Expanding horizons

Vin Santo and biscotti (Photo: Wikipedia)

Are you stuck in a wine rut?

Humans are creatures of habit, so when we find something we like, we tend to stick with it.

With so many great wines in the world, it is a shame not to experience them all, irrespective of their sweetness, colour or style.

It is the same with wine. We all get our favourite styles and producers, and we drink them over and over again. I find that people tend to put themselves in a box with statements like ‘I’m a riesling drinker’, ‘I only like dry wines,’ or ‘I never drink red’.

Of course, drinking the wines we know is safe and comforting, but it means we can miss out on some great taste experiences. Our preferences can be blinding.

Wines express themselves differently depending on what we are eating. And not all wines suit all occasions, so we need to create opportunities to enjoy different styles.

I adore sweet wines and often lament that I don’t find enough opportunities to drink them. Although they are commonly served with dessert, I prefer them with cheese. They also make a fantastic aperitif, particularly when ice-cold.

I recently opened a bottle of the 2018 Rieslingfreak No. 8 Riesling. It is a wine with extraordinary flavour intensity, incredibly low alcohol of 6% and a sugar level of 58g/L. The 10 grams of acid certainly balances the sugar, but there is no denying that it is a sweet wine.

Now many ‘dry’ wine drinkers might ignore a wine like this, because of the sweetness. However, the key is pairing it with the right food.

I served the Rieslingfreak No. 8, well-chilled, as an aperitif, alongside a stinky washed-rind cheese. The acidity sliced through the richness of the cheese and the sweetness simply slipped away, allowing the glorious lime flavours to shine. It was a magic match.

It reminded me that I need actively create opportunities to drink different wine styles. Such as making a cassoulet to pair with a rustic French red or serving a cheese platter purely to enjoy an old Rutherglen Topaque.

With so many great wines in the world, it is a shame not to experience them all, irrespective of their sweetness, colour or style.

So, I think it’s high time I made some biscotti to go with that Vin Santo I’ve been saving.

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