GIBSON ON GRAPES: Are we really all wine buffs now?

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Atul Kochhar

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According to new research carried out on behalf of the Co-op, we are now officially a nation of wine buffs, or so we think.

Apparently, an amazing 88 per cent of us claim to be true aficionados of the fruit of the vine.

The research also states that 38 per cent now believe they know their Sangiovese from their Syrah, going so far as to declare themselves ‘extremely knowledgeable’ about wine.

I must be honest and say I’m not totally convinced by these claims.

But what is perhaps more interesting is that the average Brit now spends £19 a week on wine – almost £1,000 a year. I have no doubt that figure is considerably higher than it was even 10 years ago, even given the rise in the price of wine.

In another amusing finding, 41 per cent of people admitted they spend more on a bottle to take to a friend’s house in a bid to impress them with their wine knowledge.

So here are a few wines this week to test your wine knowledge or to take to a dinner party.

Marquis de Pennautier Viognier 2015, Pays d’Oc (Majestic £9.99 or £6.99 as part of a mix six) is a lovely summer wine, produced by the still somewhat exotically thought of Viognier grape.

Originally from the Rhone Valley, this grape has now found itself increasingly planted in the South of France and Australia.

This is over complicated but there are the classic Viognier notes of honeysuckle and some peach on the nose, there is a little texture on the plate and it finished very fresh and crisp.

Try this in the garden on a late summer evening with a chicken and mango salad.

Sylvaner is not a grape that is perhaps universally known. But it is one of the main, although increasingly less so, grapes in Alsace.

Léon Beyer Sylvaner 2014, Alsace (The Wine Society £8.50) is produced by Léon Beyer, who has been producing wines in Alsace since 1580, so you would have to assume they would know a thing or two.

This is dry with a touch of pear and a little spice.

Again, not overly

complicated but it’s a lovely, gentle style of wine that is very food friendly.

Match it with some cold meats and pates for a late lunch.

Definitely my favourite wine of the month, and one of my finds of the year, although you may need to track it down, is Barbera d’Asti ‘La Villa’ 2015, Tenuta Olim Bauda (dbmwines.co.uk £12.50 virginwines.co.uk £14.99).

Barbera is native to the Peidmont region in northern Italy and this is a fabulous example.

It has a lovely deep ruby colour, and really enticing dark cherries and bramble berry fruit on the nose, followed by a silky palate but with some lovely bright acidity which makes it so food friendly.

This was lovely with a simple beef ragu and pasta but would work so well with many Italian influenced meat dishes – delicious!

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