Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.
Turin, Torino in Italian, is a beautiful city, Baroque as opposed to Renaissance, reflecting the glory days of the House of Savoy which ruled a great chunk of France, Switzerland and northwest Italy for centuries. Did you know that Turin was the firs capital city of a united Italy? Armed with recommendations from Federico, a friend and wine shop manager in Dublin who hails from Turin, we set off for a city break via Milan on the away and return parts of the journey. Because Turin does not attract the volume of tourists as say Venice, Florence or Rome, you can visit the fabulous palaces, art galleries and churches in comfort. If you do visit, don’t miss the stunning baroque Chiesa San Lorenzo, much more beautiful than the main cathedral where the famous Shroud of Turin is kept. Apart from the wonderful piazzas, arcaded pedestrian streets and glorious architecture, Turin is located in the foothills of the majestic Alps and you can take a one-hour train journey, as we did, and find yourself in a beautiful Alpine village, Bardonecchia in the evocatively named ‘Milky Way’ or Via Lattea range of mountains, gazing at the highest French peaks in the distance.
We ate in two different small trattorias and drank excellent wine from the Piemonte and from the less famous Dolomites region. One night I ate pizza and couldn’t resist a bottle of Pio Cesare Grignolino at €15. Normally I wouldn’t recommend a fine wine for pizza, but at that price I couldn’t resist. When I ordered it, the waitress swooped away the plain tumbler glasses on the table and replaced them with large special glasses for this particular wine. Special glasses were also produced in the second excellent osteria, L’Acino, (bunch of grapes) which had a small but particularly good wine list, and a most friendly and knowledgeable host.
All this got me thinking about wine and glasses and why ideally, there are different glasses for different wines.
In general wine should be served in a fairly large transparent glass narrow at the top to best capture the aroma of the wine. It should be fine glass and clear to allow inspection of the colour, and finally, one should only pour half a glass, again to allow the aromas to develop. Red wine is served in larger glasses than white, to allow one to capture the deeper and more complex aromas. Bordeaux should be served in a particularly tall glass with a wide opening, Burgundy in a slightly shorter glass, but with an even bigger opening. Sparkling wine calls for a flute shaped glass in order to best display and preserve the bubbles. White wine is served in smaller glasses than red because they are better for keeping the wine cool while consuming.
All the above are simply guidelines. The days of strict rules and wine snobs are numbered. Because our cuisine is ever changing, wine matching is more complicated. The best wine writers today list recommendations not rules, and insist wine is there for our pleasure, ‘a miraculously digestible infinitely various delight’.*
More about wine etiquette later, but for now I will relate an experience I had recently in a well-known restaurant in Kinsale.
I chose my wine from the list the waiter brought over to show me, he got my approval, and then said ‘that’s good because I have already opened it.’ Oh dear.
* Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2014.
Here in West Cork we are starting to benefit from the Super Valu takeover of the Superquinn chain. First we have the availability of their award-winning sausages and now some of the wines from Superquinn’s annual French Wine Sale are starting to filter through to Super Valu shops.
Try the Domaine de Christia, Grenache Blanc, Vin de Pays de Christia. A luscious white unusually made exclusively from the Grenache grape, and tasting of the Mediterranean. (on special at €12.99)
Valdemadera Gran Reserva- 2008: From the largest wine-growing region of Aragon, this is a velvety smooth and delicious red. M & S Cork city, (€14.79)
1489 Chianti Riserva. From the Chianti sub region of Colli Senisi, specifically from around the beautiful Tuscan hilltop town of San Gimignano (and hence the ancient tower on the label) Curious Wines, Cork. (€11.19 if you buy two!)