For a lot of students their experience with wine so far has been with a cheap supermarket bottle that was most likely consumed in under an hour. Downing a whole bottle of Sauvignon blanc might get you drunk but the hangover the next morning has a less desirable effect. Once I started having only an odd glass instead of a bottle, I began to appreciate the flavours that are definitely missed while swigging a Merlot on the 4 into town. If you’re a wine novice, then the best place to start is to have it with a food. The right wine paired with certain foods can enhance the flavour of both the wine and food.
The starting point for a lot of people is white wine. If you’re really only starting to drink and find white wine too dry or bitter, then the best thing to do is to go with a light, easy drinking one. Sauvignon Blanc, probably one of the most popular white grapes, can vary in taste depending on the region and wine-making process. New Zealand Sauvignons are a go to for many wine lovers. Expect tropical fruit flavours with a dry citrus finish. At the moment there is a wine sale in O’Brien’s Wine, so there’s plenty of top quality wines on offer at very reasonable prices. The Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc is currently on offer for €8.95. Hints of passion fruit, rich fruit intensity and a citrus finish make the Brancott the perfect starter wine. If you’re willing to spend a mere euro more, Whistling Track Sauvignon Blanc is down to €9.95. This Kiwi Sauvignon is dryer than the Brancott but more aromatic, expect lime and gooseberry on the palate.
If you’re not keen on Sauvignons, then an Albarino is one to try that won’t disappoint. Predominantly grown in Spain, this grape is fast becoming one of the most sought after wines in the last year. With that popularity comes a higher price point. Luckily there is an Albarino down to €9.95 in the wine sale in O’Brien’s. Generally, it’s hard to find a good Albarino that isn’t €15 or more. The Xovial has the classic Albarino flavours of peach and apricot with underlying notes of apple. A Silver medal-winner at the International Wine Challenge 2016, the Xovial Albarino will set the bar high for any future white wine on your now distinguished palate.
If you’re like me, your first taste of red was that sweet church wine. I’m not sure what grape variety doubled as the blood of Christ that day but I’ve been hooked ever since. If you’ve never had red wine or have and think they all taste like vinegar, that is the general consensus at first. It takes some time for your palate to develop before it starts to identify the rich fruit flavours that are usually bursting out of a good quality bottle. When you’re only starting out try to avoid overly oaky wines or reds high in tannins. A tannin is a textural element that makes wine taste dry, you generally feel it at the front part of your mouth. Reds heavy in tannins are definitely something that you need to acquire a taste for over time.
Start off with fresh fruity light reds. Easier drinking styles of red mean flavours will be easier to identify and make for a great starting point on your red wine journey. A good starting wine is the Nero Oro Appassimento, again a great save in the O’Brien’s Wine Sale. Down to €9.50 from €18.95, a bright and fruit-driven modern Nero d’Avola, with buckets of vibrant dark cherry and plummy fruit. Made in the appassimento method, whereby some of the grapes are partially dried out before being added back in before fermentation, creating a layered flavour in this Italian Nero d’Avola. Another red that will definitely convert you is the Ocho y Medio Malbec, one of the only Malbec from Spain. Coming from high altitude vineyards, ripe black-berries & dark plum fruit are prominent throughout thanks to the absence of oak. While this Malbec is not currently on offer, at full price it is still only €12.95, and definitely worth the ‘splurge’ if you’re looking to start out on a great red.
Always drink responsibly.