Friday, 28 February 2014

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Winery Visit

Taking a trip out to a winery is becoming a popular tourist activity for wine enthusiasts and lay people alike. Considering the breadth and scope of a visit to a winery, what can you do to make the most of your trip?
A winery is so much more than a vineyard these days. In countries such as France, Spain, Italy and the US it is a tourist attraction that draws in millions of people every year.

It’s obvious why. Vineyards are by nature stunningly picturesque and for wine enthusiasts they offer the perfect chance to sample what the winery has coming up in the next season. For non-enthusiasts it presents a unique opportunity to learn more about the wine making process.

However considering just how vast the opportunities are that come with such a visit, how can you make the most of your time? There are a few simple tips that you can follow to do just that.

Start by having knowledge of what the winery actually produces. In this case it’s not enough to be a wine buff; you need to at least have a basic knowledge off their particular product. That way you have a base of knowledge on which the visit can build and you can come to some unique insights. A trip to winery really is a learning experience.

It’s also important to have an open wine. These wineries are so varied in what they produce and when it comes tie for the taste testing, there’ going to be something there that you are unfamiliar with. Don’t let this hold you back, embrace the unknown. You never know what this new experience could bring to you.

Also try going off the beaten track if you can. It’s always wise to start off by taking the official tour, but after that it’ll just hold you back. If you have the opportunity hire a car and find the hidden gems that can only be found off the beaten track. This’ll make it a unique experience you’ll always remember.

Finally take the taster approach. Taste, let the wine slide to sides of your tongue then spit. This isn’t a time to drink to get drunk. By taking the taster approach you can cleanse your palette and gain the opportunity to experience all the different types of drink the winery has to offer.

At the Ideal Wine Company we applaud those wineries that make themselves open to the greater public; after all how can people learn about this amazing tradition if they don’t have access to it? When you get the opportunity to visit a winery make the most of it!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Monasteries: The Cradle of Modern Viticulture

Reading about the Vatican’s prominence in the world of wine this week reminds us here at the Ideal Wine Company of the role religion has played in the wine trade for centuries. That’s why we wanted to explore the role of monasteries in modern viticulture.

It’s no secret that wine was a staple of the ancient world. Civilisations from the Egyptians to the Babylonians to the Assyrians to the Persians, Greeks and Romans all counted wine as a part of their daily lives. This led to the infamous inclusion of wine as part of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.

This is where the monastic wine tradition originates from; through the inclusion of wine in a ceremony (communion) designed to mimic the Last Supper. In order to have a constant supply on hand for ceremonies it was practical for monasteries to get involved in the wine trade.

It was all very practical but viticulture faced dangerous times after the fall of the Roman Empire, as did many other vestiges of the former super power. Indeed in the western world of the time, these practises only survived the dark ages due to their involvement from the monastic community.

This meant that not only did monks become the most prolific winemakers in Christendom; they also were the ones who wrote great literature, who produced great art, who became philosophers and appreciators of the classics. Ancient culture survived to influence the intellectuals of the enlightenment period largely in part because of the efforts of the monastic community.

This dedication has meant that the monastic community became responsible for spreading viticulture throughout the new world. When the Spanish began colonising the America’s, for example, the monks planted vineyards so that they would have a supply of communion wine. This was the birth of the California wine trade.

This period also saw the community contribute heavily to one of the worlds most beloved wine traditions; that enjoyed by France, the most famous maker of wine internationally. Monks had key roles in the creation of famous French products including most notably Champagne and Cognac.

The monastic tradition was in large part responsible for many of the luxury wines that we feature on the Ideal Wine Company product list today. This is why we always have to remember that innovation and creation in this most diverse industry comes from the most unusual places. It really is a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Vatican City: Wine Capital of the World

Believe it or not readers this week reports have confirmed one fact; Vatican City is the wine capital of the world. Why exactly is this and what does it say about larger global wine trends?

Despite the fact that Vatican City, an enclave inside the Italian capital of Rome, is the smallest country of the world, and despite the fact that only boasts a population of roughly 800, it is the wine capital of the world. This is because data shows that more wine is drunk, per person, than in any other country.

Specifically data shows that people who live in Vatican City on average drink 74 litres in one year. This is actually roughly the equivalent of 105 bottles which means that they would be drinking one bottle every three days.

This actually stands at double the amount per person drunk by the populations of wine havens France and Italy. It’s actually triple the amount drunk by people at home here in the UK. So why is this? What really makes the Vatican the wine capital of the world?

One thing we have to think about here is demographics. Whichever way you look at it even the most ignorant person cannot deny that the Vatican has a somewhat unrepresentative of the rest of the world demographic. After all the Vatican is the traditional seat of power of the Papacy, the leadership of Catholicism.

So obviously communion services, which regularly involve the use of wine, come into play here. However aside from this, the population of the Vatican is old white males that are highly educated and eat in large groups.  These demographics all contribute to the fact that people in the Vatican drink more wine than anyone else in the world.

Here we see how wine has played a key role in the culture of the western world for centuries. The Catholic Church has performed communion with the use of wine, to mimic Christ, for as long as anybody can remember and it makes sense that in light of this the Vatican, a community of Catholic priests and officials, would be the wine capital of the world.

At the Ideal Wine Company this reminds us of the history and cultural value of wine. It’s been around longer than almost anything else and that history is still factoring into its popularity today. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

UK Wine Market Set to Boom in 2014

Predictions released this week predict that the usually lacklustre UK wine market is set for a bright 2014. What does this mean for the luxury wine trade?

At the Ideal Wine Company we recognise that when we think of luxury wine, we tend to think of wine from countries such as France, Italy, Argentina and Australia. This is the way the world thinks; this is because these countries are known to have the best weather and geological condition to grow wine.

However the economic downturn has seen less people buying these types of luxury wine. This comes down to a lack of expendable  income from consumers in the UK market; people budgeted more in the wake  of the financial crisis and luxury wines were one of the first items that people struck from their budgets in hard times.

However the UK wine industry has actually been on the rise over the past few years and experts predict that 2014 may be a boom year for the UK wine industry.

This news comes from a report released by Rabobank, a Dutch bank, which noted that the improvement of the UK economy along with a recovery in global grape harvest could see a stronger 2014 for the nations wine industry.

The report noted that despite the facts that main wine producer France has seen two poor wine harvests in a row, other key wine growing markets have boomed. Spain’s 2013 crop saw a rise of almost 40% to 49.5 million hectolitres according to the report and California looks set to equal or surpass its record breaking 2012 harvest.

Contributing to this positive outlook is the fact that the report identifies middle aged women and baby boomers as the key demographic for the UK wine industry. The report noted of these core demographics that “there are signs that these consumers are becoming more and more responsive to more diverse offers and even more premium offers when they are given a convincing reason to shift.”

So it’s like an equation; a greater harvest plus more responsive consumers equals a growing industry. This could logically lead to a growth in the luxury wine industry particularly as people turn to a greater quality product to quench their need for the best wine experience possible.

At the Ideal Wine Company we see this as an exciting time for the UK wine industry as it is set to grow and diversify. It’ll be interesting to see what 2014 brings. 

Turkey: Experiencing a Wine Renaissance?

Experts in the wine industry are getting increasingly excited about a new crop of Turkish wines. Considering that Turkey has never really appealed before to the public as a large player in the industry, we ask the question, is Turkey at long last experiencing a wine renaissance?

When you think of wine making regions in Europe your mind immediately goes to the stereotypical places; Champagne, Bordeaux, Rioja, Chianti etc. These regions have established a centuries long tradition for wine production.

What you don’t think of is Turkey; no notable wines to speak of have ever gripped the international wine community. We don’t feature any Turkish wines on our luxury wine list at the moment and most other luxury wine providers don’t either.

However it’s easy to forget that Turkey, as a stalwart of the Mid-Mediterranean and a crucial crossing point from Europe to Asia, was once an integral part of the ancient world. In this world, Turkey, along with countries such as Italy, Greece and Israel had a robust wine making tradition. The popularity of the drink across the ancient world demanded it.

It seems, however, that Turkey’s ancient penchant for viticulture is experiencing renewed interest from wine experts across the world. This renewed interest has come off the back of a steady crop of heady reds and elegant whites currently coming out Anatolian vineyards.

Take a trip into modern Istanbul and you’ll see for yourself. As a 90% Muslim nation, most of Turkey doesn’t have a fondness for wine. However metropolitan Istanbul is the exception to the rule. The city that once stood under the banner of Constantine is a veritable breeding ground for wines originating from ancient viticulture traditions in regions such as Thrace, Ephesus and the Mediterranean coast.

When we look at it from face value, it’s easy to see why Turkey would make good wine. It actually boasts a climate comparable to that of France, the wine making centre of the universe. The topography of the nation is also similar. These favourable conditions have seen bottles from famous Turkish wineries such as Doluca and Vinkara become popular all over Europe.

There are three popular Turkish wines in particular that you should sample if you get the chance. The first is Cankaya, a strong white that will certainly leave an impression. The second is Kalecik-Karasi, a medium bodied ruby-red affair. The third is Boazkere-Öküzgözü, a rich red blend number.

The Turkish renaissance has reminded us here at the Ideal Wine Company what a fast paced industry this is. Things are always moving, always changing and it’s one of the best jobs in the world seeing where it will go next. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

What Percentage of Alcohol Do You Want in a Bottle of Wine?

Across the board experts agree that the percentage of alcohol a wine boasts can directly affect the quality of the drink in question. So saying this, what percentage of alcohol should be looking for in your bottle of wine?

At the Ideal Wine Company we’ve seen alcohol percentage directly affect the drinking experience; too low and it can often come out tasting like juice and too high and the heady experience the drink creates can limit your ability to actually enjoy the flavour.

A recent culture has emerged for the production of low alcohol wines (particularly white). Those in favour argue the case based on health and taste grounds and consumers across the world seem to be embracing low alcohol and non-alcoholic wines.

However a study was recently conducted that proves that at least in the case of red wine, this perception is somewhat misguided across the wine industry. The study showed that consumers generally preferred red wines measuring a 13.6% alcohol content.

The study was conducted by the Australia Wine Research Institute; spearheaded by lead author of the study Dr Keren Bindon. It saw a series of five Cabernet Sauvignon’s whose grapes had been harvested between one and four weeks apart, sampled by 100 consumers.

The bottles in question had alcohol content ranging from 11.8% to 15.5%, the usual range for alcoholic content in wine. The study discovered that those wines with “intermediate alcohol levels” (13.6% according to the study) were most favoured by consumers. Those with lower alcohol contents, 11.8% and 12.9% came in second and third.

This also pointed to trends concerned the ripeness of the fruit used in wine production. Those with lower alcoholic content were picked earlier in the season, those with higher alcoholic content later. He study concluded that those picked later in the season were preferred by the population sample.

Bindon has since explained that she thought that wines with even higher alcohol content, ranging between 14.2% and 15.5% would be favoured by consumer, however she went on to say that the study proved that consumers didn’t agree. She went on to say that this means that “you can actually bring alcohol down naturally in the vineyard, as you’re not gaining anything from a consumer standpoint by waiting for flavour and texture to change.” 

At the Ideal Wine Company we find the results of this study fascinating.  Furthermore we think that this goes some way to proving that there is always more to learn about wine; you never know it all. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Is Wine An Investment?

With markets crashing and rallying what seems like every few seconds, investors are looking to more stable opportunities to diversify and strengthen their portfolio. Saying that we want to ask could wine be a lucrative investment?

At the Ideal Wine Company we recognise that wine, especially luxury wine, means different things to different people. For some its stress relief, for others it’s a collector’s passion, for yet others it’s almost a lifestyle.

However we’ve also recognised that wine can be an opportunity for many who are looking for a stable long term investment. In fact increasingly wine aficionados across the world are discovering that wine ages well in the financial market.

It would be easy to see why. The one rule that holds steady across wines of every genre concerns age. The older a wine is, the longer it has had to age, the better it tastes. This is why wines produced an age ago often fetch higher prices than those bottled last year. 

It also proves they’ve stood the test of time. Wines come and go; this is such a large, such a diverse industry that it has to have something truly unique to appreciate in value as it ages. Those wines that do increase in value often do so because they have been proved superior over the course of their long life.

So, wine that is older generally fetches higher prices, does this translate into investment? It could, depending on how you play it.

Any collector could build up their basement with bottles of top quality wine and allow them to gather dust. Then they can watch when they become collector’s items and sell them on, making a steady profit. This is actually quite a common practice in the wine world; showing that it works as a small scale investment.
However, truly outstanding wines attract large investors. Most people who engage in wine investment are bit players, like those outlined above. However it is becoming increasingly possible to make a large profit in the wine trade.

Take the Bordeaux 1982 vintage for example. Experts agree that this was the wine that changed everything. On the back of the quality alone, this wine saw prices shoot up on the market as demand for the Bordeaux skyrocketed.

Therefore it became rarer and these days a case can go for handsome number. Take a case of 1982 Chateau Latour for example. In 1982 this would have sold for $400. Today it would sell for around $33,000; a handsome profit for any investor.

So wine can be an investment; however it has to be of truly stellar quality. Start building up your wine ‘investment portfolio’ today from the Ideal Wine Company list of luxury wines. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tips for mixing up White Wine

At the Ideal Wine Company we recognise that not everybody likes to drink their white wine straight up, some people have different tastes. So we thought we spend some time this we giving you some tips and tricks you can use to put a different spin on white wine.

White wine naturally is the most versatile type of wine there is. You can get white wines that differ dramatically in the fruit they’re flavoured with, how dry they are, how sweet they are etc. and this means that there really is a type of white wine for everybody out there.

However different types of white wine suit different people, some people don’t want to drink white wine straight up. Some people like variety, to stray from the norm. So how can you do this?

You could always make a white wine spritzer by adding soda or lemonade to roughly half a glass of white wine. The best thing about a spritzer is that not only does it add extra fizz to your drink; it can make the wine less dry or sweet, depending on whether you use soda or lemonade, so that it suits your tastes.

Or why not try ice wine. Wine on the rocks is a surprisingly popular drink in the hot months of the summer. Despite the fact that people don’t think of white wine as an ‘on the rocks’ type drink most bars offer it and the water means that the alcohol content gets watered down a little and the drink won’t go to your head.

Or why not try adding a champagne liqueur. A champagne liqueur is a type of flavoured liqueur that you add to champagne to give it a little kick. However because champagne is so similar to white wine you can use it with white wine as well. It tastes wonderful and you can get different flavours depending on what you want out of your glass of wine.

Or why not try adding juice. It may seem an unusual choice and you may need to experiment with measures but juice can really work with white wine. Why not try orange or lemon juice for an interesting drink. Try it out and see what you think.

White wine is an amazing drink but sometimes we all want a little change and we experiment. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your glass of white wine, you might be surprised with what you get. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

What Wine Will You Be Getting For Your Valentine?

The official day of love is almost upon us and no Valentine’s Day date is complete without a bottle or luxury wine to get you both in the mood. That is why this week the Ideal Wine Company has decided to ask what wine will you be getting for your Valentine?

Each type of wine has its own merits and its own drawbacks. Rather than go through every wine on our extensive luxury wine list, we thought we’d go through types. Which type of wine is the best to use to set and atmosphere and get your partner in the mood?

An absolute classic, champagne is the ultimate luxury wine to get you and your partner in the mood. A light yet bubble laced drink, Champagne just tastes of romance and the price tag makes you feel like it’s a special occasion. However the price tag can mean that it’s not for everyone.

We have a whole host of luxury champagnes on the Ideal Wine Company list, if you want something that will really make the evening perfect why not try our Dom Perignon 2000 which you can get for as little as £140 a  bottle.

Red Wine
Red wine’s heavier texture makes it a perfect one for sitting with your partner by the fire and battling away the winter chill. Red wine sits nicely on your tongue and gives you that little extra flavor you need to set the night off perfectly.

We have many red wines available or you, however considering the nature of Valentine’s Day you might want to go for a lighter Bordeaux.  Why not try our Chateau Latour 1983 which you can purchase for £429.

White Wine
White wine is the most versatile type of wine there is; you can get all types that cater to all flavours. If you’re not sure what type of wine your partner will most appreciate then white wine really is the way to go.

For Valentine’s we’d suggest a nice dry white. Dry white is one that most people like and it goes well with a lot of lighter pasta based dishes, perfectly complimenting your Valentine’s meal. We’d suggest from our list the Harlan Estate 1998 which you can buy for £429.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Highlights of Cooking With Wine

At the Ideal Wine Company we recognise that wine is such a versatile product. That is why this week we wanted to move away from drinking wine and talk about cooking with wine. Saying this, what are the highlights of cooking with wine?
Whether you realise it or not, many of the top dishes you sample when you get the time to sojourn to a posh restaurant feature wine in some way or another.
The most common method is to cook with wine. Often wine will be stirred into the sauce, however it is possible to cook with wine by frying it. There are many methods that modern chefs use to capitalise on the versatile benefits of wine.
When you cook with wine often the heat will burn of the alcoholic content and you’ll be left with the flavour, the body of the drink etc. This is why cooking with a luxury wine can add that extra touch to make a meal extra special.
Saying this there are many complex diverse dishes you can cook with wine, however we certainly do have our favourites. Here are our top three.
Burgundy Pork Sirloin
It’s as delicious as it sounds. It’s a classic pork sirloin dish with rich gravy and onion and celery accents, which capitalises on the rich qualities of burgundy style red wines to add a touch of flavor to give the sirloin that extra little kick.
It’s quite an easy one to prepare; about two cups of red wine should do it. You add the wine after you’ve put the pork and other ingredients into an oven dish. You pour the wine all over the sirloin and it soaks in as it works its magic.
Chicken and Red Wine Sauce
This is an absolutely classic dish that people all over the modern world love. Simple but effective, chicken in red wine sauce is simply brazed chicken breasts seasoned with exotic spices such as paprika drenched with red wine. Easy as that.
You can use any type of red wine, although considering how chicken tastes you might want to go with a lighter red wine. All you have to do is prepare the chicken in a skillet then drench it in red wine, let it fry off and voila; a red wine sauce!
Rosemary Chicken with Orange Maple Glaze
This one is for the more adventurous chefs among you and is not to everybody’s taste, however we love it. This is a dish that sees Chicken breasts rubbed with rosemary then glazed with a refreshingly light sauce of orange juice, white wine and maple syrup.

It’s delicious and all you need is half a cup of dry white wine. It’s fairly complex to make and you should consult a recipe before you do, but it’s a delicious dish when you get it right that’ll forever change the way you think about cooking with wine.