I fear we are turning into a family of slouches. I returned home the other day to find my dog curled up in front of the telly that he had (inadvertently) switched on and that was showing some hideously trashy programme which, most alarmingly of all, appeared to have captured his interest.
He is clearly picking up bad habits. Our temporary accommodation has limited dining facilities and so TV dinners have become increasingly common. Consequently we are becoming lazy eaters and drinkers; by which I mean we have been focusing less on what we are consuming and failing to truly taste what enters our mouths.
To wake up our neglected palates I have been rooting around for less-familiar flavours that, from a wine perspective means trying new or shamefully neglected things — yippee!
Irouléguy is a small wine-producing area in France’s Basque country that is familiar to me only because the wine maker at Domaine Illaria Pelo Espil has long been showing his wines at organic wine fairs across France. I haven’t tried the estate’s Tannat/Cabernet Franc rosé (£12.95 www.yapp.co.uk) in a long, long time but was delighted to revisit it. This isn’t Strictly Come Dancing in a bottle. No, it’s altogether more Newsnight. The red fruits — redcurrants and English plums — have a crunchy, slightly oxidative edge and are nicely concentrated. It’s a rosé with depth and breadth and an excellent food wine; especially with a cold plate of quality cheeses and Bresaola drizzled with olive oil.
It’s hard not to have been gripped by the saga of the Eurozone in recent weeks and whatever our economic views on Greece, let’s not forget that it is a fine wine-producing country.
Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2010 (£10.44 www.waitrosewine.com) from the island of Santorini is an invigorating white made from the Assyrtiko grape. I love its shrill fruit and crisp acidity and mineral edge. It’s a very decent wine to have with some seasonal crab, if the budget will allow. One of the most delightfully unexpected reds I know is the Pezzagrande Cacc'e Mmitte di Lucera Masseria Celentano 2007 (£8.95 www.leaandsandeman.co.uk) from Puglia in Italy.
The name gives no clue to the odd mix of Italian varieties and it seems rather sad to get too bogged down in such detail when you try this hugely entertaining, very moreish un-oaked wine that has bright, ripe strawberry fruits with a slightly chalky edge. It’s quite different and rather lovely.
So, there you have it — a small number of palate-awakening wines that I think are good to try. As for the dog, well, I am keeping him well clear of the cork screw and am putting the TV remote in a drawer when I pop out… just in case!