Last year I was invited to a wine tasting ahead of Christmas by the supermarket Asda. It was around the same time that they were being publicly slammed on social networking sites like Twitter for having the humor to produce a very tongue in cheek advert for the holiday season.
The advert showed ‘Mum’ doing everything for the big day from the shopping and decorating to wrapping and cooking. I for one took it for exactly as it was intended; a tongue in cheek look at Christmas with a good element of truth and a lot of humor. I saw no wrong in it at all and as a Mum myself can say that in my own experience it’s very true to life as well as being funny!
I really enjoyed my wine tasting evening with the supermarket giant and it prompted me to write about my feelings towards the advert here. It also obviously gave me lots to write about wine wise which is not something I wold consider my usual forte. Phillipa Carr, Asda’s Master of Wine was on hand to answer questions at the evening and give her advice. She explained why she had chosen, even helped develop, the wines on offer in Asda’s aisles and invited us to try them with her to see for ourselves why Asda know their stuff when it comes to vino!
She helped me select a very inexpensive but good wine from the region my in-laws have a house in the South of France and it became a Christmas present for them. It also it gave me a good idea about what we were going to drink last festive season and I very much enjoyed learning about something new.
Yesterday the wine people at Asda asked me if I would like to go and learn a bit more while trying out this year’s offerings picked again by Phillipa’s master eye and of course her hand too for she does personally assist some of the wine makers in the full process; from the grape selection on wards!
The team had set the tasting out by colour, bubbles, hemispheres and sweeties and Phillipa had set up three tables with her top picks for Christmas. She had a table for ‘Family Christmas’, one for ‘Luxury Christmas’ and a table with some of the Asda medal and award winning wines!
I knew that there was no way I could taste everything in the room. I don’t know what I’m looking for and I don’t like so many wines that I find it tough to taste the ones not pleasant to my own palate! I like a medium style white wine and I LOVE bubbles. I choose my wine by price and avoid anything Chardonnay as I find it too dry. Phillipa must have been exasperated by me but she patiently showed me what would be good for me and steered me in the direction of things she thought I would like to try.
I over heard someone else talking who said we are the only nation who guzzle wine before dinner. Everywhere else wine is enjoyed with each course of a meal… I’m definitely guilty of pre dinner wine guzzling and by the time I eat I probably wouldn’t notice if the wine compliments the dish let alone need it to! But… As I tried all the wines in Phillipa’s lists I could taste exactly why she had chosen the ones she had to go with each meal and I even tried the reds.
It was the little tipples outside of proper meals that I absolutely loved though! Just as with the food and how I enjoy all the nibbly bits more than the main event, with drink I think this is me too! I especially like the bubbles at Christmas and the The Wine Selection Asti Spumanti SV is one of Phillipa’s favourites. It’s only 7% in alcohol and at just £5.26 a bottle is super value. I was always under the impression that Asti was for teenagers to get drunk on but Phillipa says she loves to drink it on Christmas Eve while eating Panettone and it’s absolutely the start of Christmas for her. Well, if it’s good enough for Phillipa…
Luxury Christmas and Medal Winners!
Again it was all about the bubbles for me! Well what kind of luxury would it be without a sparkling wine? I love Champagne and Prosecco for something sweeter. The Extra Special Prosecco which I remember Phillipa recommending last year is just £8.25 a bottle and it’s delicious! When it comes to Champagne I thought I knew what I liked. My in-laws often have a bottle of Veuve (£32.00) on the go and I’ve always enjoyed it but comparing it to the medal winning Extra Special Louis Bernard Premier Cru Champagne NV (£19.75 but with a terrific offer over Christmas), it tasted harsh! I much preferred the Asda Champagne which Phillipa helped to hand create!
Also on the ‘luxury Christmas’ table were some sweet wines. I generally like them but wouldn’t go out of my way however one was just so delicious I couldn’t help but go back for another taste and I absolutely didn’t spit it out!
My Mum would adore this Moncucco Moscato D’Asti (£14.98)! She really doesn’t like wine in general but I know the sweet yet non sickly essence to this dessert offering would draw her in. It did me and was like a warming nectar! I’d have to be very careful not to polish the whole bottle off if we had some in the house! I loved it!
There were so many wines to try yesterday and I of course couldn’t try them all with my novice nose and taste buds. I did have to ask Phillipa about Portuguese wines though; Portugal is where we got married and holiday every year after all. In the summer months we drink Vino Verde from wherever we can get it but Asda work with some Portuguese winemakers and can offer more than just the typical summer bottle! She directed me towards two meaty reds which weren’t my cup of tea as I don’t like red wine but I could hear good noises being made from the pros! I also thought I would be daring and try a number of Chardonnays which I couldn’t stand; funnily enough though it was a Portuguese Chardonnay that I found I could have sat down to drink where all the others would have to go left!
The Tagus Creek Chardonnay Ferrao Pires (£6.25) would never have caught my eye in the supermarket as it has the dreaded word Chardonnay on the front. Why did I like it then? Surely not just because it’s Portuguese! Nope, Phillipa explained that the bottle does use Chardonnay grapes and it is stated as of course this is what people know. The other grape variety used, Ferrao Pires, is mixed with it however to give it an entirely different taste. I loved it and the Portuguese grapes were obviously just what was needed to take the edge of the sharp and dry Chardonnay for me!
Well… That’s it then! Bubbles and wines for our Christmas firmly noted and under the hat!
I have not been paid to write this post but I was asked to the wine tasting for the purpose of review.