As it’s coming up to the weekend, I wanted to share a wonderful little tip I was given many years ago by a British School Mam who was in charge of a very prestigious private school – how to buy great wine anywhere in the world. You see, in Australia I knew my wine. I knew which brands I liked, what year was good, and pretty much never screwed up a purchase. But then I turned up in London and there wasn’t too much quality Aussie vino on the shelves – back then anyway. Instead I was faced with French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian wines, to name a few. They weren’t even in English, so where did I even begin?
I’m not a wine connoisseur and I’ll never attend a course to learn what a good bouquet smells like, if it has good legs, or a nice chocolaty flavour that dances across one’s pallet. It’s just not me, and while I admire people who know their wines, I prefer drinking wine because it tastes good. But with this tip, I don’t need to know the ins and outs – I can just enjoy a really nice meaty Shiraz – always my wine of choice these days, and while “meaty” is certainly not a word a wine aficionado would use, it describes a good Shiraz for me.
Without further ado, my friend suggested when you buy wine:
- if it’s red, make sure the alcohol content is over 13%
- for white over 12%,
- and always make sure the wine is at least a couple of years old.
Based on this starting point, I have since elaborated on the wine buying guidelines:
- Any red I buy must be over 14% with my preference at around 14.5%
- white 13%
- the wine must be at least four years old
Now there have been times when I’ve passed this wisdom onto friends and when I mention the alcohol content they think I’m just a piss-head and that’s all it means. But no, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the quality of the wine is my understanding – so it’s not a boozers recommendation!
A true wino might disagree with me on all of this, which is absolutely cool, BUT I have never ever had a failure since applying my rules and I am ever vigilant about applying them. As a result, I can buy wine from anywhere in the world, and it has served me well as I’ve wandered this very fine world of ours for many, many years. The other great thing about my guidelines is you can always find great wine, but it doesn’t always have to be at a huge price – this is especially important when you are living in a place like Singapore, where wine is taxed at such a high rate.
So there you go. Even if you don’t like wine, or don’t drink it, you won’t fail using these rules and if attending a friend’s house for dinner, your hosts will be impressed. If nothing else, please do keep these rules to hand if you are ever invited to a dinner party at our house, because if you bring a crappy bottle, we will not share our good stuff with you.
Yours, without the bollocks
PS: if you do manage to get a crappy bottle – whether you buy it yourself or receive it as a gift – those wine aerators really do make a BIG difference! Naturally at Steve’s insistence, we have to have a fancy carafe, but that’s just him trying to be posh.