The questions I am most often asked about wine
What is your favorite wine?
It’s like asking a music critic what his favorite piece is (of what – classical, jazz, opera, pop?). I have a lot of favorite wines so this needs to be broken down; what is my favorite white, my favorite red, etc. Then it depends on the season (I barely touch rosé in the winter), time of day (hearty, rich reds don’t appeal to me at midday), and the food I cook.
And my ‘favorite wines’ change all the time – I’ve become incredibly enthusiastic about English wines lately, but wouldn’t have championed them so much ten years ago. None of this is terribly helpful in answering the question, I know.
It is better to be asked “What is your favorite wine country?” – to which my answer is Spain. Spain has it all – great reds from a myriad of regions, delicious whites (oaked or not), a sparkling finish in the form of an excellent cava, and perhaps my favorite Spanish style, the sherry.
Sherry could possibly be my desert island wine, if pushed. A dry oloroso sherry, probably, deeply aromatic and rich in raisins, figs, dried nuts and orange zest. Again, it’s hard to deny my love of the best sparkling wines. English now, yes, but also champagne (I prefer the blanc de blancs style of both countries). Or maybe I’d go for the Italian Franciacorta fizz, or for more of a bargain, a decent cremant… Oh my. You see? I cannot simply answer the question.
How do you find the best wine deals?
Browsing through stores and online merchants for great deals is the obvious way to go, but, of course, a wine is only a bargain for you if you know and like that particular label and that you find her on an excellent deal. Don’t be tempted by what looks like the best Malbec deal you’ve ever seen if you don’t know that particular Malbec. Wine writers like me aim to tell you about great deals on great wines, whether modest or premium bottles, so keep an eye out for my weekly column on Telegraph.co.uk.
It’s fair to point out some countries and wine regions that deliver consistently good value for money. South African wines are often very expensive, as are many Chilean wines, Sicilian wines and those from the huge French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. A generalization, perhaps, but it is true enough.
How to avoid getting drunk during tastings?
Two-word answer: a spittoon.