Drink what you enjoy

Twisted Nose from Winchester.
Twisted Nose from Winchester.

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There are generally two questions I’m asked regularly about wine. The first – my favourite wine? The second – what would I recommend to drink with a particular dish or meal?

The answer to the first is never easy as I don’t have one favourite wine. I have treasured memories of favourite bottles, but that is an entirely different thing. Right now I’m enjoying comparing different New Zealand pinot noir if that helps.

'Gorgeous - French viognier.

'Gorgeous - French viognier.

As for the second, the answer is much easier. Drink what you enjoy, whatever you are eating. The trick is to establish what you enjoy and by far the best way to do that is to taste different wines. Even better if you get the chance to taste it with a representative from the producer who made it.

And you can do just that next Tuesday at a Christmas wine fair at the Brookfield Hotel, Emsworth. Tickets are £5 each (available from The Brookfield Hotel on 01243 373363) with proceeds going to Havant Hockey Club’s youth development programme. For that you get to taste more than 40 wines with their agents in the UK.

There are some quality producers opening their bottles, from Champagne to Stellenbosch and lots in between. There are too many to list here, but there are a few I would make a point of tasting during the evening.

OK, so Twisted Nose Gin (available from local Majestic and independent wine merchants rrp £30 50cl) is obviously not wine, but it’s a quite brilliant local product, one of the more interesting gins being produced as part of the current gin revival. It is distilled in Winchester using Meon Valley watercress as one of its botanicals and will certainly be on my Christmas gift list this year.

Classic Rioja.

Classic Rioja.

Perhaps the best value white I have tasted in the past few months is Mont Rocher Vieilles Vignes Viognier 2014, Pay D’Oc (on offer on the evening at £6.70. List price £7.70). I love viognier, but often at this level it just doesn’t work at all.

This is gorgeous though, made from old vines with peach and apricot fruit and well-balanced acidity. The perfect bottle to have in the fridge over the festive period.

Rioja and malbec seem to be the reds of choice right now and these two wines wouldn’t go wrong on the Christmas table. Bodegas O’Fournier Urban Malbec 2013, Mendoza (Hermitage Cellars £9.70) is the intro point wine from one of Argentina’s most dynamic wineries and it totally over-delivers. Its was aged in French oak for a few months but it’s actually all about the very pure blackberry fruit and hints of chocolate before a long flavoursome finish.

Vine Pomal Reserva 2010, Rioja (Hermitage Cellars £13.15) is classic Rioja by one of the region’s oldest producers, from a lovely vintage. It is made from 100 per cent tempranillo and aged in American oak for 18 months. It has red fruits, vanilla, coffee and violets on the nose before a silky, long palate, which is going to be lovely with roast lamb or even turkey.