Francis Peel's wine wisdom

PUBLISHED: 11:32 19 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:00 20 February 2013

Francis Peel’s wine wisdom

Francis Peel’s wine wisdom

If you're making a warming winter cup use a wine that you would be prepared to drink on its own

Remember, remember

If youre making a warming winter cup use a wine that you would be prepared to drink on its own

As the nights draw in and Bonfire Night approaches, our thoughts turn to fireworks parties and the warming drinks needed to fend off the cold. People often say to me that they dont like mulled wine and that it gives them a headache. That is often because the wine used to make it is the cheapest possible because it is going to be sweetened and fortified, frequently with any odd bottle of spirit lurking in the bottom of the drinks cabinet. And this is the crux of the problem. Always use a wine that you would be prepared to drink on its own and you will find the headaches miraculously disappear! I also much prefer to use port rather than brandy as it both sweetens and fortifies the brew but is less fiery and heady. The perfect mulled wine is 70 per cent red wine, 15 per cent port and 15 per cent orange juice, brought just to the boil with an orange stuck with 10 to 15 cloves and a cinnamon stick.

Chinese whispers

After 2009 the much-hyped claret vintage of the century this year looks to be another excellent vintage, although one with very high alcohol levels thanks mainly to the drought conditions that the Bordelais have been experiencing. Although still too early to tell for certain, another great vintage would certainly test the market and it will be interesting to se if the Far East continues its seemingly unquenchable thirst for the great wines of Bordeaux. The wine institute in Bordeaux released figures last month showing that China had become the most important wine market for claret, overtaking the UK in value of sales in the first half of 2010, now totalling 90m. The Chinese passion for the region has even seen the launch of a rom-com film Cherish Our Love Forever shot at Chateau Haut-Bacalan in Pessac and due to be released early next year.

Festive treats

As the festive season approaches, here are two bargain reds for readers of Shropshire Life to help you celebrate without breaking the bank:

Domaine Bech Merlot 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining in this case a fabulous French wine that was stocked by Threshers until their demise. We have been offered a couple of pallets of this at a really good price and are able to pass this on to you. A well-balanced, smooth red from the Gard region in Southern Rhone, this wine is full of rich cherry and dark chocolate.

Special offer price 47.95 per case of 12 (3.99 per bottle Threshers price was 6.79).

Moulin--Vent Domaine de la Tour du Bief 2007

We have limited amounts of this attractive Cru Beaujolais at a bin end price. Made from the Gamay grape, the wine is full of red berry fruit with soft tannins.

Special offer price 59.95 per case of 12 normal selling price 107.95.

Francis Peel is the owner of the Midlands largest wine warehouse Whitebridge Wines. Whitebridges Christmas Tasting takes place at the warehouse in Stone, Staffordshire, on Friday, November 12 and Saturday 13. Call 01785 817229 to reserve tickets.

The Dictionary of Wine Terms

M is for...

Maceration is the process of leaving the red grape juice with the skins in the fermentation vessel once the alcoholic fermentation has finished. The longer the two are left in contact, the deeper the colour and the more tannins and flavours are extracted. So for softer wines maceration can be much shorter than for a wine, such as a serious claret, where the deeper colour and flavour allows the wine to age over many years.

MW stands for the accolade of Master of Wine the trade qualification that has only ever been achieved by a few hundred dedicate men and women who have passed the gruelling exams.

Methuselah is one of the largest Champagne bottles, holding a splendid eight bottles worth (six litres).

Malolactic fermentation is the conversion of the tart malic acid into the softer lactic acid which takes place after alcoholic fermentation. In white wine making, it is often an important decision whether or not to allow this fermentation as a wine undergoing it tastes softer and smoother, whereas one that hasnt undergone the malo, as it is known, will retain greater crispness and acidity.

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