Guzzle and Graze - If your glass is half empty... just fill it up!
PUBLISHED: 15:19 23 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:19 23 April 2014
Hi, I’m Scott, a thirty something chap living in Addlestone. I have a huge passion for wine and food. Having worked in the wine trade for the last six years, I’ve developed the way I stare, swirl, sniff and sip – and would now like to share some of that experience with you here…
It’s barely gone midday on a Saturday afternoon: the sun is trying desperately hard to show its face, my daughter has been top and tailed (parents will know what that is) and I start my ritual of thinking about what to cook and drink tonight.
Saturdays are now my one night during the week where I can let loose in the kitchen and spend more than 10 minutes creating something tasty. The very first thing I always start with, however, is the bottle of wine I intend to open.
Now this is perhaps an unorthodox way of doing it. Who chooses the wine before thinking about what food they are going to eat?! But that’s what I like to do and I am sticking to it.
Two things can be questioned here:
1) Why am I thinking about wine at midday?
2) What is the point in even considering the wine first before thinking about the food?
Well the answer to both is actually quite simple and, more importantly, never fails to work for me.
For example, right now, my mind is telling me “ooh, how lovely it would be to crack open a smooth, velvety, rich Malbec” so really, the decision has been kind of made for me… surely a succulent piece of sirloin, some chips and a salad of rocket and parmesan?
My point here is this - thinking about what wine you plan to drink at noon is an act of judicious wisdom in my book, and one that should be practised again and again, and if you need to go back and re-taste to be sure, do just that.
My other ‘thing’ is where should we actually buy our wine?
Well I have a very strong opinion and that is based on the fact that I earn my living in the wine trade.
That said, I think and hope many of you would agree with me on this one... buy your wine from an independent merchant rather than the supermarkets.
Reprieve the latter of the pleasure of taking your money for a bottle of fermented grape juice that is so poor it may as well be alcoholic Ribena! Instead, take a little more time over your wine choice.
“This is great but I will need to spend more money,” you may shout.
This is very true, you will need to throw in some more pennies but how about this – if you were to spend, on average, £7.50 on a bottle of wine, you will get double the amount of actual wine in the bottle as opposed to one that costs £5.99. Of course, the more you spend the better things become, but once you get over that £5-£6 threshold, it all gets a bit lively and that’s precisely what I recommend to everyone I meet.
I will start a conversation with people I don’t know looking at a bottle for a fiver in a wine shop, and ask them to consider something else a little higher up the cashmoney scale.
No matter how many people choose to listen to me or not, it just makes me feel a little better.
On that very note, the best way to end my first of which I hope is many a post on the Surrey Life website, is all around that phrase ‘feeling better’.
Plenty of things make us or help to make us feel better, be that from a lousy day at the office, a bad result at the races, a poor decision on whether to watch The X-Factor or Strictly. Either way, I truly believe that a good bottle of wine shared with someone you love is quite heavenly, as much it is provocative, evocative, sensuous, relaxing, numbing and all the rest of the adjectives you could possibly think of.
A good glass of wine can soothe the wildest of hearts, the most complex minds and the hardest of days. Simply, let there be wine.
My current wine favourites
Malbec (an Argentinean one) - for those that love something velvety, smooth and unctuous to end a really good day.
Picpoul de Pinet (from the Languedoc in southern France) - for those of you looking for a little zing in your step, after all, the word Picpoul means ‘lip smacker’ so if its this zing, zest and pezazz you crave, look no further.
Falanghina (from Campania/Adriatic Coat of Italy) - this oozes class, simplicity and elegance. For that Friday evening slurp when the sun is out and you are feeling good
Lacrima (from the Marche region in Italy, just west of Tuscany) - this is a rare variety, but wow what a collection of flavours. It is light enough to be served chilled which is amazingly different and lightens up the palate. Low tannins, bags of flavour and underestimated. I promise you, it’s stonkingly good gear.
My favourite Surrey wine shops
The Wine Reserve, Cobham (www.thewinereserve.co.uk)
The people here are super friendly, totally unpretentious and are at your beckon call for your wine needs, I know that there wine selection is damn good too. They also have an enomatic machine so that you can try before you buy - always good that one. So a quick sip and a purchase before heading to The Old Plough for lunch down the road in Stoke d’Abernon.
The Vineyard, Dorking (www.wineunlimited.co.uk)
I have a good friend who works here, so if you ask for David when you go in and say Scott sent you, you never know, you may get offered a little something to taste. Really the ‘go-to’ wine merchants in Dorking and its a real gem of a place
My favourite Surrey wine bars
Sullivans Wine Bar, Weybridge (www.sullivanswinebar.co.uk)
If you want neon lights, funky decanters and weekend DJ’s, then forget this as a wine bar of choice! This place does it the old fashioned way - just good quality wines, sensible prices and unfussy, but great cooking, with their Sunday roasts something of a mecca for locals. Just make sure someone else drives you or you get a train or a taxi! Because once you start on that first glass, it is very tricky to say no to another.
I will leave it there for now on the best places to go to buy your Tuesday tipple or order a glass or two for your end of week treat but with each post I will recommend the best places to go in Surrey for that perfect glass.
There is nothing I love more than holding private tastings and gatherings and Guzzle & Graze will be going mobile very soon. If you enjoy learning a little, sipping a little and grazing a little I would love to hear from you. I offer really informal tastings that are a far cry from a school or rigid educational environment.
At the end of the day, I’m just a young chap with a passion for wine who wants to share, share, share.
Thank you for reading and see you next time.
Guzzle & Graze