|Shobhaa De is a best-selling author, columnist, social commentator and die-hard foodie, who likes to demystify fine wining and dining…
“Please don’t waste a mellow Petrus on me. And yes, you needn’t decant that Latour either. When it comes to reds – even the best of the best – my tongue rebels. I’m very much a Blanc de Blanc woman.
I like my wines light, fruity and friendly. Give me a happy rosé ……give me a light and lovely Zinfandel, and you’ll see me sparkle. But those deep, mysterious and intense Reds…they just make me nervous.
I see dinner companions roll their favourite Bordeaux or Burgundy in a handsome Riedel and I literally see…you’ve guessed it – red!!”
I am not a wine snob, and can’t tolerate being at the same table with anybody parading to be one, either. Of course, there are knowledgeable wine lovers whose company can be as glorious and full-bodied as the best Saint Emilion. But for someone like myself, who prefers to maintain a casual relationship with my wines, rather than a committed affair, an evening can be splendid if the company sparkles more than the bubbly on offer. I’m perfectly happy drinking a local, well-chilled Chenin Blanc (Sula is my all-time favourite), and prefer it to a badly-travelled Pouilly Fuissé. What’s the point paying an indecent amount to import a decent French wine, which (poor darling) cannot handle the Indian Summer?
Delicate, temperamental wines annoy me with all their drama (uncorking, breathing, resting etc). Wines (like people) should be accessible and uncomplicated. I am very mood-driven when it comes to choosing a favourite wine. Ever since I tasted a brilliant Sancerre on a Jet Airways flight to London, I’ve fallen in love with it. I also adored a New Zealand Pinot Grigio I sampled on a Singapore Airlines flight recently. Both must’ve been pretty damn good for me to remember them. Or maybe it was actually the in-flight movies that did the trick…whatever. A good wine, in my book, is a wine that makes me feel good. Simple. And if I had to name just one that hit all my soft spots and made me feel like J.Lo for two whole hours, well then, it has to be that very special bottle of Montrachet, a very generous Atulya Mafatlal had once uncorked for us at The Oak Room in London. Don’t ask me the vintage, I think the price tag was even higher!!
A description of the wines Shobhaa mentions is given below:
The Bordeaux region in southwestern France produces more classified wine than any other region in France and has been famous for its wines for centuries. Equally well known, the Burgundy wine producing region is in central-eastern France. Red Burgundy wines are usually made with the Pinot Noir grape, and white Burgundy wines with Chardonnay grapes.
Petrus and Latour are chateaux in Bordeaux producing unique, intensely concentrated, richly flavoured red wines. The Petrus grapes: 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc.
Latour:75 % Cabernet Sauvignon; 20% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc; 1% Petit Verdot.
Saint Emilion in Bordeaux has 11 of the 13 highest rated Chateaux.
Pouilly-Fuissé is a dry, medium to full bodied white wine from Mâcon in Burgundy. Grape: Chardonnay
Sancerre from the town Sancerre in the Loire valley, known for its excellent white wines of incomparable intensity and finesse and typical “smoky” flavour. Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir
Montrachet: white wine. There are several different types of Montrachet wine, all coming from neighboring villages in the region of the same name in Burgundy.
Zinfandel: Considered California’s red-wine grape because it’s not widely grown in other parts of the world.
Chenin Blanc: French white-wine grape that is the basis for many superior wines from France’s Loire region. Chenin Blanc is widely grown outside of France
Pinot Gris: This grape can vary substantially in colour, producing wines that range from white to slightly pink. Crisp, light and dry.
Blanc de Blanc means “white wine from white grapes”, usually Chardonnay. Blanc de blancs are usually light and delicate.
Rosé wines are usually (always in France) made from red grapes. The brief skin contact is the reason that rosés lack the body and character of most red wines. Generally slightly sweet.