolish temperature of 13ºC or so help; see below); and even the size of the bottle (half bottles age faster than full bottles or magnums) but the right age also depends too on personal taste, whether you prefer the accent to be on primary fruit or you look for the added complexity that comes with age.

How to tell if your wine has spoiled?

Look out for a change in the colour of the liquid (usually a cloudy appearance) or a dusty settlement in the bottom of the bottle. If these things are going on in the bottle, then it has most likely gone bad and the taste will not be pleasant!

Storing wine that has been opened

The best way to store an open bottle of red wine is to replace the cork and put it in a cool, dark place. If you don’t have a red wine fridge (set to a specific temperature), you can either:

▪ Re-cork after every glass to limit the oxygen that gets into the bottle.

▪ Better still, buy a wine preserver. The wine preserver sucks all the air from the bottle, reducing oxygenation and extending the lifespan of your wine. (Up to a week)

▪ Alternatively don’t even open the bottle and use a Coravin system – a device that extracts the wine through the cork with a fine needle (i.e. without having to open the bottle) and replaces any air in bottle with argon gas.

▪ And always store in the right place for the wine: Put whites and light wines in the fridge, and keep reds and fortified wines in a cool, dark place away from light and heat If you don’t have a cool, dark place like a pantry then your fridge is better than letting the wine sit out in a 70°F (21°C) room.

Life Expectancy after opening:

In a cool, dark place with a cork, red wine will last 5-7 days.  The more tannin and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening. So, a light red with very little tannin, such as Pinot Noir, won’t last open as long as a rich red Cabernet Sauvignon.

Where to store

So from everything we have discussed so far it follows that the ideal for wine storage is a nice, dark, protected cellar or a room, lined with wine racks.  Alas for most of us it is but a dream so a more affordable alternative is needed.

Whatever you do, avoid the places at home where usually there is spare space  – usually the top of the fridge, or cooker or near the central heating boiler!!! Also avoid the corner of a spare-room near the radiator. If you are serious about wine you could buy an ‘artificial cellar’, a temperature- and humidity-controlled cabinet like a refrigerator or specially excavated ‘spiral cellar’.  The more serious collector-investor will do best using a professional storage company.

And finally, wherever you choose to store your wine, don’t forget to make a list of ideal drink dates for your collection.   If you miss their drinking times you may miss the wine at its best. And if you have followed these hints and tips – it would be a shame to miss the fruits of your labour and mess the best bit!  Enjoy!

Something that you have been unable to answer yourself?  Any advice on hard to find wines?  Please ask away at thegrapewizard@gmail.com

A toast to Sunderland’s finest! 

Years ago the North of England was regarded as one of the great areas for industry. Many thought that anywhere past Watford was ‘Grim’.  Coal was big business and raw materials were in high demand. It was a ‘golden age’.  These days the North of England seems to have lost most of that industry that made it prosperous.

 

Sunderland ( A shipbuilding town), in particular, was one of those such towns that had it all. Much of that is gone now but what remains is the stoic determination for something great again.  That dream, that desire, might just be becoming to fruition.

Just look at neighbouring  Tynemouth and you might think your in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds   Not only are fabulous independent shops on the high street but also the gastro-scene is flourishing. Posh shops everywhere and London prices – the only thing missing is the Hunter Welly’s !  Having looked out from Rileys Fish Shack (Below) just 2 weeks ago the gastro-scene had truly arrived!

TM The Grape Wizard

TM The Grape Wizard

Fish and Chips on the Beach – How Victorian and totally stress free

(No London life allowed here !)

 

™TheGrapeWizard.com – Turbot & Capers with Samphire YUM YUM

The creativity built out of 2 * 40ft containers is there to see – great food cooked to order and craft beer on tap.

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TM Rileys Fish Shack

carefully selected beer and ale from some of the regions favorite brewers including

Wylam Brewery,
Almasty Brewing Co
Three Kings Brewery
and
Allendale Brewery.

Good choice of wine also adds to the experience. Not only was the food good for the stomach but the experience was good for the soul   All fish 🐟 was unusual – even the ugly gurnard was on the menu.  Just shows you we don’t have to be reliant on cod and haddock all the time.!!

If there is a lesson here it is the determination of a business to showcase talent to the local economy in the hope of greater things. Such is the determination up in the North of England that other businesses have taken the step to modernise and become uber-cool in recent years –  Alnwick gardens, The Sage and the Baltic in Gateshead all benefiting from a revamp !

Even the Angel of the North champion’s optimism and the hope for the future !

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Then…. just the other day i was driving into Sunderland  and drove through a ‘suburb’ of Sunderland – Roker

 

and saw “Poetic License ” adorned on a hotel wall. Further investigation highlights a fabulous gin distillery.

It Achieved a Gin Masters Award and Gin of the Year Award 2015. Set up by a guy who worked in the hospitality industry. This is a Gin/s to try I thought!.

Here is the range

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 Northern Dry Gin £34.95 thefoodmarket.com

Juniper, Cardamom, Pepper, Citrus.

43.2% Vol.

Expect a big fistful of juniper that is complemented with green cardamom to warm the heart on an Autumnal evening . Undertones of lemon and eucalyptus together with Persian lime intensifies the citrus feel  GW score 4*

Good for Negroni and the sharp citrus flavour of a classic Gin Sour

Old Tom Gin £34.95 thefoodmarket.com

Juniper, Sweetness, Rose, Oak

41.6% Vol.

A sweeter and more peppery taste compared to the Dry Gin. Oak casks add a woody flavour and colour to the Gin. Rose petals infuse a distinct character to the sweetness as well as a rose gold tinge.

Mixing Tips:  Old Tom Gin suits subtle cocktail recipes. Ingredients like lavender and rose give it a good balance GW Score 3*

Graceful Vodka £32.50 MasterofMalt.com

Smooth, Pure, Subtle Sweetness.

40.4% Vol.

 a smooth spirit, to be sipped and savoured.

Created entirely from British wheat giving a velvety smooth texture,

Mixing Tips: Cocktails with a lighter citrus flavour = GIMLETS. Avoid mixers with too much acidic content try a dry Vodka Martini

Fireside Gin £34.95 Poetic License

Mulled Winter Fruit and Juniper

40.1% Vol.

This gin is a winter warmer, your granny’s favourite blanket on your knee. Very wintery.  Juniper, coriander and orris root give it its base flavours whilst a sweetness from dried winter fruits and a zingy freshness from clementine.

The mulling spice blend of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg gives a warming flavour reminiscent of your favourite seasonal treats, sure to warm you from the inside out!

Mixing Tips: Try Winter Cocktails – Poetic License  like it ” hot, served with ginger ale warmed through with a little honey and extra mulling spices.” Try It!

The citrus edge also makes a delicious white lady.”

They also do a whole host of seasonal stuff GW Score 4*

Click to see more of the Guys from P.L.

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Gracie – She does all the work and surely deserves a medal – at the very least a mention

Having tried the Northern Gin last night (22nd Sept 2017 ) I have to say it’s one of the most stand out gins I’ve tried   Up there with Herno Gin and  Icelandic Vor Gin . All too often gins can loose there distinct style and flavour. Poetic Licence Northern Gin seems to be spot on.

The growing market for sipping gins seems to be growing – using more richer flavours and combining that with your favourite music seems to enhance the experience.

Some of you may have noticed that I havn’t put up a blog for a few weeks. My father in law has been battling with a long term illness. Obviously this week is a little more personal than normal but it is only fitting to finish this weeks blog with a tribute to a man who lived and loved life.  Tom introduced me to many a fine whiskey in the company of Robert Zimmerman (click here to find out more!). . 

Perhaps it is some sort of ‘poetic licence’ to have discovered a gin called ‘Old Tom’ made in his home town in the week he passed away. He is now immortalised

So here’s to you Tom  🍻 – You did a fabulous job as a Father, Mentor and a Guardian.  You are a true inspiration – an example of what all of us should be as individuals and you did it without trying. You will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Since beginning this blog and finishing it I am now sadly dedicating this piece to you.

Cheers !

cheers

This weeks music pairing 

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GW

GW Spirits Rating

  • 1* Not very interesting, boring branding, expensive cost price for product
  • 2*Branding improving, showing signs of some thing interesting. Good value for money
  • 3* Middle of the road product, not good value for money and not too expensive.    Simlar products on the market make it generic
  • 4*Unique in character and good value for money
  • 5* Inventive, unique in character, visually fabulous together with a favourable cost price

Copenhagen : No Danish bacon no Danish Pastries but what an even better find – Copenhagen Distillery

This week was my birthday  and thank you so much for sending me loads of cards !!!! All 3 of them arrived just in time. For everyone else a point to note is 13/08

My better half treated me to a four day trip to Copenhagen and what better way to spend it than allow a bit of business to creep in!!!

Copenhagen lies to the North of Europe and is probably one of the few places where the capital city is detached from the mainland.

http://www.visitcopenhagen.com

In fact if Denmark did Island 🌴 capitals they’d probably do the best in the world 🌎😜.  Only 2 hours on the plane from Heathrow it felt more like a commute to work than a mini holiday

 I was struck by the cleanliness of the airport , of the streets of the appearance and of the whole place. Danes are nothing but facidious.

The 4 day stay at the hotel

courtesy of http://www.greasemusical.dk

Very much corporate in style it was a shame there wasn’t more creature comforts – bijou and basic.  Still I wasn’t here to be Alex Polizzi.

But this was 2 minutes away ………

Nyhavn in Copenhagen, C or Shutterstock 

As you can imagine Central Copenhagen is full of tourists and as such offers a varied choice of quality restaurants , however we found some fab places and i would highly recommend them  –  please click on the links below to find out more

A few that was visited were :

The Union Kitchen

In one of Copenhagen’s trendiest districts, Nyhavn, is Union Kitchen, where tattooed employees look like lead singers from rock bands , the colour scheme uber cool grey-on-grey, and the menu is homemade granola and toasted sourdough with cottage cheese, tomato, thyme and olive oil. FAB 5*

Atelier Sept

Atelier September  houses  a café, a boutique and a creative studio.

Chef and creator Frederik Bille serve natural food & artisan coffee, operating for breakfast & lunch as well as late afternoon. The back of the building is used as an artist studio for notable danish designers (Birgitte Due Madsen, Olga Bramsen, Stine Langvad and Jonas Trampedach.) Fab place to be for uber cool breakfasts.

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BROR

Two former Noma sous-chefs have joined forces and opened the restaurant BROR, which focuses mainly on the Nordic cuisine. Samuel Nutter and Victor Wågman have previously worked at the world-renowned Michelin-star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. Now they have opened restaurant BROR in the heart of the Danish capital.
The word “bror” means brother in Danish and symbolises care, honesty and respect, which are the exact values that makes the restaurant.

The food is simple but good and is made with ingredients from the Northern European region.

Other places definitely worth a visit

  • Torvehallerne (Frederiksborggade 21) bring the Italian market right to Copenhagen. Find yourself a treat among the numerous food stalls.
  • Papirøen, or Copenhagen Street Food as it bills itself (Trangravsvej 14) offers loads of exotic food choices. Everything from Cuban and Korean to Lebanese and Japanese is in sale here. Stuff your face !!!!

but having enjoed all the healthy food and it was great food

it was time to get down to business !!!

I scoured the capital for a gin producer (as Denmark is too cold to grow grapes ) and found the fabulous Copenhagen distillery just to the southeast of the town centre

2016-11-21 What is next for Copenhagen Distillery 1 ny

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

 the guy’s ethos is …..

“At Copenhagen Distillery we believe in simplicity and balance. We pay respect to tradition, but it’s through design, experimentation and radical thinking that we propel ourselves into new and uncharted territories. From the distillation and discovery of tantalizing new flavors, to the design of the bottle, the entire experience of enjoying one of our spirits should be a pleasure for both the palate and the eye.”

extract from the www.copenhagendistillery.dk

It is an ethos that can be clearly seen. (As can the height differential between me and the Lead Distiller (Lasse Oznek))

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thegrapewizard.com

Small distilling tanks used for the production of all their products. This month sees the instillation of  Lasse’s baby. A German produced still (Complete with swans neck !)

Subscribe to the blog to receive updates of the Distilleries development mail the wizard !!

The guys

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

Sune and Henrik produce an amazing array of products

Copenhagen-Distillery-Mexican-Coffee

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

MC

The distinct coffee liqueur is based on organic Mexican coffee beans. The coffee beans used are a mix of two different roasts: a very light roast that lends a higher acidity, and a medium dark roast that catches slightly bitter coffee notes. When combined the coffee distillates with cane sugar, green anise and a touch of grated organic lemon peel for a rich, bitter and slightly sweet experience.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Oak-Gin

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

OAK GIN

Borrowing from the process used to develop single malt whiskey, the Oak Gin is rested in small sherry oak casks to allow the combination of juniper, orange peel, and pepper to develop a unique, smooth and balanced flavor.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Dry-Gin

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

DRY GIN

 Copenhagen Dry Gin is a 100% honey spirit made from double distilled mead. It belongs to a very exclusive category of Single Botanical Gins, where juniper is the only botanical used.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Orange-Gin

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

ORANGE GIN

Inspired by the classic, early 20th-century orange gin. Instead of mimicking the gin of the past, its built on the tradition by using a mix of both sweet and bitter oranges. Combined with sweet prune, spicy long pepper, cardamom and juniper for a rich body. Orange Gin is a unique spin on a classic spirit.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Longpepper-Snaps

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

SNAPS

Indonesian Long Pepper

Indonesian Long Pepper Snaps is a fusion of the familiar and the exotic. It holds a powerful sweetness, sharp citrus tang and a spicy lingering aftertaste. It can be enjoyed straight, traditionally with a meal, or as a base for a startlingly unique cocktail experience.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Julesnaps

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

SNAPS

Julesnaps

A smooth and highly complex Snaps with all the aromas you associate with Christmas. A fine taste of oranges with tones of sweet prunes and cardamom.

Copenhagen-Distillery-Aquavit

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

Aquavit

Dill Anise Aquavit is an invigorating twist on this classic Scandinavian spirit. With dill as the primary flavor driver, complemented by notes of green anise and lemon peel, the Aquavit has a sharp citrus tang with a lingering aftertaste that is spicy and distinct.

This operation is all about craft and product. Not about brand.

Soon to be released into the UK. Stay tuned for details….

On top of every thing else of being Inventive, creative  uber cool and downright great guys they are now hosting a world first……

Spirikum_web_overlay

SPIRIKUM is the world’s first festival for lovers, makers and drinkers of Snaps and Aquavit.

At Spirikum, there will be spirit producers from all over Scandinavia and USA, who will bring samples of their Snaps and Aquavit.  5 of the best restaurants in Copenhagen making street food, and some of Copenhagen’s best brewers to come and serve their beers.

see the link for more info Spirikum

To sum up my time in Copenhagen it is a place of beauty, a place i didn’t expect

This week I have been very impressed with the experience of Denmark and Copenhagen. People are friendly the place is clean and the lifestyle is super healthy.  Bikes every where and microgreens on every plate. How is this destination not more popular. !!  It’s one of those places you glad you visited not one that was an effort to get to

As you would expect from Denmark 🇩🇰 two of the biggest exports to come from the Danes

are Danish bacon

thick-cut-bacon

and Danish pastries.

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could i find anyone selling them . nope. How can this be. 🤓

this weeks Music pairing = uber cool 😎

www.copenhagendistillery.dk

Bellhound Choir

 

Wine and music – don’t laugh, it will enrich you !

wsfb_wine_music_17_event

A study has shown that people can get 15% more pleasure out of their wines by simultaneously drinking and listening to the right kind of music. (and that’s fabulous news )

Professor Spence of Oxford University discovered that the brain (yes yours, no matter how big or small ) and therefore taste, is influenced by ‘outside’ forces when eating and drinking.

So to make your wine taste better choose your background music wisely.

He found that humans want to match sensations to taste and said the following apply

Malbec works well with instruments like the organ

The Grape Wizard suggests the following Music for Malbec

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Mike Oldfield

prodigo_malbec_web_1

Prodigo Malbec Honest Grapes £27.20

 Sauvignon Blanc,works well with light white wines and is suitable to listen to harp music.

The Grape Wizard suggests the following Music for S.B

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Anne Roos

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Greywacke Wines Direct £15.95

  • Sweet wines, such as a Late Harvest Riesling, matches with music with an even rhythm, slow tempo and high pitch yet soft. Piano music is best.
  • Sour wines, like red Italians such as Barbera, correspond with music that has a syncopated rhythm, fast tempo and a high pitch. Brass instruments are good.
  • Fino Sherry and other salty wines are also good with brass instruments but prefer staccato.
  • Wines with fruity aromas such as Beaujolais matches with a high pitch, whereas wines with smokey (Margaux), dark chocolate (Nero d’Avola) or cedar (Bordeaux) match with a low pitch.
  • High tannin wines correspond with rock guitar of chunky, gritty strings and full bodied wines match with a symphonic orchestra.

The Grape Wizard suggests the following Music for high tannin wines

FooFightersGreatestHits-1

Foo Fighters

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Nebbiolo Lea and Sandeman £12.75

 

Sound can also entirely change the taste and texture of the wine. For example, if you listen to powerful and heavy music, this will make the wine taste more powerful and heavy, or if you listen to mellow and soft music, the taste of the wine will correspond.

He also found ;

  • Wines with a strong orange aroma such as Sauternes, correspond with music that is bright, sharp and dynamic. A rhythm that is lively and fast. Think Bieber
  • Vanilla flavours, such as American-oaked Chardonnay match with music with a soft even rhythm and a slow tempo. Sting

Charles Spence explaining his theories at Google UK Sept 2015. Have a look !!

https://youtube/JgUVjKsP_wc

You can even match wine to musical genres…

See if you agree :

Rock n’ roll  is Cabernet Sauvignon = host of styles and quality,  but when its good its really good. Chuck berry is favourite

chuck-berry-birthday-retrospective-e27defee-fb69-453e-8672-b785652b2f60

shopping

Inglenook Cab. Sauvignon 2009 £93

Jazz is Cabernet Franc. Roy Ayers

200-1roy-2

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Ricitelli Cabernet Franc Great Wines Direct £27.60

Gamay and Electro just work.  Gamay is sharp, funky, fresh. It’s the aperitif to the main course  Bonobo

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Moulin a vent Fraziers Wine Merchants £19.99

“Moscato is like pop music. Sweet as honey and straight forward. Ellie Goulding

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I could talk this week about a different wine,  a different region or even a different grape variety but I think its important to have the bigger picture in front of you .

Enjoying wine is not just about trying the 20 point test that most individuals in the wine industry are programmed to learn characteristic by characteristic.

Available on request ( just seeing if you are reading this !!!)

What is important is to surround your self with the appreciation of wine (what ever the cost) and enrich the moment irrespective of value.

Expensive watches and expensive cars are trappings of perceived success and cannot be savoured over a good wine and good music (no they cant ! ) wine can enrich the moment……. but wine with music is a different kettle of fish

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“a kettle of fish “

once you have this right your life is complete

Have the right mood and you appreciate the right music. Which is why we listen to relaxing melancholy music when we want to chill out and upbeat modern music when we want to exercise.

I was laughed at by my peers a few years ago for daring to suggest wine and music in the same sentence and yet here i am.

If you have looked at my blog over the last 10 weeks you would of noticed that at the end of every blog I add a music pairing , some cool , some on trend, some even out of fashion  but all recommendations can be enjoyed in the moment with the right wine.

But after all of this you know what I’m going to say. Either you believer this or you don’t.

If you look at the very notion of pairing wine with the Lunar Calendar and listening to suitably paired music and you agree with it and then put this in context with wine then………

Then you must have a Zen moment. Things are in sync. and the wine music pairing works.

Trust me I’m a dog !

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Only you will know if only you will try

Go on be a devil !!!

Do you believe music can be paired with wine to enhance the experience ?

Please click on link ABOVE  to take part in the poll

As a treat here’s this week overall  music pairing in video format from a discovery this week – enjoy

 

Enjoy life, enjoy the moment but above all enjoy the wine !

From Montelauro to Ochio Rias – well almost!! Just a little closer and arguably a lot prettier ! 

Having spent a wonderful 2 weeks in Puglia 2 years ago I thought this time would be time repeating itself .  Puglia has grown to be one of my favourite places in the world. Gone are the glitzy sidewalks of California.  Gone are the elegant Parisian pavements. Even the mere hint of a passigiata is rarely seen.  I was here ( with the better half ) for a wedding down in the heart ❤️ of Italy. In a place where only locals go and in a place so tranquil you can hear a cat 🐱 tiptoe.

The wedding was for a good work friend of mine and his long suffering (now) wife  The hotel was fabulous and so was the hospitality. (Please visit the website : Montelauro)

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Monopoli

I did have a booking at grotto palazzese (Restaurant in the rocks) but having read the  reviews i saw that you would be paying premium rate just to have the chance of sitting at potentially 1 of 6 tables sea-side with overated food and super expensive bills  . The odds were against it we declined this time !. We had earlier in the week visited La sommita and that was out of this world (michelin starred and didnt dissapoint !)

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Because the Wallet was in meltdown we opted for this view from the terrace of the restaurant in Monopoli …

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Wasn’t a hard choice to make !!!

We settled for  Terrace restaurant . Fabulous setting and super great location. We watched the 🌅 and settled down to 3 courses. Being a seaside town we had a glorious choice of the best fish. What we got was very average  squid 🐙 and dishes that were a bit bland. It seems like this part of Italy has the sun and location but what lets them down is  the lack of specialist abilities that offer modern twist on cooking.  It’s not often I refuse food but this time too much of one thing made me feel 🤢. Great atmosphere,great location just ok food !

One thing Puglia has to its credit is the emerging cottage industry that is gin and olive oil and the very recent observation that Italian cooking is getting modern and sexy.

( Cucini Komera)

 

Late on in the week long holiday we stayed in a lovely apartment hosted by Albergo diffuse –  A stones throw from all the action of Monopoli

We even found through chatting to locals that there was a guy who was making gin out of olive oil EVO Gin

Wine 🍷 we bought primitivo a lovely gin (with cinnemon )& negramaro

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(All three will be tasted and reported on , i promise )

but here are the links in the meantime

Quota 29

Jerry Thomas project

Polvanera

 So after a busy week  which felt like a 2 week holiday we were ready to return to the uk.

In essence this holiday could be life changing. A lot of love was felt for this region but is this experience mearly just a dream or will we jump off into the unkown , only time will tell. Reading between the lines i think what will happen is that this event contributed to what’s about to happen   Enriching the soul ( and I’m not spiritual) is becoming a central part to most people’s lives as we grow ever more stressed at the day to day .9-5

Apologies for short blog this week

Jason

 

World Gin week- delayed because I’m on holiday drinking Amalfi Gin & Tonic in Italia !

I could make this as dry as gin itself but I’ll try and compact 300 years into a blog post and make it easy to read !!!

A few points of history  (The geeky bit )

  • A Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius

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(Here he is ! 😜)

…is often falsely credited with the invention of gin around 1650.  Here is why:

  • The first ever literary reference to jenever  ( original term for gin)  was in a play “The Duke of Milan” (1623), when Sylvius would have been nine!
  • English soldiers in 1585 were already drinking jenever for its calming effects before battle, from which “Dutch Courage” is believed to have originated.
  • The earliest known reference to jenever appears in the 13th century encyclopaedic work Der Naturen Bloeme (Bruges),
  • And the earliest printed recipe for jenever dating from 16th century work Een Constelijck Distileerboec (Antwerp).

Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, When William of Orange,

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(these guys don’t do anything for the Alpha Males!!)

Ruler of the Dutch Republic, occupied the British throne with his wife Mary – gin became vastly more popular, particularly in it’s crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to be flavoured with turpentine as an alternative to juniper.

The formation by King Charles I of the Worshipful Company of Distillers (WCD), where members had the sole right to distil spirits in London and Westminster and up to twenty-one miles beyond improved both the quality of gin and its image; it also helped English agriculture by using surplus corn and barley. Anyone could now distil by simply posting a notice in public and just waiting ten days (if only it were so simple nowadays!).  Sometimes gin was distributed to workers as part of their wages and soon the volume sold daily exceeded that of beer and ale, which was more expensive anyway.

In 1729, an excise licence of £20 was introduced and two shillings per gallon duty was levied. In addition to which, retailers now required a licence. This almost suppressed good gin but it was the quantity consumed of bad spirits which continued to rise.😪

In 1730 London had over 7,000 shops that sold only spirits.

William Hogarth in his ‘Gin Lane’, an engraving depicting gin drinking at the time portrays a scene of idleness, vice and misery, leading to madness and death. Typical of the time and showcases how bad it must of been!

See below

Gin-lane ART 2

The Gin Riots

The problem was tackled by introducing The Gin Act in 1736, which made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy retail being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act since they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out. About this time, 11 million gallons of gin were distilled in London, which was over 20 times the 1690 figure and has been estimated to be the equivalent of 14 gallons for each adult male. But within six years of the Gin Act being introduced, only two distillers took out licences, yet, over the same period of time, production rose by almost fifty per cent.

The Gin Act, finally recognised as unenforceable, was repealed in 1742 and a new policy, which distillers helped to draft was introduced: reasonably high prices, reasonable excise duties and licensed retailers under the supervision of magistrates.  Still applicable today.

These changes led to more respectable firms embarking on the business of distilling and retailing gin and it became the drink of high quality, which it has since remained.

Gin had been known as ‘Mother’s Milk’ from the 1820s but later in the century it became known as ‘Mother’s Ruin’, a description perhaps originating from the earlier ‘Blue Ruin’ of the prohibition era in the previous century.

As reforms took effect, so the gin production process became more refined. Gin evolved to become a delicate balance of  elegance and began its ascent into high society.

Ok you get the picture…

Jump forward to 2009 and HMRC receives applications for not one, but two microdistilleries in London: Sipsmith in Hammersmith, and Sacred in Highgate. There was a problem, however. HMRC didn’t know how to deal with them.  Licences had not been issued in such a long time that the process was somewhat outdated

 

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the licences were dispatched, and the two craft distilleries were in business.

 

Sipsmith Website                                 Sacred Gin Website

Ian Hart of Sacred – who cold distills his gins, vodka and vermouths using his laboratory set up in his living room – remembers how difficult it was in the early days. ‘Back in 2009 when we and Sipsmith started, people had only really heard about Gordon’s, Beefeater, Tanqueray… the idea that there was a two-man band operating out of their house was very unusual, and it was a real uphill struggle to start with. But it’s a lot easier now, because there’s a lot more enthusiasm for new artisan gins.’

The UK has come a long way since 2009 – HMRC are now prepared and willing to work with new craft distillers to help get them set up with the required licences, and this step change has had a positive effect.

‘There was a wave of craft distillers starting up in America, and that really inspired what happened in the UK – the first wave was Chase [in Herefordshire], Sipsmith and Sacred,’ says Jamie Baxter, master distiller at COLD, who used to be the distiller at Chase. ‘We’re part of the second wave that’s coming through at the moment, and the third wave is just about to start.’

 

 

VESPER MARTINI

 

Now onto drinking the stuff.  One of the best ways to appreciate its unique characteristics is in a classic Martini.  My favourite is The Vesper which according to Ian Fleming Is 007’s cocktail of choice, shaken not stirred naturally:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
-Casino Royale, Chapter 7

 

Gin-lane ART 5

GIN 50 cl and Tonic 1 measure of gin and three of tonic 150cl

and because I am writing this from Italy here is the Italian way of drinking it:

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NEGRONI

1 oz. dry gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. vermouth rosso
cocktail glass

So what ever you do this week  what ever gin you choose  just enjoy yourself and dont let anyone tell you there are set rules for what gin goes.  Of course enjoy the classics but there are so many to choose from nowadays, all with their own aromatic and distinctive character. It would be a shame to stop at Gordon’s, Tanqueray or even Sipsmith.  It may not turn out to be your forever favourite but it just might be! That’s the fun of discovering something new.  I for one am on the hunt this week for a local Apuglian gin – I might find a blinder or I might not but the enjoying the experience is what counts!

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Please send me photos of you gin pick today to thegrapewizard@gmail.com  Salute!!

See these fab links for more stuff

World Gin Awards 2017

Best London Gin Bars

Best Gins in NYC

Famous Gin moments in the movies,tv and books

Tiger Gin – Big brave and ready to take on the world – and that’s only JJ Lawrence

tiger 1

If ever there was David and Goliath moment . This was it!  An event of a global super brand taking on a minnow And loosing ! (High court battle against Heineken) 😀

Tiger Gin had a problem on its hands and Heineken though it could squash the annoying little bug 🐜 and protect their brand. Heineken had argued that “tiger gin” and “tiger 🐯 beer ” were  too closely linked and that one would damage the image of the other.  The judges in the court case overthrew Heineken’s objections and the end result was that Tiger Gin got its name and I get to try this product to see what all the fuss is about.

JJ Lawrence (owner of Tiger Gin) followed his passion and produced a new class of luxury British Spirit using only the finest botanicals and spices, carefully chosen from the best harvests from around the world.

A formula that gives the taste a smooth and sweet feel.

Distilled and bottled in the UK.

It was named TIGER GIN  due to the long drawn out fight with JJ and the courageous actions for the little guy to take on a global company.

tiger 41/6/17 Setting up the fabulous Gin !

Having won a legal battle in the High Court, this Shropshire gin is the ‘baby’ of a Shropshire lad – JJ Lawrence. It is crafted in England by artisan master distillers using traditional methods, and proudly presented in a unique bottle with great care and affection. Working alongside a local distiller they have created a unique, complex formula. which results in a great tasting, smooth, sweet gin.

Below (if you’ve never seen them are the ingredients for TG.)

Image result for angelica root

 

 Angelica root

cassia bark

 Image result for cinnamon bark

cinnamon bark

 Image result for ground nutmeg

 
ground nutmeg

Image result for lemon peel

lemon peel

liquorice root


 Image result for orange peel

orange peel

orris root

The taste test.

Aroma : Strong Juniper and a zesty lemon drizzle cake citrus

To taste, Strong juniper and liquorice fill the mouth – slightly sweet. Coriander seed, cinnamon and cassia bring a waxy lemon finish.

Tiger is classically styled gin to taste as the gin slides down the throat easily . Rich juniper enhances the classic G&T taste and in terms of a cocktail. In terms of a cocktail, the liquid makes for a lovely, traditional Martini.

Image result for traditional martini

 

One thing that is mysterious is …. who is JJ Lawrence. A quick search of the internet shows little evidence of the man/ or woman behind this fabulous product.  Maybe that the way it’s supposed to happen ,  maybe the brand speaks louder than the people behind it.

Any info on the man the myth is greatly appreciated .

Music Pairing :  Ludivico Einaudi  – Elements

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So to sum up upon tasting the gin i was very surprised at how much a couple of slices of oranges made to the drink . very much a big citrus punch juniper came through like a steamroller but all ingredients are symbiotic and harmonize the overall character of the product. A must have addition in any cocktail cabinet