A warm Vinelives welcome to Londoner Louise Dunne – a keen blogger. She offered to write something for us so naturally we said yes. Here’s her varietal experience! Thanks Louise and over to you ……..
I’ve long held an appreciation for a well-matched food and wine pairing, enjoying a well curated wine list of lesser known varieties and holding a preference for wine counters over pubs, but my interest in wine tasting is more recent.
Last winter my sister Ciara was visiting for the weekend and we spent an evening at Streatham Wine House, a neighbourhood wine bar I’m lucky to call my local. They boast an extensive wine list ranging from classic favourites to adventurous wines from around the globe served by the bottle, glass or in 50ml flights complete with tasting notes across six categories.
Normally Ciara is strictly a Sauvignon Blanc drinker but was willing to break with tradition in a white wine flight. Matt, the bar manager, decided to challenge her preference for Sauvignon Blanc by giving her a blind taste test of one Sauvignon Blanc and two wines he was sure she’d also like.
Presenting her with the paddle of flights with the tasting notes hidden, it took Ciara a very quick sniff and sip to correctly guess the Sauvignon Blanc. Nice try, but you can’t trick a Sauvignon Blanc diehard that easily.
We laughed at my latest failed attempt to convert her to new wines and carried on chatting and drinking. It was only half way through her second glass she admitted that she liked her second wine a lot better, even though the Sauvignon Blanc was closer to what she normally tried.
A breakthrough. She was drinking a well-balanced, medium bodied Vermentino which wasn’t too acidic. Our typical haunt when I visit her in Dublin is an Italian wine bar close to Dublin’s famous Ha’penny Bridge called Encoteca Della Laghe, modelled on the typical encotecas of Northern Italy with a great selection of antipasti and wines by the glass, so her choice was unsurprising, but encouraging!
We compared the tasting notes from our favourite wines from the flights and established that while I prefer very dry, full-bodied whites with a stronger savoury finish and typically favoured Northern Spanish whites, neither of us liked highly floral, off dry wines or any whites with tropical fruit as the dominant aroma.
This felt like a revelation. Armed with our newly acquired vocabulary of wine terms we spent the weekend touring wine bars of South West London asking for recommendations for something balanced, medium bodied, preferably citrus, opening ourselves to new varieties such as Reisling, Chenin Blanc and Pecorino.
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Since then, I’ve learned how to read wine labels, know my black fruit-heavy from my jammy reds and know how to tell if I’ll like a Chardonnay or not by reading up on the terroir.
After asking for a full-bodied, high mineral, bone dry white with a strong finish in more than a few independent wine shops and being asked if I’m studying for WSET, my husband took the plunge for me and has booked me onto a course this autumn.
While I have a long while to go to mastering a blind taste test like my Sauvignon Blanc loving sister, for now I’m excited to dabble in the world of wine appreciation on my blog and share my “wine words” with friends on social media.
When not in her day job in eCommerce, she can usually be found scouting London neighbourhoods for independent wine shops and the best wines by the glass, preferably dog friendly venues that stock hearty Swartland whites. She’s never met a cheese and wine pairing she didn’t like but is always willing to branch out to other snack categories.