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All you Need to know about Merlot

If you’re a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon but are looking for change, classic Merlot could be exactly what you need. Chances are you already have a fair feel for the flavour but have you ever really given it a chance? Merlot is a great alternative to other reds, perfect for food pairing with many different dishes and offers both moderate tannins and balanced acidity. Merlot can be found at all price ranges and is a great safe choice for dinner parties. If you’re looking to buy wine online and want a range of Merlots to choose from, The Fine Wine Company won’t let you down.

Merlot translates from an old regional French dialect to approximately “little blackbird” obviously a nod to its deep, red-black tones. It is the second most planted grape in the world and is the most planted varietal in the popular and well-known wine region of Bordeaux.

Merlot Tasting Profile

Merlot is a rich and fruity wine. Your palate will be awash with berry and dark fruit flavours as well as plum, chocolate and cedar. Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine when compared to others in the category. While it is a great choice for many different meals, merlot goes particularly well with turkey and pork as well as rich stews and wintry vegetable-based meals. It isn’t a great choice for fish or spicy foods.

Merlot Regions

Merlot is of course the shining star of the Bordeaux region. Classically and historically it is the place to go for Merlot, with the best examples coming from The Right Bank area of the region. Appellations such as Pomerol and Fronsac are renowned for the Bordeaux merlot. Classic merlots from this region are earthier and have hints of tobacco in their flavour. New World merlots have a different, lighter flavour. If you’re looking to try something different to a classic Bordeaux flavour then look to Chile and Western Australia. Both these regions produce sterling merlots which have their own unique character, with just a hint of Bordeaux influence.

Our range of Merlot wines ensures you can sample many different flavours from different regions.

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Wine Trends to Watch out for in 2018

Every year brings about a new set of trendy wines, exciting innovations and ideas which storm the market. In 2018 there are many new wine trends to look out for and we hope you’ll be able to enjoy at least one of them with The Fine Wine Company. Take a look at three top trends below:

It’s All About Sauvignon Blanc

Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc have been the market leaders when it comes to white wine recently, but Sauvignon is making a comeback, especially Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc has a crisper more acidic flavour than other white wines and often shows off bright tropical notes, as well as a touch of green pepper. Our range of Sauvignon Blanc is vast, incorporating options such as this zesty Chilean offering as well as this classic Marlborough Sauvignon.

Be Prepared for the Impact of Drought

Droughts around the world in key wine growing regions do affect the wines available. We may see lower yields of popular Australian and South African wines due to long dry periods and while there is still plenty of quality being produced, it may affect how much access we have from wine in these regions. The wine growers are of course dedicated to keeping their wine production growing but there is only so much you can do when the climate and weather are not optimal.

Sample a Premium Rose

Rose never goes off trend but now our palates are getting more sophisticated and so are the skills of the wine growers around the world. The South of France is known for its beautiful high-quality roses, from both Provence and Bandol, but other regions are also catching up. The prices may be a little surprising but the flavours make it more than worthwhile. At The Fine Wine Company our wide ranging rose collection ensures there is an offering for everyone, with classic French roses such as Miraval, Cotes de Provence Rose to modern Californian options such as Angels and Cowboys.

These are just three examples of many trends to look out for in 2018. Whether you like to follow the crowd or are just looking for wine inspiration, it’s worth keeping these flavours in mind.

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Vegetarian Wine Pairings

The first thing we hear when talking about wine and food pairings is red wine with red meat and white wine with fish, but what about vegetarians? If you’re planning a dinner party or simply want to ensure your vegetarian friends are able to enjoy a meal out as much as the rest of the group, then knowing how to match up vegetarian foods and wines really helps. Below is a closer look at the right combinations to satisfy every vegetarian palate.

White Wine Pairings

Summery and fresh, most white wines are easily paired with a range of vegetarian dishes but consider these options:

Pinot Grigio

The light and fresh flavour of pinot grigio is a perfect partner for fresh pasta and salad dishes, raw food meals and those incorporates gouda cheese. The lightness of the flavours are perfect when enjoyed together.

Riesling

Ideal for more exotic meals, the light flavour of Riesling pairs well with Thai cuisine, Vietnamese meals and surprisingly Creole and Southwestern USA-inspired food, including (unexpectedly) barbecue sauce.

Chardonnay

With many differently flavoured Chardonnays on the market you can find everything from fresh and crisp offering to those with a buttery, medium-bodied flavour. This makes it a very versatile choice for vegetarian meals perfect for serving with potato or squash based dishes as well as risotto or creamy goat’s cheese.

Red Wine Pairings

Naturally fuller bodied and richer in flavour, red wines are a little harder to match with vegetarian foods but it’s certainly possible:

Pinot Noir

A lighter red wine, with smooth tannins pinot noir is a great choice for mushroom-based dishes, many of which you’ll find in Mediterranean in Asian-inspired dishes. It also works fantastically with fruit-based sauces.

Grenache

With soft, tempting tannins Grenache tends to be medium-to-full bodied and is a wonderful partner for light Italian meals, freshly grilled vegetables such as peppers and aubergine. It’s also wonderful with the Italian cheese fontina.

Malbec

The strong tannic flavour of Malbec requires a strong and distinctive food pairing. It’s a great choice of Cajun inspired meals, barbecue foods, baked potatoes and foods liberally flavoured with fresh black pepper.

It is also worth remembering that some wines are not vegetarian friendly so always make sure to check before purchasing.

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The World’s Finest Wine Regions

Many countries around the world produce wines of different qualities and styles, but there are some that stand out, for different regions. Although most of us already know the “top” wine regions, it’s always worth refreshing our knowledge and ensuring we know where to look when looking to restock our wine cupboard. When you look to buy wine online with The Fine Wine Company you can easily browse our site using the many different filters to find the exact wine you’re looking for. Below is a closer look at five of the world’s key wine regions.

France

The only place to start. Discussing the world’s finest wine is not possible without mentioning France. There are ten unique wine regions in France, each with its own specialty. The finest white wines come from Alsace in the East while Beaujolais is renowned for reds. Bordeaux offers a balance right in the middle and of course, no one can mention France without mentioning the celebrated area of Champagne.

Italy

Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine, recently overtaking France. There are twenty different wine regions across Italy and because of the unique shape, size and area the country covers, each region’s flavour is distinct. Regions such as Sicily, Lombardy and Tuscany produce everything from the finest, most expensive wines to those for the regular wine enthusiast.

Spain

Spain is the world’s third largest wine producer. Over one million acres of Spanish soil is used for growing grapes. Spanish reds have a truly distinctive flavour but their whites are becoming more popular too, with a crisp freshness which has become popular since New World wines have come onto the scene. Another bonus with Spanish wines is that they are usually available at a much more attractive price than those of France or Italy.

Argentina

In the top five wine producing countries in the world, Argentinian wine has gained a much more positive reputation in recent years. It has a strong international presence and the wines of the region Mendoza particular are notable for their high quality.

USA

While American wine isn’t all about California it does make up the bulk of their production. In fact, 90% of American wine is grown in California and varying qualities can be found. Areas such as Napa and Sonoma in California are known for their exceptional quality and world class white wines to rival the old countries are regularly produced in these areas.

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Should we really be chilling Red Wines?

For many years we were told that red wine was a room temperature only beverage, no questions. However, in recent times when summer arrives the idea of chilling red wine has become much more popular. Chilled whites and warmer reds has always been the standard but when the sun’s out and your favourite tipple is a refreshing red, why not cool it down?

Chilling red wines isn’t quite as straightforward as it is with whites. Warmer weather makes warmer wine less appealing and chilling a red wine can also bring out its acidity and heighten the fruitiness of its flavour. A chilled red wine should be cool not ice-cold. The chilling process shouldn’t result in a cold to touch red because this is probably too cold and won’t taste right. Experts recommend serving wine at around 12-15 degrees Celsius but if you’re not sure of the temperature, most say removing your red wine from the fridge 10-15 minutes before serving should be good.

What Red Wines can you Enjoy Chilled?

If you’re looking to buy wine online and want to know which reds are best to be enjoyed chilled. The lighter the red, the better it will be at a lower temperature. You should be looking for the lighter bodied, low tannin level reds. Fruity flavours work particularly well but you may find something interesting and unusual about a herby or earthy wine at a cooler temperature too. Two of the most commonly chilled reds are Pinot Noir and Gamay, but you can try others such as Zweigelt or certain Cabernet Franc too.

Essentially you can experiment with your favourite reds and find which ones are best. There is no harm done if you chill a red wine and don’t enjoy it at that temperature, as you can simply let it return to room temperature and enjoy it as normal instead.

Red wines may not naturally seem like something you can enjoy chilled but try it and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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Do you know your French Wine Rules?

When it comes to knowing “all” about wine, most people turn to the French for their guidance. While considered old-fashioned and classical by some, the French approach to wine is tried and tested and barely ever fails. Food and wine pairing is something the French do with style so if you’re planning a dinner party, want to experiment with new wines and food combinations or simply want to try something different it’s worth looking at these French rules for food and wine.

The French school of wine is very strict on its teachings and sommeliers learn a very specific way of serving wines with foods. In France, food and wine pairing is a true art, and something to take very seriously. French rules state:

  1. You can never serve white wine with red meat or game

  2. You can never serve aged red wins with fish or seafood (particularly crustaceans or mussels)

  3. Every meal should involve different wines paired with the different food types

  4. White wine must always be served before red

  5. Lighter wines must be served before more robust offerings

  6. Chilled wines must be served before those served at room temperature

This is just the beginning when it comes to the French sommeliers’ rule book. Some will argue alcohol concentration should also be considered when serving wines, with those with lower concentrations served first. Water is always served between wines at a French dining table, to ensure you can fully appreciate the aroma and bouquet of each individual wine.

Buy Wine Online with The Fine Wine Company

You can buy a range of high quality and flavourful French wines at the Fine Wine Company, ready for your French-inspired dinner party. Alternatively, you can opt for a more casual affair, choose any wine you like from our wide range and still enjoy a fully satisfying and tasty wine and food experience.

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Buy Wine Online

How NOT to Buy Wine Online

At The Fine Wine Company we are committed to helping our customers buy wine online easily and without any issues. We work to ensure our range of wine, our prices and our website are setup in a way which makes your wine buying experience easy, straightforward and even enjoyable. However, when looking to buy wine online you may come across sites which aren’t setup particularly well and here we’re looking at some pointers to look out for when buying wine online and warning signs that maybe you should be considering a different retailer.

  1. Clutter

A cluttered online retail store should always be avoided. Whether or not you know exactly what kind of wine you want to buy it should be easy to explore the different option available, whether it’s by country, type of wine or other deciding factors. If you visit a website and there is no direction, no order and too much going on, you may want to move on.

  1. Poor Design

No one is suggesting that wine sellers need to be expert web designers but a well-designed ecommerce site should be an investment every reputable retailer makes. Many different easy-to-edit and build on platforms are available so even the least tech savvy retailers should be able to have a website they can update easily.

  1. Product Availability

Nothing is worse than finding the wine you want and it not being available. No store can have their full stock range available at all times but when you come across stores with many items out of stock with no explanation or reasoning then you may want to consider looking elsewhere.

Choosing to buy wine online gives you many more options and choice but you need to be clever in your choice of retailers. Make sure you spend a bit of time exploring and choosing a retailer like us ensures you can access a wide variety of wines at reasonable prices, with high quality ensured.

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Cooking with Wine

Everybody cooks with wine but are you making the most of your wines when cooking and are you using the right wines? Wine is usually something we simply plonk into a sauce, use to add a little more flavour when browning meat or simply deglazing a pan. However it can be used in many other ways too and why not get the most out of your wine collection?

What does cooking with wine add to your food?

Wine can add a number of different things to any meal. Principally you’ll add wine to a meal for flavour purposes. The character of wine is often amplified and brought out even further when used in cooking so the key flavour becomes more pronounced. Wine also adds acidity to any meal you include it in, which will change the whole makeup of the dish. How a wine effects a dish will depend on exactly how it is used.

People often question whether the alcohol in wine is all ‘cooked off’ when it’s used in cooking. Alcohol actually evaporates at 81 degrees Celsius and it is very unlikely you will cook off all the alcohol as you prepare a meal, although it could be possible. If you don’t like the idea of cooking with wine then consider using a stock in any recipe that suggests adding wine.

Which Wines should you cook with?

The first place to begin is to avoid anything labelled as “cooking wine” and think about the flavours you like and the wines you like to drink and how they may compliment your food choices.

If you’re cooking with white wine then chardonnay is highly recommended alongside creamy sauces and cheese-based dishes or pasta dishes such as macaroni, pasta alfredo and lasagne. Sauvignon Blanc or pinot grigio can be great for a wide range of different styles of sauce and when cooking with fish as their herbaceous character brings a different character to your meal. If you are enjoying a rich delicacy such as Iberico Jamon, this is a great choice of wine to enhance the flavours and cleanse the pallet. 

When cooking with red wine then burgundy reds are always recommended when cooking with beef. The rich and robust nature of the wine works perfectly with the similar characteristics of the meat.

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To Decant or not to Decant: A Beginner’s Guide to Decanting Wine

Have you ever noticed that your glass of wine tastes better the longer it’s been out of the bottle? Well you might not realise that this is largely to do with the wine coming in contact with the air.  Decanting has the same effect. Putting it simply, decanting is principally the method of pouring the contents of a wine bottle into another container, a decanter. People then may serve the wine straight from the decanter. Otherwise, it may go back into the original bottle for serving.

Many wine drinkers choose to decant their wine before drinking it. However, you shouldn’t decant all wines. In fact, various types of wine need decanting for different lengths of time. Here are some tips to help you ensure you always decant when you should, and not when you don’t.

What is decanting for?

Decanting is used for two reasons. Firstly, you can use the process to get rid of the sediment that may form at the bottom of your wine bottle. Although it is perfectly safe to drink this sediment, it isn’t always particularly pleasant to do so, and therefore many people choose to decant for this reason. The other reason is to allow air to touch the wine, as this can improve the taste.

How long should I be decanting for?

How long you decant your wine for depends on the type of wine you have. As a rough guide:

  • Zinfandel or Pinot Noir: 30 minutes

  • Malbec or Grenache Blend: 1 hour

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo or Sangiovese: 2 hours

  • Syrah, Shiraz or Nebbiolo: 3 hours

Are there any wines I shouldn’t decant?

If you have any red wine older than 20 years, then you shouldn’t decant it. Or, if you do, it should only be done just before it is served. If you’ve left it to age, then you will have likely spent a significant amount on buy it. But excess decanting can cause it to taste like vinegar, a sure way to ruin what should be a wonderful wine.

Decanting can be a great way of making cheaper wines taste more expensive. However, you should always ensure that you are decanting for exactly the right amount of time. Doing so for too long may spoil the taste that you have been looking forward to.

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A Simple Guide to Shopping Online for Wine

You can buy almost anything online these days. And wine certainly is no different. Whether you like a specific wine or you want to compare prices, checking online can be a great idea. Buying online offers the advantage of large selection of interesting wines available all day, every day. You don’t even need to leave home. The wine is delivered right to your door, saving you money and your back. Here are some useful tips to getting the most out of buying your wine online.

Online expertise

One of the wonderful things about buying your wine (or anything) online, is you can access a vast amount of reviews and tasting notes. Whether you are looking for a wine to pair with a specific meal, want something similar to a wine you already enjoy or just want to find out more. The internet has it all. There is simply an array of information available at your fingertips from wine specialists and enthusiasts.

Choose a reputable retailer

The cheapest option isn’t always the best. Therefore, you should ensure that the merchant you’re using is reliable before placing your order. Checking for reviews online should help with this, but personal recommendations are always your best bet. So, check with friends and family to see where they’ve bought wine online from. Even if you find you end up paying a little more, at least you know that what you are buying is quality and you are dealing with a reputable company. Companies like us make sure we source the highest quality wines at a range of price points to ensure our customers have a range to choose from.

Watch out for flash sales

Occasionally there are some incredible wine sales online. If you’re lucky enough to find the wine that you like, you can make some great savings. So, it’s always worth waiting for a flash sale, and stocking up on your personal favourite. You may find that these sales only last for a short time. Therefore, check the site regularly to make sure you don’t miss out.

Consider a wine club

There are lots of different wine clubs, and most of them charge you a fee for new bottles each month. Depending on what you like, this can work out at great value. It is worth checking out a few different clubs to see what you get for your money. Then you can work out which would be the most beneficial for you to join.

Just like with buying anything online, if you do good research first, you’ll soon find an array of fantastic deals waiting for you. You may even discover a something completely new that quickly becomes your favourite.

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Buying Wine Online: A Guide for First Time Buyers

When you start to look at buying wine online, you may find the huge array of choice available rather daunting. Especially if you are a first time buyer. Over the last few years, the online wine market has pretty much exploded. New retailers and wine experiences have popped up all over the internet. But while you may feel a little overwhelmed by the choice, buying your wine online offers a huge array of options. And at the same time, saving you quite a bit of money too.

Improved online service and fast delivery

Drinks companies now view the online market as a huge part of their sales. And this has seen online wine retailers offer buyers a much-improved service. From secure payments, a wide range of products, to fast delivery. You can order wine online from pretty much anywhere, on any device, saving you time and money. Furthermore, you may even find some fantastic bargains and new discoveries that will never find their way into the shops. But like with buying anything online, you need to take caution. Always ensure you use a reputable website and read the terms and conditions before you part with any money.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your buying wine online.

Sign-up to the newsletter

While you may generally avoid signing up to newsletters to avoid your email inbox from filling up with subscriptions and spam, it’s well worth it in this case. In fact, while you are looking at online wine websites, you should sign up for every newsletter you come across. While they tend to provide all sorts of interesting wine-related information, they can also offer great deals and discounts on your wine purchases.

Check the size and vintage before you buy

Be sure to check that you order the right sized bottles that you want. It’s not always easy to tell on some websites. You don’t want to think you are ordering magnums or half-bottles only to find you get something completely different. At the same time, check vintages carefully too. Today you’ll find that most wines should be consumed while young. Therefore, you should make sure that you get the newest vintage available. If the website provides a facility for you to leave a comment with your order, then tell them that you don’t want vintage substitutions if this is important to you.

Substitutions

And on the subject of substitutions, be sure to read the fine print. Some sites say they may substitute with a wine of the same price. It’s best to check on the website and if you don’t want substitutions, then make sure you say so.

Minimum purchase

Find out what the minimum purchase is to qualify for delivery, before you start filling up your online basket. You don’t want to get to the checkout and find that you don’t have enough in it for delivery. Although it does offer the perfect excuse to order more.

Delivery and returns policy (if there’s one)

Most online wine retailers offer customers speedy delivery. After all, warm or even cold weather can be detrimental for wine. Make sure you understand before you part with any payment, as to when you can expect your wine to arrive. It’s also worth checking the policy on any breakages during delivery. And does the company have a return policy? What if you don’t like the wine or you open it only to discover it’s spoiled? It’s worth checking on the website before you place your order.

A world of wine at the touch of a button

Don’t be nervous about buying wine online. Most wine websites carry a huge amount of information about their wines and even tips and advice on things like food and wine pairings. The websites are generally run by wine experts who know everything there is to know about wine, so you will be in good hands.

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How the internet can help you build a corking wine collection

When it comes to buying wine online, UK online wine sales reached £800 million in 2015, according to Wine Intelligence. We can now buy virtually any wine in the world at the touch of a button. From the most exceptional and rare wine, to the most ordinary and affordable. From every grape variety to every price range. Wherever you are, you can find up-to-date information about thousands of wines.

Before you buy wine online, you can also check reviews and tasting notes from an array of enthusiasts and wine specialists. This has seen an increasing number of wine collections grown from wine bought online. Here are some tips to boost your wine collection from the internet.

Keep to your tastes

You need to vary your purchases, to include tried and tested wines that you know you like, to new wines. It’s often a recommended strategy to start with buying wines from wineries whose wines you already know that you like. You should also take note of new wines you’ve tasted at restaurants, or with friends which we have liked.

…but also experiment

You shouldn’t hold back from ordering new wines as you’ll miss out on the pleasures of a huge array of wines. In fact, you will find that gradually your tastes will develop and, without even realising it, you will vary and widen your selection. It’s just about making a start, and taking it slowly.

Don’t buy more than you can drink now or store properly

You either need to drink your wine soon after receiving them, or store them properly. You’ll need to store them in a cool, ventilated place, with little light and consistent temperature and humidity. Or, if you haven’t got an area like this in your home, then invest in a wine fridge.

Combine moderately-priced wines with premium, select bottles

There are thousands of quality wines which are at the lower end of the pricing scale. But they may not necessarily be exceptional wines. Therefore, to give a touch of distinction and class to your collection, consider adding some higher priced wines. Ideally, you’d want to try to buy the most expensive wines as soon as they come out onto the market. If stored properly, these wines will increase in value over time and result in a great investment.

Building a wine collection can be both a satisfying and interesting journey. Naturally, at the beginning it will be difficult to create diversity within your collection. But once you start to delve deeper into the world of wine, your tastes will evolve and broaden. And to help you, online wine retailers offer a wider selection than their bricks and mortar counterparts. This offers a great opportunity to try something new.