I’ve been writing this blog on and off for ten years, so I’ve now got a decade’s worth of experience as a drinks writer to share with you, dear reader. I’ve witnessed the rise of natural wine, I’ve seen the choice of gin in a pub go from two to 22 and I’ve watched the price of Scotch whisky go bananas. And yet I’ve got nothing interesting to say about any of them. Instead, here are my bits of wisdom:
Big brands can be good:
When I worked in the wine trade back before the internet or mobile telephony, we used to turn our noses up at people who asked for Moet. Well, I tried Moet recently and it’s delicious. Everything you want from an NV champagne. For a G&T, nothing beats Beefeater and Schweppes, the Johnnie Walker range is excellent, and ignore Stanley Tucci, ordinary Martini Rosso is great in a Negroni.
You can cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink:
Oxidised wine, flat champagne, and tired port are all fine to cook with. Especially if you’re going to cook it for a long time. I’ve made boeuf bourguignon with dozens of wines and the biggest difference is always the quality of the meat. And that aggressively sharp white wine that someone brought round, it’ll probably be great for making gravy.
Lemon ruins a Martini:
I had this epiphany recently, a spray of lemon oil totally obliterates the taste of the gin. Distillers spend time getting the balance right. Don’t spoil it with a massive wack of lemony oil. Have an olive instead.
Cheap reds are better than cheap whites:
I am sure someone can explain to me why this might be, probably something to do with flavour in the grape skin, but you know it’s true.
Just order the Beaujolais:
Unless you’re dining with fellow wine bores (or maybe especially if you’re dining with fellow wine bores when getting a drink can take hours as everyone wants to look at the list), don’t spend ages looking through the wine list for the perfect bottle to go with everyone’s food. Order a bottle of decent Beaujolais, it goes with pretty much everything and then you can get on with enjoying people’s company. The white wine equivalent is Macon.