Monday 2 December 2013

The Most Unusual Wine I Have Tasted

I’ve tasted many unusual wines; wines from different countries, wines which were made with interesting styles and sensational wines which have given me bliss orgasms in my mouth. Hmmm... “so what’s the most unusual wine I’ve tasted,” I ask myself... Perhaps it’s the 1989 Chateau Ausone Saint Emilion I won just over a year and a half ago? Yeah, that’s totally unusual as its 25 years old and costs around R4 000 a bottle! Definitely not an everyday quaffer right? There’s only one problem, as I peer over my left shoulder and catch a glimpse of the dusty bottle we speak of, resting peacefully in my clay wine rack – It hasn’t been opened yet! So per definition of ‘tasted’: past tense of - try or test the flavour or quality of (something) by taking some into the mouth; I haven’t tasted the wine…

Back to the drawing board… As my cheek muscles pull a smirk, I recall the first time I made my own Shiraz. I acquired a winemaking kit and Shiraz grapes from Paarl in the Western Cape. The whole winemaking experience was extremely interesting and memorable, as my then 2 year old son, Adriano Gouveia, assisted in stomping the grapes with his feet. Adriano couldn’t pronounce his name but used to say ‘Nano Fire’ instead, hence I dubbed the wine ‘Nano Fire.’ Looking at this photo now reminds me how much the little guy has grown! 

Measuring the sugar content of the must (mixture of grape skins and juice) with my Ballingmeter and ‘punching the cap’ (pushing the floating grape skins down) every day, was such an exciting learning experience.

“So why was the shiraz I made unusual” you ask? It’s not every day that I get to drink wine that I’ve made with my own bare feet and the memory of it gives me happy thoughts. I’d love to say it’s because it was the best damn wine I have ever tasted, but alas, it wasn’t! Don’t get me wrong, I was reasonably impressed with my first attempt, the wine was drinkable, although slightly in your face with a punch of tannins. The name ‘Nano Fire’ was quite fitting in retrospect J I should’ve let my masterpiece age a little longer before prematurely and proudly drinking it! 

What Role Does Wine Play in Everyday Life?

Benjamin Franklin said it best; “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy."
Wine is multifaceted and plays numerous roles in everyday life... 8 basic ones according to me:

Mentally, it’s the muse when creativity is lacking; the relaxer after a stressful day at work; it’s the therapist to bottled up emotions; the personality in a bottle to the introverts; or it’s the nerve calmer to the sweaty-palmed guy taking a hot chick on that first romantic date.
Ok, so alcohol in general can lower inhibitions, relax or inspire that spark of creativity, but let’s face it, wine is classy:

From an Economic point of view, wine can be invested in by purchasing and reselling particular wines for a profit, or by purchasing shares in an investment wine fund. Experts suggest focusing on the top wines from the best vintages as only a fraction of the wines produced worldwide increase in value at a rate that would justify the risk and the expense. Buying investment wine requires storage in professional temperature-controlled cellars. 

In addition, the more wine we drink, the more jobs are created in the wine industry, so cheers to boosting our economy!

Decorative & Functional – Not only is wine beautiful in your mouth, but used corks and empty wine bottles can be utilised for decorative purposes too. The uses are only limited by your imagination - How about these funky wine bottle chandeliers?

Wine can be functional too – Need a present for a birthday or a congratulatory gift? Many appreciate a good bottle of wine.
You can also use empty wine bottles to store homemade sauces etc. Think of it as classy Tupperware, it’s a pleasure ;)

Wine Has an Awesome Pairing Role with Food and if done correctly, flavours are enhanced to make the food taste like “more!” and vice versa. The trick to pairing is that both should complement each other and neither should dominate the other.
Personally, I also cook with wine and sometimes I even add it to the food.

The Social Butterfly is often a conversation starter at many a dinner party. “Wow Murphy, where on earth did you find this wine?” “Well Gerald, funny story actually. Whilst on business in Stellenbosch, I got lost and ended up on a dirt road to the wine farm. The winemaker, Edward, greeted me and asked if I had arrived for the tasting. I looked at my watch and realised I was an hour late for my meeting, so I thought to myself, ‘bugger it.’ A delightful tasting led to myself and old Eddie getting totally sloshed and I bought 6 cases of the marvellous stuff. Please don’t tell Mary about this. If she asks, I won the wine at a golf day, the one which raised money for orphaned children.”

Wine is the reason wine clubs meet religiously on a weekly basis to consume, I mean taste wines. It’s also the reason members of book clubs meet to discuss books they have read - yeah right!
Along with its bubbly counterpart champagne, wine is used to congratulate achievements and celebrate momentous occasions. It’s the choice of beverage when going out or meeting friends. It’s the comforter alongside a crackling fire on a nippy winter’s night; the companion to a braai or picnic at the pool on a summer’s day. Red wine is the reason we look at ourselves in the mirror with black teeth in the morning and smile and think: ‘awesome night.’

Wine Inspires Travel – As Gautengers, we cease every opportunity to visit the Winelands. Business trips to the Cape are welcomed with open arms and detours to wine farms always miraculously fall into place.    
Wine connoisseurs travel the world and are romantically allured by the old world styled wines and history France has to offer. Holidays are planned around having a Ch√Ęteau Margaux in Bordeaux, A Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand or perhaps a Penfolds Coonawarra Shiraz in Australia.   

Sexy Times - "Women who drink 2 glasses of wine a day are said to be more active in bed. In simple words, they enjoy sex better." I don’t think further substantiation is required, drink up ladies!

Still not convinced that wine plays an important role in everyday life?
Well if this last role does not sway you, then you are without a doubt a teetotaller:

There are several Health Benefits of drinking the fermented grapes we know as Wine! I’m actually going to pour myself a glass as I type this…
Before you, in the hopes of becoming immortal, down bottles and bottles of wine on a daily basis, the health benefits are achieved from moderate consumption which is defined as one to two 120ml glasses per day. Wine:
  • Promotes longevity, perhaps not immortality, but hey, who wouldn’t like a few extra birthdays;
  • Reduces heart-attack risk;
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease;
  • Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Lowers the risk of a stroke;
  • Cuts the risk of cataracts;  
  • Cuts the risk of colon cancer;
  • Slows brain decline.

In conclusion, as I look at my glass of wine which has 1 sip left, I telepathically say to it: “thank you for fulfilling your daily role in my life you fine beverage. Until tomorrow, we shall meet again,” *sip. 

Veritas Young Wine Writers Competition 2013

So, if you haven't heard yet, I am delighted to say that I was awarded 2nd place in the Veritas Young Wine Writers Competition! :)

The prize giving was held at Degrendel Wine Farm in Durbanville last week Monday, 25 November 2013, where several glasses of the cool climate Sauvignon Blanc and unreleased Chardonnay, were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and Marthelize Tredoux (the winner).

I was ecstatic to receive an email from Veritas a couple weeks ago, inviting me to join the prize giving function, with flights paid for from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Any chance to spend time in the Cape Winelands is much appreciated! Just imagine my surprise when my name was announced as the runner up to the competition? Absolute bonus! I don't think I stopped smiling and it was great to meet some wonderful people in the wine industry. 

To enter the competition, an article on one of the following two subjects had to be written:

  • What role does wine play in everyday life?
  • Describe the difference between wines to be enjoyed as 'quaffers' and wines that do justice to certain cuisine.
As well as a blog on:
  • What is the most unusual wine you have tasted and why?

Below is a link to my entries, which I will be posting to my blog shortly: 

To my international readers, or those of you perhaps not familiar with Veritas, here is a link to their website as well as a brief description of the organisation below:

The Veritas Awards is the longest running and most prestigious wine competition in South Africa and is synonymous with excellence in wine. The organisers, the South African National Wine Show Association (SANWSA), represents the full spectrum of the industry. 
After almost two decades the Veritas Awards has earned its reputation as one of South Africa’s most authoritative and credible competitions for market ready wines. The Awards with its coveted Veritas emblem, has become synonymous with top quality wines. The results are trusted implicitly when international as well as local wine buyers use them to assist in their buying decisions and also when the ordinary wine lover simply selects a bottle from the shelf to enjoy with dinner.

So I will end off by saying that I will definitely be entering the competition again next year, although this time I will be gunning for 1st position! :)