Tagged "Basics of Wine"

The food and wine matching cheat you need this winter.

Posted by David Bowley on

It happens when friends are coming over.

It happens when you're handed the wine list at a restaurant.

Food and wine matching is a challenge. It's time we started talking about this problem.

Shrouded in mystery, there's even a profession [Sommelier] dedicated specifically to it.

You know, when the moustachioed hipster slides over to point out the Gewurtztraminer you mispronounced will be terrible with your entreé?

With our Australian Winter bearing down it's time to go beyond Black Angus and Barossa, to gaze into the kaleidoscope of provocative possibilities that exist beyond the status quo.  

You've probably enjoyed it's Spanish cousin Tempranillo? How about it's Italian friend Sangiovese? But it's the exotic and warm feeling of the emerging Portuguese red variety Touriga Nacional that make it über food friendly, and a variety to watch in Australia. 

From Proscuitto to Pulled Pork to 
Massaman Curry. Even Smoked Brisket or Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. 
Touriga has a smokiness, a savouriness and saltiness.
A counterpoint.
But don't think it's all one-sided. There's fruit too.  

Here's the sweetest bit. Our [TN/16] Touriga Nacional just won a Trophy! [shamless plug].

Where? Langhorne Creek Wine Show. Trophy for Best Red or White Wine made from an alternative variety. 

Check it out for yourself and to get hold of some, use the discount code SALTANDPEPPER at checkout for free shipping*.
*Valid until June 30th 2017. 

5 fun facts about Touriga Nacional

Considered to be Portugal’s finest red grape, it's used mostly in the production of Port. 

The berries are very small and produce little juice. On top of that, the yield per vine is tiny. Compared to a variety like Shiraz, where yields can be multiple bottles of wine per vine, growers of Touriga Nacional need to feel comfortable with a minimalist life.  

If you've ever tasted Port it's almost certain you've tasted Touriga Nacional. It's considered to be integral to a fine port, even one that is blended with up to 80 different grapes. They sure put everything into their port in Portugal

Touriga Nacional has thick skin, like Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the tannins within those thick skins that give the wine great structure and ageing potential.     

90 percent of the vineyards in the wine region of Dao were once planted in Touriga Nacional. When winemakers discovered that growing this low yielding grape was the equivalent of getting blood out of a stone, they ripped it out and replaced it with more productive grapes.


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How-to-guide: the best wine serving temperatures

Posted by David Bowley on

Did you ever think there was an adult adaptation of the story Goldilocks and the three bears? Hey, slow down, it's not that type of blog.

But just as Goldilocks had OCD about porridge, when it comes to getting the maximum out of your next bottle of wine, you need to remember;
'not too hot, not too cold, it's just right.'

Red wine is served at 'room temperature', of course, but think about that for a second. Where is this room?

The concept has been adopted from our European cousins, where they are naturally holding wine at 
between 14 and 18 degrees year round, thanks to the stone buildings and cooler climates. Here in the sunburnt country, too warm can happen too easily and before you've even hit a second glass, your favourite drop can get flabby and very unappealing. It's a bit of a challenge, but remember that more full bodied wines like Shiraz can usually stand up for themselves, but the weaklings like Pinot Noir, will benefit from a few minutes in the fridge before serving.

A cool white wine on a hot day is refreshing, but if that wine is too cool, the taste will be frozen out. To savour all the flavours, complex white wines, like an aged chardonnay, benefit from hardly any chilling at all. Generally speaking, white wine should be served between 8 and 12 degrees. If you're like most Aussies, your fridge is going to be set at a sensible and food safe 4 degrees. You can see the problem here, so straight out of the fridge, and straight down your throat probably isn’t a great idea.

Now that’s something to remember for barbecue season.

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4 basics of Wine: and how they make every glass taste better.

Posted by David Bowley on

Knowing about wine is probably something like knowing how to play an instrument. 

Maybe you can play a few bars, and you probably know someone who's 'a bit of an expert'. Thing is, it's so hard to get good at, and there's never a point where you know everything about it, so why start?

Simple. Aussies love plonk.
40% of the alcohol we drink is wine. Over 400 million litres of the stuff each year! So what if without spending an extra dollar you could enjoy every bottle that little bit more? Read on.

In simple terms the overall experience of a wine, it's body and soul, is made up of 4 basic factors. So let's break them down. 


It's the first thing we perceive when slipping something in our mouth because our sweetness receptors are located right on the tip of our tongue. Sweeter wines will usually have a thicker viscosity and are softer and easier to drink. Sweetness should only be used to describe the residual sugar in the wine and never the fruit flavours. We'll get to that later.  


Like biting into a lemon, acidity in wine can have a massive impact on your receptors. Wines with a high concentration of acid (low pH), like Riesling and Sparkling White feel fresher and lighter. Those with lower acid, like Chardonnay and Marsanne having a feeling of richer body and sit slightly heavier in the mouth.

Sweetness & acidity go hand in hand. It's all about balance, so in wines with some noticeable residual sugar, look for the acidity that lurks beneath as a sign of good quality.


Tannins are the most misunderstood thing about wine, so what are they exactly?
Natural chemical compounds that give a flavour of bitterness and a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Tannins are found in some pretty everyday items, like Tea, and understanding their impact can really make a difference to how you enjoy your wine.
Next time you brew a cuppa try putting the damp tea bag in your mouth to taste the bitterness and feel the drying sensation. 


Pretty much all wine varieties are characterised by the fruit flavours it shows the most of. Start getting to know what they are and you're in the box seat. 
Sauvignon Blanc - Passionfruit. Snowpea.
Riesling - Lime.
Pinot Gris - Spiced Pear.
Shiraz - Blackberry.
Pinot Noir - Sour Cherry.
Tempranillo - Raspberry & Ripe Cherry. 

They say knowledge is power, so nail these four basics of wine and you'll feel more confident the next time you've got a glass in hand. We even think it might taste better too...  

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