If you Google the definition of wine, you’ll find: ‘An alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice’.
It’s factually correct, but wine is so much more than that.
It is its endless variety that I find so fascinating. So just in case you were getting bored with the same old grape varieties, here are a few you may not have tasted recently, to re-invigorate your jaded palate.
Muscat d’Alsace Collection 2014, Maison Kuentz-Bas (The Wine Society £11.50) is a great place to start.
Muscat is a grape that is not often seen as a dry wine, but in Alsace it can produce beautifully aromatic wines that are great food matches.
Maison Keuntz-Bas was founded in 1795, remaining in the family until 2004, and today the vineyards are farmed both organically and biodynamically.
This is such a pretty wine, with aromas of peach, apple and spring blossom, followed by a very pure mouth feel with apple and a touch of spice before a crisp, light finish.
Try this with some garlic prawns or it also works surprisingly well with new season asparagus.
Semillon is a better-known grape, but still rarely drunk as a single variety.
Bohoek Semillon 2015, Franschhoek (M&S £10) is made by the brilliant Boekenhoutskloof Estate in South Africa.
Made with a little oak, this is a cracking little wine with notes of lime, lemon and pineapple with some vanilla in the background.
The palate has some nice richness to it leading to a well-balanced finish. Try this with a Sunday lunch roast chicken or pork loin.
And how about trying something completely off the scale? Ever heard of the narince grape?
To be honest, nor had I until I tasted Kayra Narince 2015, Tokat (strictlywine.co.uk £12.70 novalwines.co.uk £13.95). Made in the Turkish wine region of Tokat, this is really fresh with aromas of grapefruit and pear skin. The palate has more citrus as well as lively acidity and a nice creamy texture.
Unusual yes, but worth a try and would be a great match for Asian-inspired cuisine on a warm summer’s evening.
I hosted a tasting last week and one of the wines that really shone was a red blend, with cinsault being the major grape.
Few people at the tasting had heard of it as a grape variety, although if you’ve ever tasted a cheaper southern French red you will have undoubtedly tried it without realising.
As a grape its enjoying something of a renaissance in South Africa where it was once widely planted and was the grape which, when crossed with pinot noir in the 1920s, gave birth to the love-it-or-loathe-it pinotage variety.
Leeuwenkuil Bush Vine Cinsault 2016, (M&S £10) is almost the perfect summer red wine, aged in old oak and stainless steel this is all about freshness with crunchy red fruits, think cranberry and cherries, and a silky red texture.
It’s not overly complex but that’s half the joy. Simply delicious.