No December trip to Boulogne this year. Other years I have gone there in late November or December to stock up for wine for Xmas. Sometimes being there during the Boulogne Xmas market. (Remember this post about the market).
My stock of red wine if virtually finished. I have quite a few white and roses in my wine cellar. But at this time of year, you really don’t want a chilled white, and crave a warming red. So I will have to buy some from a UK supermarket. Stayed tuned for reviews of these.
Wine limit from January 1st 2021
As no trip to Boulogne planned until next year, how will the new post Brexit rules affect my next trip and people going to France. Bear in mind that as I write, there are still negotiations going on, so no one knows all the details. But the most important issue of how much wine one can bring back does seem decided. It is 18 litres. This is 24 x 75cl bottles. At least more than the 2 bottle limit that some you ‘more mature’ readers may remember from years ago. I am not totally clear if this is per person or per vehicle. Hopefully per person. Then, two couples could share a house in Boulogne, (hint hint) and bring back 96 bottles. I will try to confirm this and update you later.
Red & White review: part 1
So, with no wines to review this month. Instead I will do another book review.
Remember by post about the wine books that I bought at the Ilkley Literature Festival?
I reviewed one, The Wine and Dine Dictionary in June 2020.
This month I will look more at ‘Red and White’ by Oz Clarke.
The first thing I notice when picking up this book again, is that the quote on the front cover, to persuade you to buy the book, is by Victoria Moore, who wrote The Wine and Dine Dictionary. (Maybe there is a little network of wine book writers who help out promoting each others books.)
Whereas Wine and Dine Dictionary is more of a reference book, to look up which wines will go with which meals, Red and White is more of a book to read. If not in one go, then definitely to read in parts. And I am really enjoying it.
I am currently reading about his introduction into wine. How, when a young student he joined the Oxford University Wine Circle, and how this really got him interested in wine. He then joined the Oxford wine tasting team. (Somehow, I don’t think that there was an equivalent at the then Kingston Polytechnic). And the success he had at tasting. Loved the bit about beating the French in a wine tasting contest, and how totally miffed they were.
But what really comes through reading about his early wine tasting experience is his dislike of the snobbery that can sometimes be associated with wine tasting.
“We weren’t here to learn about rich men’s wine. We were here to learn about flavour – of any sort: about how to recognise it, how to describe it.“
I like to think that this wine blog promotes a similar ethos. Taste the wines, note the flavours and aromas, and remember which ones you personally like. It really is as simple as that.
But, as you may have noticed, I still struggle to describe wines. I can say which ones I like, and that I think are good value, but still have problems going beyond ‘Very nice, nice, OK, a bit rough, not good at all.
So, I am trying to take Oz’s advice where he asks tasters to use language of “everyday life experiences” that means “something to them personally”. Examples that his friends/tasters came up with were:
“Smell of soft tarmac in the summer heat” for Beaujolais
“Nivea hand cream” for French Gerwurtztraminer. (Never heard of that wine.)
“Cat’s pee or raw gooseberries” for French Sauvignon Blanc (interestingly, I have not been a fan of these from the ones that I have tried. I am beginning to think that my wine tasting skills are not that bad. I can relate to the ‘cat’s pee’ comment).
“blackcurrant jam and cedarwood or cigars” for red Bordeaux
“Stewed strawberries” for red Burgundy.
“oatmeal and the smell of pee after eating a vitamin B tablet” for white Burgundy. (Interestingly he made everyone take a vitamin B tablet, and then wait for them to need to pee, so that they would whiff the smell and remember it.) I think I will give white Burgundy a miss.
He talks about getting into television with Jilly Goolden on BBCs Food and Wine program. And how they wanted to ‘democratise’ wine. Again taking it away from wine just being for wine snobs but for everyone. (I never watched this show. Remember I only started getting into wine when I started regularly going to France from around 2008. This show had finished by then. But I do remember Jilly Goolden. Or maybe just the comics who impersonated her.)
All this is in the ‘Setting the Scene’ chapters at the beginning of the book. The rest of the book is divided into two main sections. The first looks at different countries, (France, Australia, NZ, USA, South America, Eastern Europe etcetera). The second looks at different grapes and styles (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah/Shiraz etcetera). I will look at this in more detail in future posts. But it has always intrigued me why sometimes, wines are labelled by the area, (a Bordeaux for example) and some by the grape (such as a Merlot). Oz does bring this up and I will read more and let you know when I review the later sections of this book. Stay tuned.
If you like what you have seen about this book so far, available here on Amazon.
A difficult year is coming to an end. However, I believe that it will still take the first few months of 2021 before things even start to getting back to normal. New restrictions have just been announced today for the Xmas period in the UK. So it is not going to be easy to enjoy the festive season as usual, but hoping that you can have a good a time as is possible and wishing everyone a good 2021. The Boulogne Wine Blog.