Our story begins in ancient times, 6000 years B.C., in the territory of modern-day Georgia. Someone mistakenly left a certain amount of grapes lying in the sun, causing it to spontaneously ferment and produce liquid, which is now considered to be the forerunner of what we now know as ‘wine’.
This divine drink is certainly one of the oldest examples of produce from early civilisation that has been unearthed. The Ancient Egyptians first recognised the importance of recording the geographic origin of wines, doing so by labelling their containers. In Ancient Greece, wine was viewed as a powerful elixir with many myths and legends being told of its power, and numerous festivities were performed in honour of Dionysus, the Greek God of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine.
By the Roman era, there was a mass cultivation of vineyards across Europe, encouraged by their enhanced knowledge of grape diseases and recognition of the qualities of the various grape varieties. During the Middle Ages, the monks and religious leaders took note of the importance of wine, and therefore assigned it more of a religious significance. But by far the largest contribution to the wine industry was the widespread use of the glass bottle in 1622, which thereby enabled mass production and distribution of the wine without spoiling. As a result, wine is enjoyed today in all parts of the globe.
In our Modern era, wine has played a major role. Many artists have found inspiration through it, and sought refuge in it. Wine has been instrumental to their lives as they have relied upon it to clear their minds of the distractions of life, achieving a state of peace and serenity through which they accomplish their most exquisite works, and are thereby indebted to it. It is said that “Wine is the Sun poured into a glass, and the glass is the last robe of the wine on its journey to our senses.”
Alexander Fleming, the world-famous scientist and inventor of Penicillin, once said “It is true that Penicillin cures people, but it is wine that makes them happy.” Mihajlo Pupin, Serbian Physicist and Chemist and founder member of what later became NASA, said “Wine should be integrated into our meals, as a diamond is integrated into a ring.” One humourous remark says “One drinks wine with one’s spirit, and beer with one’s stomach.”
The art of corresponding a wine to a food is a great one, and one which many would say does not have strict rule. Indeed this is true, for it is said ‘de gustibus non est disputandum’ (in matters of taste, there can be no disputes). Nevertheless, we would like to present you with a few suggestions of combinations.
Wines can be chosen to suit the food, or vice versa. However, the wine should be an accompaniment to the food and not simply can after-thought. The basic rule in wine consummation is, first, to completely swallow a mouthful of the food and then to take a sip of wine. It is not beneficial to partake of the wine whilst chewing the food, as it would only serve to act as a spice to the food.
Examples of successful tried-and-tested wine combinations include:
- Strong, flavourful meats, especially game, are best accompanied by strong red wines, well-aged, which are rich in tannins with a bitter tone. The aroma of such wines is more conspicious if cooled to a temperature of 15-17 ºC – therefore, to achieve the rich aroma required, the wine should be allowed to warm slightly
- Cabernet Sauvignon is well suited to warm Lamb, as are all strong, matured wines of the Bordeaux variety
- Appetisers, Chicken dishes and Mediterranean meals rich in creamy sauces are finely complemented by a mild, swaying white wine
- In general, Mushroom dishes are best served with a red wine variety
- In some cases, flavour combinations can contrast rather that complement each other to achieve a successful result. For example, Salmon served in a Hollandaise Sauce may conventionally be accompanied by a creamy Chardonnay of similar flavour profile, whereas a Riesling from Germany would provide a refreshing taste contrast for the palate
- Dessert wines are usually served with desserts.
Wine is often viewed as a potent aphrodisiac and finds an integral role in the search for romance. So we invite you to immerse yourself in the art form that is wine. Experiment with flavour combinations, seek new and exciting ways to enjoy its splendour. And yet, there is but one rule to this art to which you must alway abide – Provide your senses with a complete indulgence.
Enjoy the splendour of this intoxicating elixir at our Little Bay restaurants, which pride themselves of their wide ranges of White, Red and Rose wines, as well as a selection of Sparkling Wines and Champagnes. Do visit us and experiment with your tastebuds! – www.littlebay.co.uk