My friends arrived for lunch the other day carrying a bottle of bubbly. How nice! I was even happier to see that the bottle in question was Duval Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (£28.49 www.waitrosewine.com) — very much a favourite of mine and one that I tend to take to people as a thank you.
It had been chilled and was, I could see, being offered with the intent to drink.
Now” says my friend “someone brought this to us . . .” It was said slightly nervously as if it might be something nasty. Typically, I laughed and crashed on without thinking, saying “yes and I bet I know who . . . Me!”
As it transpired it wasn’t me at all but another friend who “knows a bit about wine” and I felt like a complete muppet.
Clearly I need to continue taking a note of the bottles that come to me (as I sometimes do to save all sorts of possible embarrassments in the future) as well as starting to note what I give to people as well.
I always try to give people a wine that I like; primarily because if it’s opened there and then I don’t want to have to pretend to like some vinous cast off.
However, more often than not the wines you take to dinner parties are never seen again.
It’s like giving someone a wrapped gift and not seeing their reaction when they tear off the paper. I always feel slightly sad about missing out on that particular moment.
My recommendations for this week are wines that I think are lovely to give and even lovelier to see coming back if there’s been a memory slip-up!
Pizzini DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2010 (£9.95 www.vintage roots.co.uk) is a deliciously sophisticated Italian white that has well-toned citrus fruits with hints of almonds.
A white that’s drinking very well now but will not suffer from being lost in the pantry for a wee while is the Australian Henschke Louis Semillon 2008 (£16 www.thewinesociety.com). It has a lovely waxy texture and fabulous breadth of flavours that will continue to develop.
‘El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa’ Old Vine Grenache 2008 (£9.99 or £7.49 if you buy two bottles www.majestic.co.uk) is a very immediately pleasing wine with juicy and plentiful red fruits with added spice. It has the added advantage of having excellent presentation too.
If you want to show that you’re keeping up with what’s in fashion, then a South African offering ought to do the trick.
I am an ardent fan of the Zalze Shiraz / Mouvèdre/Viognier 2010 (£6.64 www.waitrosewine.com) which punches well above its price point.
The wine has generous blackcurrant fruits topped off with a little dark chocolate and smoky spice; a bargain at the price.
If, if course, you gift a wine that you’re not overly keen on and you see it coming up the drive in a couple of months time remember that you’ve nobody to blame but yourself!