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Enjoying Summer Wine the Right Way

Summer is the season when even some non-wine drinkers partake in a glass or two. It is certainly the best time of year for enjoying a bottle or two, but how do you really get the most of your summer wine? Here we’re looking at how to truly enjoy a summer wine.

Keep it Light

Lighter wines, both red and white, are perfect for a relaxing summer drink, both indoors and out. Choose light whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling or if you prefer reds opt for a Beaujolais or Dolcetto. Syrah and Zinfandel are also great choices, perfect if you’re enjoying barbecue food because they are heavier than your average summer wine.

Opt for Low Alcohol Options

Alcohol is processed much more quickly by the body in the hotter months, due to that heat, and this can result in it “going to your head” much more quickly. What’s more it can also negatively effect the flavour as the wine heats up a little in the sun. An overbearing alcohol flavour is never enjoyable so opting for lower alcohol wines is definitely recommended. Sparkling wines and roses are much more popular in summer, in part due to this lower alcohol content.

Cool the Wine Down

A spritz of lemonade or a refreshing wine cooler is a very summery way to enjoy your favourite drink. A spritzer can massively quench your thirst while also capturing your favourite flavours. There are hundreds of wine cooler and spritzer recipes out there and you can experiment and make your own too. Using a wine with an acidic, lighter character is recommended over oaked or heavy wines, as they blend better with your chosen mixers.

Buying your wine online for a summer garden party or simply to stock up for the season allows you to experiment with a range of different types and styles. Whether you’re feeling adventurous or not, summer time wine is an absolute must.

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Lesser Known Wine Regions to Visit This Summer

If you’re planning a wine-led getaway this summer, there are many hot spots which people usually head to. However, if you’re looking for something a little different and to experience new and interesting flavours and winery styles, consider one of these lesser known wine regions for your wine adventure this summer:

Valle D’Aosta, Italy

A beautiful and adventurous location for your summer break, Valle D’Aosta has breath-taking peaks to scale as well as wonderful wines to sample. It’s one of Italy’s hidden gems and features its own unique culture, with both Italian and French as official languages in the region, alongside the local dialect known as Valdôtain. The Valle d’Aosta wine trail gives you the chance to try unique local varities such as Fumin, as well as more popular Italian and French wines like Nebbiolo and Arvine.

Istria, Croatia

A quiet and secluded peninsula, right next to the Adriatic Sea, Istria is just minutes from Italy and a chance to explore a unique and up and coming wine region. Croatian wine continues to attract more attention and you experience the unique culture and landscape of Istria, you can also try some truly unique wines. Enjoy local flavours made from grape varietals such as Teran and Malvazja. The beautiful atmosphere, scenery and wine combine to create a wonderful holiday experience.

Südsteiermark, Austria

Südsteiermark offers all the beauty and views of the Italian countryside in the heart of Austria. It has bene described as the Tuscany of Austria which makes it a wonderful choice for a break dedicated to enjoying the countryside and the finer things in life. Südsteiermark is known as one of the best regions for producing Sauvignon Blanc but you can also enjoy local and fresh varietal wines such as Muskateller and Morillon.

These are just three examples of lesser known wine regions you may want to consider this summer, especially if you’re looking for something a little different for your summer getaway.

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Spotlight on Tannat

A little less known than other red wines, Tannat has a history linked to a tiny village in South West France called Madiran. It’s a strong and full bodied option which is sometimes likened to Malbec but it has a personality and flavour all of its own. Tannat is traditionally French as mentioned, but there are newer offerings, especially from Uruguay, which are becoming increasingly popular.

The Flavour of Tannat

Tannat has a rich fruity flavour, with red and black fruit blending beautifully in good offerings. It also has the tang and depth of black liquorice with coffee notes, some vanilla and even a touch of fragrant cardamom and similar spices. Wines which have had more oak aging will have a spicier flavour. Some Tannats are rich in tannins while others can be lighter too.

French Tannat vs Uruguayan Tannat

As you’d expect the flavours of French and Uruguayan Tannat differ due to the different in climate, soil and production methods. Traditional French Tannat from around Madiran typically has a stronger red fruit flavour with rich, powerful tannins and raspberry flavours coming through particularly strong.

As a newer and with more inventiveness possible due to less stringent AOC requirements, Uruguayan Tannat wines are softer and less stringently tannic. Elegant black fruits dominate the flavour with blackberry, cherries and plums often easy to pick out. Creativity and playfulness stand out as characteristics of Uruguayan Tannat.

Choosing Tannat

At The Fine Wine Company we have a range of different Tannat wines to choose from. Our Tannat wines include examples from Argentina, Italy and even Brazil. We also have examples of Uruguayan Tannat and traditional Madiran Tannat too.

Many Merlot lovers are now enjoying a Tannat or two as well as their favourite red and with the choice of different producers, flavours and regions, there may be a Tannat for you too.

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Tips for Choosing the Wines for your Wedding

Many people have their wedding fully catered without the need to make too many decisions, but wine fans may want to take some of this into their own hands. With Royal Wedding fever upon us, you may not be able to rival the range offered at the royal occasion, but you can certainly take control of what you plan to offer and ensure your favourites are included. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Think about Volume

How much wine do you actually need? This may seem like a strange question, but you need to make sure you don’t go overboard. Buying wine online for your wedding reception ensures you can get a good deal on cases and as a rough guide, experts recommend you cater for half a bottle per guest.

Think about the Season

Winter Weddings don’t have to be all about red wine, but warmer full bodied flavours are a great choice. A rich Chardonnay can be a perfect addition to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in the winter. Summer Weddings call for fresher, younger flavours with Chablis and Sauvignon Blanc particularly popular. Remember the Wedding Breakfast is usually at lunch time so lighter options are often recommended then.

Think about your Toast

The wine for your toast should be something special. However, you shouldn’t feel bound by tradition so if Champagne isn’t your thing, look at other sparkling wines. There’s nothing wrong with a Prosecco or Cava if these are flavours you prefer.

Think about You

Of course, you want to cater to your friends and family but what do you like? It’s your special day and everyone is coming to celebrate your wedding. They will enjoy the whole experience regardless so throwing in a couple of your favourites certainly won’t hurt.

The right wines for your special day can help the whole event feel even more special. Spend a little time choosing what you really want, and it is bound to go down well.

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Fresh Wines for Spring

Spring is on its way and we’re all ready for a little warmer weather and perhaps even the chance to enjoy a little outside drinking and dining. The sunshine may not be bright but it’s definitely on its way and if you’re looking to buy wine online for your first spring celebration, we have some suggestions you should definitely keep in mind.

Spring Wines from The Fine Wine Company

Drinking according to the season is not necessarily something everyone does, but it can be enjoyable. It’s a great way of trying new flavours. Here are some of the most popular and enjoyable Spring wine options:

Light Rose

Lighter styles of rose are a wonderful choice for spring. You can enjoy the flavours of the South of France or Spanish flavours. The low alcohol content and light pink tones team with delicate and fresh fruit aromas and flavours, perfect for the gentle warmth of spring. Try a Rose such as La Vidaubanaise Comte de Provence.

Younger Pinot Noirs

If you’re a red wine drinker, there’s no need to switch for the freshness of spring. A young Pinot Noir is the perfect choice for Spring. With fresh fruit flavours and the option of serving slightly chilled, this is one way of still enjoying your favourite reds in a traditionally white wine season.

Prosecco

Everyone loves a Prosecco in the sun. It may be more popular when the true summer heat arrives but there’s no reason you can’t add it to your Spring wine list. Gentler and more rounded in flavour than Champagne, you could try Mabis Biscardo Prosecco Frizzante or a similar offering for that gentle fizz that has become so popular.

Gewürztraminer

With an instantly recognisable aroma and a surprisingly deep colour, Gewürztraminer is a great alternative to the summer classic Sauvignon Blanc, for spring. Bright acidic notes stand out and it’s a great alternative white for the springtime.  Lani Gewurztraminer is a great example of how good these flavours can be, with exotic Turkish Delight notes and fresh lychee aroma.

The right wine for the springtime is an entirely personal choice. However, when looking to choose a wine online, these are out top options for when the spring sun arrives.

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The Vegan Wine Conundrum

Statistics from the Vegan Society from 2016 show that there are around half a million vegans in the UK, and this figure is rising. When many people make the decision to switch to a vegan lifestyle they have no idea so many foods contain animal products, and the same can be said for drinks. Most wines are not vegan. This comes as a shock to many but why is this the case? What makes most off-limits to vegans?

Why are most Wines Non-Vegan?

Most wines go through a process of clarification which is known as ‘fining’. This process usually involves animal-based products such as casein, which is made from milk or egg whites. The fining process removes cloudiness from wine and ensures they are clear to drink, with no sediments or similar. High quality white wines and some sparkling wines use a product called isinglass in the fining process. This is a fish by-product and once again, unsuitable for anyone on a vegan diet. Fining agents are not present in the final bottled wine but they were used in the process, which is unacceptable on a true vegan diet.

Tips for Finding Vegan Wines

The rise of veganism in the UK and further afield means there are many vegans wines no available on the market. You can also look out for the following information on any bottle, which should be a clear indicator they are fine to drink as a vegan:

  1. Unfined or unfiletered wines are 100% vegan
  2. Wines filtered using sterile filters such as ceramic filters are vegan
  3. Wines using cross-low filters are vegan
  4. Some wines may be filtered using bentonite but always check with the producer
  5. Organic wines are not always vegan, you must check with the producer

There area number of curated lists online which show which wines are vegans and which aren’t. Like many vegans find with food though, you have to become an expert label reader to ensure you’re enjoying only 100% suitable wines!

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Traditional Wine Serving Rules

We all know that wines are meant to be paired with certain foods (although it never hurts to mix it up a little). However, what about pairing wines with wines? When should you drink which wine? Does it matter the order you choose to drink your wines in? Traditionalists would say yes and below is a closer look at the rules professional sommeliers live by.

Light to Full

It may seem like common sense but going through your wines from light-bodied to full-bodied throughout a meal is always recommended. Serving a range of wines at a dinner party requires real planning and so placing those delicate flavours first is always recommended. A full-bodied and powerful Bordeaux served before a light Pinot will simply ruin the enjoyment of the second wine.

White, Rose, Red

Light-bodied wines come first so white wines must come before reds and roses are best served in between the too. This allows for the acidity and fresh fruit flavours of whites and roses to be enjoyed on a clear and clean palate. If you’re considering a red before white, keep it light such as a Beaujolais.

Start Young

Wines make-up considerably changes as they age. The flavours become smoother and their aromas change too. Red wines gain rich tobacco and leather-like flavours while whites start to develop those sweeter, dried fruit notes. Trying these flavours before a fresh young white wine would simply stop the enjoyment of the second wine and remove the chance to enjoy both sets of flavours. Older wines should be saved for later in the evening.

Acid then Sweetness

Again, a very obvious rule but one which must never be broken! Sweet and fortified wines are designed for the end of the meal, they’re not called dessert wines for no reason. The residual sugar in these wines will kill off the flavours of any younger, non-fortified wine, removing its tannins and acidity.

Planning a traditional dinner party, wines and all, is certainly achievable with a little effort and planning. You can easily buy wine online to suit every course of your meal and wow your guests with a dinner party which allows for great food and perfectly paired wines.

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Who puts the Bubbles in Bubbly?

Champagne remains the most enjoyed and beloved of all sparkling wines, but many people want to know exactly how it is made. As the most famous wine on the planet, it certainly deserves attention and below we’re looking closely at champagne, its make-up and how those bubbles are formed.

Champagne is a very specific type of sparkling wine. It has to be produced in the region of Champagne and it has to fall within the very strict appellation guidelines to truly be classed as Champagne.

Only three grapes are allowed to be used in the making of Champagne. They are:

  • The white grape Chardonnay which adds freshness, acidity as well as fresh flower and fruit aromas and flavours.

  • The red grape Pinot Meunier which adds fruit aromas and helps bring balance to the wine.

  • The red grape Pinot Noir which adds structure, power, body and red fruit flavours to the wine

Most Champagnes will include a blend of these three grapes but it is not essential all three included. A 100% Chardonnay Champagne is known as a Blanc de Blancs and has a remarkably fresh and fruit-enriched flavour. A red grape Champagne, using 100% Pinot Noir or a mix of the two red grapes, is known as Blanc de Noirs. These wines have a richer and more densely structured.

Where do the Bubbles Really Come From?

The unique winemaking process which creates Champagne also creates those much-loved bubbles. The first few steps of creating Champagne are the same as still wine but then some syrup, made up of a combination of sugar and yeasts, is added into each bottle. The yeasts then consume the sugars which produce the alcohol and also carbon dioxide. This process is essentially a second fermentation and the carbon dioxide is trapped within the wine. When the bottle is opened, it is released and the bubbles can be enjoyed!

Of course, newer and less prestigious sparkling wines are popular on the market, but nothing quite takes the place of a classic Champagne.

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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.