Resident SuperValu Wine Expert Kevin O’Callaghan gives us a round-up of some of the most popular questions he gets on the SuperValu Facebook and Twitter pages.
If you were to suggest three different wines to cover a wide range of occasions and different people’s tastes that you could have in the house in case family and friends called over or you had forgotten to buy wine (highly unlikely), what would they be and why?
Brilliant question, Sarah. Where do I start? The party lubricant, a crowd pleaser, would be Finca Labarca Rioja Crianza. Its black fruits and soft texture match well with most meals. For a weekend favourite in a white, look for Villa Maria when it’s on offer. It’s a brilliant white with a great concentration of fruit flavours. The touch of class would be Aresti Trisquel Syrah, which is a wine big on flavours but with a velvety smooth texture and brilliant elegance.
How many calories are in a bottle of wine and is it different for red and white?
Wine can vary, but typically a bottle of wine at 13% ABV would be about 600 calories.
I have to say I do enjoy the ritual of peeling back the foil, uncorking the bottle and hearing the pop before pouring the wine. With the screwcap it just isn’t the same. Does the way the wine is sealed affect the flavour and body of the wine? And is the screwcap the way of the future in the wine industry or will the cork survive too?
To give one answer, screwcap is better. I agree that the whole passion and romance of opening a wine is lost somewhat, but at least you have more guaranteed quality, so it keeps the wine in the condition that the wine maker expected you to enjoy.
What Cabernet Sauvignon would you recommend? I seem to be going off Merlot. Why is this?
I’m guessing Merlot is, or was, your favourite grape and maybe you stuck to the same couple of wines of that variety. If so, what’s probably happening is that your palate is starting to mature and is craving new flavours. It happens with foods too, like cheese. People get more adventurous and search out new sensations and tastes, not always consciously, so lucky you, I say! Try a bottle of Aresti Estate Cabernet, which is nice and soft, or a blended Merlot Cabernet like Michel Lynch Barrel Select. But if you’re craving something new, try Pablo Old Vine Garnacha. Trust me!
Does the type of glass you drink wine from affect the taste?
For me, yes. It’s a very debatable topic, but I love red wine from bigger glasses, and the thinner the glass, the better on the lips. Drink white wine from smaller glasses – I hate it when people pour me large white wines. For me, white should be little and often so you have it chilled all the time.
Is it true that no matter what the price is for a bottle of wine, if there is a hollow on the bottom of the bottle it’s a nicer wine than if there is no hollow on the bottom?
It might surprise you to know that this is one of the more frequently asked questions I get. There are many reasons for the hollow. In the early days of glass blowing, it was used to strengthen the bottle, as thicker glass bottles were needed to give more stability as well as adding weight to the base of taller wine bottles to ground them more. But the same wine can also be put into environmentally friendly bottles that are lighter and have little or no punt (or hollow), a direction the wine world is increasingly moving in. So the answer is no, not always, but there are exceptions to everything.
I always enjoy a bottle of red Faustino or Campo Viejo wine with my meal. A Rioja is always the first thing I ask for. Can you advise me on what wines I should be having with different dishes?
Rioja is a great ‘go to’ wine for food, as it tends to have a more velvety texture. This comes from using American oak barrels, which give more vanilla flavours to the wine. It’s great with all grilled meats, lamb, duck and tapas. For something new, try Ribera del Duero, also from Spain, or Condado de Oriza, which is in a similar style. Or try bigger Australian Merlots, like Nugan Gold Label Merlot, which will be a bit different but great with rich foods. You can also look for different levels of Rioja, like Reserva and Gran Reserva, which have even more matured flavours.
How do you make rosé?
The contact with the red grape skins is cut short versus that of full red wines, which means less colour is imparted. All grape juice is clear – it’s the level of contact with the skins that gives wine its colour.
What is the best wine to drink with chocolate?
Ann, you’re a woman after my own heart. There’s no better combo. I was at a tasting where we had chilli-flavoured chocolate with a Shiraz, which was really amazing. Shiraz has a little spice and even a bit of pepper, which worked well. It depends on the chocolate too. I like Italian wine, especially Ripasso or Amarone, as there is a certain sweet combo there and they are deeply flavoured wines that cleanse the chocolate from your palate to give the next bit an all-new feel. Thanks, Ann – you’ve convinced me to pick one up on the way home!