Drink young and beau­ti­ful: wines that needn’t wait

The Guardian - Feast - - Feast - Fiona Beck­ett

A con­ven­tional wis­dom that is im­parted when you be­gin to learn about wine is that se­ri­ous wines ben­e­fit from age. But I reckon that’s a tenet that needs re-ex­am­in­ing.

The other week, for ex­am­ple, I went to a ver­ti­cal tast­ing of wines by Felton Road, a New Zealand pro­ducer I love and whose prod­ucts I (very oc­ca­sion­ally) buy when I’m feel­ing par­tic­u­larly ex­trav­a­gant. Although these wines age im­pres­sively, they’re just so god­damn de­li­cious when they’re young.

I’ve also been tast­ing the widely ac­claimed 2016 vintage ports, which are just gor­geous even at this early stage. Is it wrong to drink them – and other re­cent vin­tages – when they’re ca­pa­ble of age­ing for 30 years? Well, maybe, but with­out be­ing doomy about it, you and I may not be around in 30 years’ time. You won’t find them on the shelf just yet, but you can buy a de­li­cious 2013 such as San­de­man’s Quinta do Seixo (20.5%) for £26.49 from Alexan­der Hadleigh or £29.26 at Lay & Wheeler and con­sume it the same night, if you choose.

So, if your own age plays a part in de­cid­ing how soon to drink a wine – and younger drinkers tend to pre­fer vi­brant, fruity wines to the more sub­tle, evolved flavours of older ones (and are un­likely to have a house, never mind a cel­lar, to store them in) – maybe it is time for a re­think. Never liked the widely ad­mired, slightly petrolly flavours that ries­ling ac­quires over time? Drink it younger. Or the for­est floor char­ac­ter that’s re­ferred to in the wine trade as “sous­bois” and that is fre­quently found in older reds? Crack ’em open.

I’m not say­ing there aren’t wines that need time; good red bur­gundy, for in­stance, usu­ally ben­e­fits from hav­ing four to five years af­ter bot­tling, as do northern Ital­ian reds such as barolo and bar­baresco, which take time to get into their stride. Just-re­leased wines from a new vintage can be a bit clunky – I wouldn’t be drink­ing most 2018s just yet, ex­cept for sauvi­gnon blanc and ries­ling, which tend to taste bet­ter than other va­ri­eties in their youth – but there are fewer than there used to be. Even bordeaux is de­signed to be drunk young these days, and the 2015s and 2016s are par­tic­u­larly de­li­cious.

Re­mind your­self that more wines are wasted by keep­ing them too long than by drink­ing them too soon, and give your­self per­mis­sion to open that bot­tle you’re keep­ing for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion. Or, if need be, sim­ply in­vent an oc­ca­sion to drink it. to gar­nish A truly Bri­tish cock­tail and, un­usu­ally, one with an undis­puted in­ven­tor: Dick Brad­sell, who died in 2016, was a le­gend of the Bri­tish bar scene. It was in­spired by the Bri­tish pas­time of bram­bling, when the black­berry bushes that grow in hedgerows and waste­land come into fruit, be­fore the sea­son ends with the first hard frost.

Shake the gin, lemon juice and syrup with ice, then strain into a tum­bler filled with crushed ice. Driz­zle the crème de mûre on top and gar­nish with a black­berry – ide­ally one that you’ve for­aged your­self.

From The Home Bar, by Henry Jef­freys (Jac­qui Small, £25)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.