Phil Green from the blog Phil my glass shares his extensive knowledge of wine and give us his top bottles for those who normally choose grain over grapes.
Wine and beer can be so alike. Both have a plethora of styles and flavours from different areas of the world and can express where and how they were made allowing the drinker to connect with a place or person.
Usually a person will fall into one category or the other, a beer drinker or wine drinker. Here I have tried to give my top 5 recommendations of wines that a beer drinker can appreciate as well.
McGuigans Black Label Shiraz
Neil McGuigan is currently at the helm of this winery and comes from a family of winemakers that hail from the Hunter Valley in Sydney. His ethos is “make the wine the hero”. Widely available this wine does exactly what is should. Expressive of the fruit from the grape variety, you can expect plenty of luscious ripe black cherry and plum with hints of pepper and a pleasant balance between acid and residual sugar. The wine more than over-delivers at it’s price point as well and for anyone that is used to drinking fruity and full bodied beers this is an excellent parallel.
Cantina Mesa ‘Primo Bianco’ Vermentino di Sardegna
This is from a winery established by Gavino Sanna. Gavino is a Sardinian who, after 50 years in the advertising business in Milan and New York, gave it all up and returned to Sardinia to make wine. A student of Andy Warhol, he decided he wanted to return to the island life of Sardinia, having made his name in advertising, and would use his wine as a calling card for the island he heralded from. A comparable wine to a saison style of beer, this has notes of light ginger spice, white flowers and citrus fruit, such as lemon and lime. Light in body, it goes beautifully with fish and is perfect for sipping on a hot day.
Zeni Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
This is my wine of choice for those who like a rich and big flavours. Amarone wine is made by drying grapes out on straw mats until they raisin. A process called apassimento. The flavours of the grapes are concentrated through this process, due to the reduced dilution of water. Once fermented, the wine is aged in oak casks for variable lengths of time, allowing the wine to take on additional flavours from the oak. The slow and controlled oxidation from oak aging will also develop additional flavours that will add body and depth to the wine. The result is a full bodied, rich and high alcohol wine, typically not less than 15%. Flavours of aged rum, leather, figs, prunes, raisins and smoke will be accompanied by some residual sugar. This wine can be a meal within itself and is not for the faint hearted. But for those looking for something to envelop them, Amarone della Valpolicella will reward your senses.
Brut Cava – Various Producers
Cava is the Spanish equivalent to Champagne. Made in the same way, but usually with grapes indigenous to the local Catalan area that it comes from, such as Parellada and Xarello. A light style wine is fermented with a low alcohol of around 10%, with high and refreshing acid. Some extra sugar mixture is added to the wine in the bottle with a little extra yeast and this is then left to ferment for a second time inside the bottle. The resulting carbon dioxide cannot escape and is therefore absorbed into the wine, creating the bubbles. This is one for the lager or lighter beer style drinkers. With it’s light, bready and citrus flavours, this is just as bubbly and refreshing as a pils. It usually doesn’t have the price tag of a Champagne as well, so can be drunk regularly after those long days at work.
Andre Bonhomme ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Vire Clesse
This is a beautiful Chardonnay from a top producer in Burgundy. Vire Clesse is an appellation within the sub region of the Maconnais and will usually be rich, creamy, buttery and have delicious ripe fruit, vintage dependant of course. Vire Clesse is a new appellation, which was created in 1998 and Andre Bonhomme was the first producer in the area to produce and bottle his own wine. The vineyards use sheep to keep grass growth in check and all grapes are picked by hand to make sure only the best quality make it into the wine. With it’s rounded palate and full body this wine would be a comparison to a fruity and slightly sweet wheat beer. Lush fruit such as pineapple, peach and nectarine are complemented by a honeyed back palate and good acidity to keep the fruit fresh. Peaches and cream are what this wine remind me of and an absolute must for the beer drinker looking for those round ripe flavours.