Tag Archives: Wine

Top Eight Movies for Wine Lovers

Picture the scene: the fire is lit and you’re tucked up in your warmest clothes; it’s raining outside, and all you have is a bottle of your favourite wine (be it red, white or even orange!). It’s perfect.

There’s nothing I love more than sitting back with a good film or documentary, and really easing into what it’s all about.

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to wine, but I do love it completely. Its complexity constantly leaves me in awe and its ability to make me keep wanting to learn more, excites me.

Here are some of my favourite movies about the beloved bottles of vino that I care about so much:

Red Obsession (2013)

Taking a look at China’s early 21st century frenzy over Bordeaux’s heavily sough premier cru, this documentary shows the impact of wine as a luxury product for the richest of the rich. Narrated by Russell Crowe, the film interviews industry experts, critics and wine lovers.

Sideways (2004)

A comedy-drama that revolves around wine, Sideways stars Paul Giamatti agus Thomas Haden Church as almost mismatched friends that head out on a trip for a last single-guy bonding experience before a wedding!

A Year in Burgundy (2013)

The film follows seven wine-making families in the, you guessed it, Burgundy region of France throughout the course of a full year. It takes a look at the creativity involved with making wine and its ties to the terroir.

SOMM (2013)

An emotional and illuminating look at the Court of Master Sommeliers and its incredibly difficult Master Sommelier Exam. Since the court’s inception there are less than 200 people who have claimed the title. If you think you know about wine – think again!

MondoVino (2004)

Focusing on the impact of globalization on the world’s different wine regions – It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and a César Award.

Blood Into Wine (2010)

A transition from rock star to farmer! This film takes a look at the Northern Arizona wine industry, focusing in on multi-platinum recording artist Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski, and their Caduceus brand wine.

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

In an Italian town renowned for its vineyards, the residents discover that Nazi troops plan to take all their wine for themselves. Determined to keep as many bottles as they can, the townsfolk all team up in attempt to hide it away.

Barolo Boys: The Story of a Revolution (2014)

Ever heard of Barolo wine? This film tells the story of how it became a world phenomenon through the initiative of a group of small-scale wine producers, known as the Barolo Boys.

Barolo Boys.The Story of a Revolution (2014) International Trailer HD from Stuffilm on Vimeo.

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons/Bujar I Gashi)

Ballymaloe Day 73: Úna dreams of sushi

I yawned so hard this morning that I thought my head would fall off.

Last night in a bid to get all of the last minute wine revision into our system, Sophie, Martha and I blitzed through our notes.

Up at the crack of dawn, we pulled on our chef whites, for formality, and heading into the cookery school for our wine exam.

With an hour to answer 100 questions on wine, I was glad I had studied beforehand. Though there were a few questions that I wasn’t 100% sure about, thankfully I felt quite comfortable going through the whole paper.

With a short break before our official learning day began, I pulled on normal clothes and prepared for a demo of glorious sushi.

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Anyone that knows me will probably know that I’m absolute sushi and sashimi fiend, so I was pretty excited to be learning all about how to put this nuggets of rice together.

Though I’ve eaten a monster’s worth of sushi over the years (and easily a kilo of sashimi), I’ve only ever rolled them twice!

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(Darina fanning the sushi rice, much to our amusement!)

After my fill of sushi, dolma and lamb – a bizarre but wonderful conglomerate of food – the afternoon demo took a new turn into Christmasland.

Now personally I’m not a huge fan of the sweeter side of Christmas, except mulled wine, but I was still fascinated to see everything come together in a festive array of food.

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(Pam working her magic)

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(Tracie and Pat rocking the festive look)

Coming up with frosted tangerines, pudding, trifle, mincemeat pies and a yule log, Pam and her team of merry reindeer elves worked hard at making Christmas beautiful.

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Feeling a bit under-the-weather, but thankfully not bad yet, tomorrow we’re back in the kitchen where I’ll be cooking duck legs with onion and thyme among other things.

Ciao!

Some random things I learned today:

  • Nori is seaweed that has been roasted and pressed.
  • Wasabi comes from the root of the wasabi plant – yes, it’s a plant!
  • Pickled ginger is meant to be a palate cleanser when you’re eating sushi.
  • When buying rice vinegar, check to see that it’s not flavoured in any way – better to get it as natural as possible.
  • If you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, try Tamari sauce!

Ballymaloe Day 70: The best bottle on the table is always the empty one

It was a rough start to a Sunday morning. Waking up late to the sound of tweeting birds, I knew that there was only one thing I’d be studying all day: wine.

For those who don’t know, we have a flock of white pigeons that live above our Coach House that like to come down each day for a drink and a feed.

Somewhat soothing, their presence is quite lovely, especially when they let you give them a stroke of their feather – So you can imagine my horror when we saw a fat cat nabbing one!

Rushing out in my pyjamas and wellies, I tried to get to it as fast as I could but he was sadly pulled away. Feeling glum, we gave the rest of the birds a feed and then noticed another bird in distress.

Tossing and turning on the gravel, a small robin red-breast had flown into one of the windows in the courtyard and was in a complete panic – he sadly lost his battle too.

Totally disheartened, the rest of the day pretty much just involving me stuffing my face at regular intervals while on my break from studying wine.

By the way, Colm always stressed that when it came to wine it was all about personal taste and even remarks in our notes that, “the best bottle on the table is always the empty one”. Don’t ever worry if you feel out of your depth when it comes to wine – I certainly once thought that I would never know anything.

Going through styles, regions, varieties and terminology, I think it’s only fair if I treat myself to a glass of Riesling.

Tomorrow marks the start of week 11 and with just two weeks left, I can’t believe that we’ve made it this far.

Cheers!

(My avocado was just perfectly ripe today, hence the proud photo)

Ballymaloe Day 67: Here’s to Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau!

The icing sugar began to go brown and then turned a shade of black – like a hawk I gazed into the dark pit of the oven with my fingers crossed behind my chef whites.

You’re probably sick of me talking about my tiredness for the past few days but it’s actually become part of life here at Ballymaloe.

It’s so hard to believe that 67 days have already gone by, and how much we’ve learned. We’re constantly learning – there are days when you feel like you’re useless in the kitchen and then others when you feel over the moon.

Today was an amusing one to say the least and it all started with having to hand in our final menu to Pam.

Last night I had to rewrite my ingredients list three times due to me being silly, and I was glad when I was able to part with my sheets of paper. With a ream of things on my list, I have just hope that it’ll go well and I won’t mess up elements of my dishes.

On the menu today I was working on puff pastry, brioche and French onion soup, which doesn’t sound like a lot but the prep work is immense.

Brioche takes two days to do here and with determination that I would get today’s batch nice and brown and actually look like brioche (unlike my first feeble attempt), I lept into action.

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(My double “s” brioche)

With the mandolin being my best friend, my soup was on and ready to carmelise with keen supervision from watchful eyes (over a kilo of onions by the way!)

Time was flying by and before I knew it, I was getting close to lunch time with no pastry to show for my Gateau Pithivier.

With the kind help and encouragement from my teacher Tracie (as they say, she’s a “ledgeball”), she steered me on the path of completion.

Finally, after feeling like Kitchen 1 would end up being for the rest of my life, I made it out and into demo and slouched into my seat – my legs ached, my back hurt, but I was happy with how things eventually managed to pull themselves together.

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(My mini-brioches)

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(My gateau filled with almonds, looks not as appealing here but was pretty tasty!)

We had the wonderful Emer as our demo maestro day and with expertise and precision she was like a bullet going through all the dishes. I really enjoy how she brings things together and her plating, though sometimes simple can be so elegant.

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Serving up roast pork and crackling, I nearly died with excitement – I’m a sucker for dishes like this and was pumped for tasting (by the way, it was divine).

But wait! Didn’t you come here for news about Beaujolais Nouveau? Don’t worry, I’m getting there!

This evening as a special treat, Colm McCan brought in bottles for us to taste and try in celebration of Beaujolais season.

For those who don’t know, Beaujolais Nouveau is only released once a year on the 3rd Thursday each November. It’s a red wine made from Gamay grapes and is produced in the Beaujolais region of France.

The reason it’s so popular is that it’s fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale with people racing to get bottles around the globe. They’re like collectors’ items.

The tasting was made even more special because we had a bottle of Pimae Muscadet Nouveau which has never been in Ireland before – Yipee!

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(Reads: Don’t open before Thursday the 20th November)

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(My wine bottle collection – good memories attached to all!)

Tomorrow will see me having a super busy Friday, with a Mediterranean Fish Soup and Rouille on the go, as well as roast pork with crackling and spiced aubergines.

Bonne nuit!

Some random things I learned today:

  • Always score the pork loin/belly/meat the way you’re going to carve it. Makes it much easier to deal with when it’s out of the oven.
  • Key to scallops? Cook on a non-stick pan that has to be super hot. No need for oil and don’t touch it when it goes on the pan, move it and it sticks (they just need a minute). You only need to turn it once and on the turn it should only take about 30 seconds.
  • When cooking pork, don’t cover it when it comes out of the oven to rest because it’ll get soggy.
  • Clementines are seedless and tangerines are said to have come from Tangier, Morocco. However, mandarins are sometimes used to cover tangerines and clementines.

Ballymaloe Day 57: Members of the Lost Knives Club

A crack of bone, a shimmy of the knife.

Sometimes I often muse about the amount of knives here at the cookery school. Since the start of the course, many students have become “members of the lost knives club” (as Rachel calls it), but bizarrely they end up finding their way back home – be in two kitchens away or hiding in a sneaky drawer!

Today my knives were earning their keep as I got to work on a rather elaborate Ballymaloe Apple Tart.

This was my first week in Kitchen 1, and with a new partner, new teacher and new surroundings to get used to, I knew that I had to get in early to kickstart the week.

The apple tart required two different pastries – flaky and shortcrust, as well as a lot of chilling, rolling and cooking time – so as I got to work bashing out my flaky, my fingers were crossed hopping that it would turn out well!

After what seemed like years preparing the many layers, I popped my baby into the oven and kept an eye on it with stern looks.

As a beautiful treat, we got to cook with wild salmon today and I was determined to do it justice.

A gorgeous pink colour, I poached the salmon in water seasoned with Maldron Seasalt (a tablespoon to two pints), and let it sit happily in the pot. The secret, Ballymaloe believes, is to have a pot that barely fits the salmon, and to have water barely covering it – a casserole/Le Crueset dish does this well, or those fancy fish kettles.

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(My poached salmon with Hollandaise on a bed on minted peas and topped with chervil)

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(My apple tart, nice and flaky!)

Delighted with the end results, and with approval from my teacher Debbie, I was happy to get to tuck into the fish at lunchtime.

The rain lashed down and hit the demo windows, and glancing down the list I was glad what I saw what Rachel was going to be demonstrating.

From a hearty Italian stew, a beef and kidney pie and an oxtail casserole – it was hot dish heaven.

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(Rachel brandishing an oxtail aka something out of Alien!)

A late evening wine lecture saw our favourite sommelier Colm McCan come in to talk to us about Champagne, orange wine, sweet wines and port and as always he had a fountain of knowledge to share with us.

“Into the bath, into the fridge – chill them!” Colm mused of serving well-chilled bottles of Champagne, and how right he is.

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By the way, did you know that Winston Churchill was a massive fan of Pol Roger champagne and supposedly drank a pint of it everyday during World War II?! More recently, Beyoncé requested it for her wedding to Jay-Z (“Not often you get Winston Churchill and Beyoncé in the same sentence” says Colm!)

Along with learning about the facts behind the wines, we also got to taste. It was my first time tasting an orange wine and it was definitely a curious experience.

With umami running through both the smell and taste, as well as a smokey aftertaste and tanins resting on my cheeks, it’s certainly something I’m willing to try again but with food.

On the other hand, I definitely don’t think I’ll ever warm to sweet wines, and as much as I’m ready to appreciate the work that goes into them when two taste like Turkish Delight and Marmalade, I think my tastebuds don’t exactly enjoy it – I am however willing to splash out on an excellent port someday.

Tomorrow I’m doing a random mix of dishes including Asian pakoras with mango relish, curly kale and dessert yoghurt with cardamom cream.

Some random things I learned today:

  • For flavouring vinegars, it’s best to add a few sprigs into a bottle and allow to stand for a week before using.
  • Vinegar comes from the French “vin-aigre”, meaning “sour wine”.
  • Champagne can be: Non-Vintage, Vintage, Prestige Cuvées
  • Three wine varieties in Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
  • The colour in wine only comes from the grape skin – so any grape can make a white wine.
  • Most Champagnes are a blend of two or three grape varieties.
  • A Champagne made from only the black/red grapes is called a Blanc de Noirs.
  • A well-chilled bottle of Champagne helps to subdue the pressure in the bottle, as some pressure in the bottle is the same as the pressure in double-decker bus tyres.
  • Orange wines are amber coloured wines that are white wines that are produced like red wines – prolonged contact with grape skin gives colour.
  • Sweet wines or dessert wines are made when the grapes are attacked by what’s known as a “noble rot” – this shrivels the grapes and concentrates the flavour.
  • Port, like Sherry, is a fortified wine. It has a protected status and has to be made in Portugal to be called a “Port” – like Champagne has to be made in Champagne.

Ballymaloe Day 52: a “toolbox of flavours”

The top layer of cheese on the flan was bubbling silently like a golden orb of oozing joy. It was inviting me to eat it.

Today was all about vegetarian food and with a list of rather intriguing dishes in front of her, Darina went through what she planned to showcase for the day.

“If you’re a low-fat milk person – out of the house!” Darina announced during demo, “it’s not good for you”.

According to our headmistress, she believes that low-fat milk is missing a lot of the key nutrients that we need and being at Buttermaloe, I’ve definitely learned that full-fat is the way to go!

I think that a lot of people often think that vegetarian food is limited and bland, but honestly if you saw the dishes that were revealed in front of us, that impression would be shot out the window.

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Demonstrating a chickpea chili with tamarind and coriander by chef Skye Gyngell, Darina said that her friend had a “toolbox of flavours”, and is just so good at coming up with some fascinating and beautiful combinations on a plate.

I can safely say, that today’s lunch was definitely one of the best so far, and was actually one of the few that I went up for seconds because of the freshness and lightness of the dishes (the aubergine flan which I was describing at the start of this blog was particularly fabulous).

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Easing myself off the dining room chair, I toddled into the afternoon lectures smacking my lips.

The wine lecture as usual was hosted by Colm McCan and he was joined again by Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau in Kilkenny.

Going on a few plane journeys from Kerry “International” Airport (yes, we have an airport!), we did a whirlwind trip to the Rhone Valley, Spain and Italy, and tasted some pretty super wines.

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Learning about the Rhone Valley was particularly apt today as it’s Rhone Wine Week, with various events taking place across the country for wine enthusiasts and those who have just embarked on their wine journey – like me!

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(Pascal teaching us all about Rhone)

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that before this course, I had pretty minimal experience of wine, but because of Colm’s enthusiasm (as well as his guests), I’ve developed a fondness and love for it.

The same goes for Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen’s love of craft beer – I’ve immense appreciation for them both and am looking forward to learning more.

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Zipping through the various wines, I found myself becoming more confident with smells and tastes and was relieved when Colm eased our minds about the impending wine exam.

An exam with 100 questions on wine and sherry, it’s not meant to catch you out but see what you know.

Finishing early I headed back to the house, saying hello to our growing chicks who have been having a lot of fun jumping around and swinging.

Tomorrow I’m on stock duty, which means I’ve to be in the kitchen at 8am and with a busy day of cooking ahead of that, I won’t be surprised if I’m in bed by 10pm.

Au revoir et bonne chance!

Some random things I learned today:

  • If you see Crozes-Hermitage/Hermitage/St-Jospeh and Cornas on a bottle of wine, it means that it’s made from Syrah grapes.
  • The red wine Cote-Rotie is made from syrah too but is blended with a small amount of Viognier grapes.
  • The white wine condrieu is made from 100% Viognier.
  • In the Rhone Valley there are no rows of grape vines because it’s so steep and working machinery there would be too dangerous. The vines are individual and all work is done manually.
  • There are around 350 (or more) different growers in Chateauneuf du Pape – so if you see a low-priced bottle, it’s probably not from the top producer and it might have a varying quality.
  • There are 13 grape varieties that are allowed to be in Chateauneuf de Pape.
  • Penedes in Spain is the heartland of the delicious sparkling wine Cava, whereas Prosecco is from the Veneto region in Italy.
  • Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape variety.

Ballymaloe Day 38: “Give sherry a chance!”

Finishing up the day by eating tapas with a smooth sherry was one of the highlights so far, and it was definitely one of those moments where I was so glad to be on this course.

With just two days before our mid-term exams, a group of us were up bright and early at 7am for a crash course with Haulie the gardener where he went through the various herbs and salads that we would inevitably be quizzed on.

Strolling through the gardens and glasshouses as the sun was rising, we were struck by this wonderful illuminating glow that spilled across the sky.

It was enough to brighten the spirits and the nervousness of exams was quickly washed away.

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As per usual, Wednesday was our wine lecture day and we had the lovely Colm McCan back with us to go through French wine regions.

Making stops in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace, we also went on a trip to South Australia and California.

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We got a wonderful taste of probably the best wines I’ve had on this course – I’m particularly fond now of Riesling (pronounced Reeseling).

If you ever spy a Pewsey Vake Dry Riesling from Eden Valley, snatch it up and try it with crab. I got this wonderful aroma of pears and citrusness as I sniffed the glass. It tasted so crisp and lingered in my mouth.

Notably on today’s wine tasting list was a Rochioli Pinot Noir from the Russian River in California which has quite a strong, concentrated fruity smell and just slides across the tongue.

After sipped delicately on our glasses Colm informed us that Ireland gets about five cases of this wine each year and that Ballymaloe House gets two of those cases, so basically we drank about 10% of the year’s allocation – so a special experience to say the least!

These are lessons worth savouring.

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By the time we got to lunch, though pumped full of knowledge, I was quite tired (I’ve been on low energy all week!) and as we scooted into our tapas demo, the upcoming extra sherry tasting with Colm seemed like a lifetime away.

Sherry immediately evokes the image of an old woman in her sitting room sipping on a teeny weeny glass, so I was amused to learn more about this curious drink.

Made in southern Spain, the grapes are picked and fermented like a white wine. Sherry is a fortified wine which means that a neutral high alcohol grape spirit is added after fermentation is complete – this raises the alcohol level.

Then it’s placed in what’s known as a solera system – an arrangement of barrels stacked on their sides – and then the sherry is drawn off the oldest barrel which is then topped up from the next oldest barrel and so on!

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(Me attempting to pour sherry the traditional way – see the video below)

Using a traditional Sherry Venencia from Ballymaloe Cookery School on Vimeo.

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(Me officially failing to do so!)

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(Emer demoing how to cook cuttlefish)

Serving alongside the sherry would be a vast selection of tapas, demoed by Darina and executed by Emer and Tracie.

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The dishes mounted in front of our headmistress and soon we had crispy patatas bravas, brandade de morue (salted cod with piquillo pepper), tortilla de patatas, cuttlefish, serrano ham and shrimps on display – but to name a few!

By the way, it’s worth noting that those little sherry glasses that we’re used to seeing in Ireland (especially at Granny’s house), aren’t actually proper sherry glasses because if you think about it, it doesn’t make sense for the type of alcohol level it has.

As Colm put it; you serve a pint in a bigger glass because it sits at about the 4.5% mark, the average wine (12%) goes into a wine glass but why does sherry go into a teeny one when it’s just above wine at 15 – 18%. It’s like serving a pint in a teacup.

Serving us in proper glasses, which are like smaller wine glasses, I tasted two sherries for the first time – a delightful Tio Pepe En Rama and an even more intriguing Palo Cortado.

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(Ian and Daniel attempting to fill sherry glasses!)

“Give sherry a chance”, says Colm, “it’s under-priced and undervalued!” Noted!

We’re back in the kitchen tomorrow where myself and Eilish will be rustling up a conglomerate of dishes, including a seafood platter and homemade tomato ketchup.

I mentioned this before but just so you know that there mightn’t be a blogpost going live this weekend for a few reasons – we’ve exams all day Friday and my other half is visiting for the bank holiday weekend! There will though be blogposts for each day, and I’ll be back posting them on site.

Some random things that I learned today:

  • The average Bordeaux wine barrel holds about 225 litres which is about 300 bottles of wine.
  • A white wine can be made from white and red grapes, the colour comes from the skin, which also adds tanins to the wine.
  • Good years for wine? 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010.
  • Guidelines for serving dry sherry – it MUST be served well chilled and freshly opened. It works excellently with food (I adored sherry with tapas but can definitely see it with seafood).
  • Short history of tapas – it’s said that they came to be when people started to cover their glasses of sherry with a bit of bread and ham because it attracted flies!
  • There are about eight types of tapas:
    • Pincho – tapas on cocktails sticks
    • Montaditos – tapas served on a small slice of bread
    • Minis – little white buns that have a filling
    • Tartaletas – tartlets with fillings
    • Tortillas – with shrimps, potatoes or chorizo
    • Platillos – “little plates” with things like a small salad or roasted peppers
    • Cazuelitas – tapas in clay pottery like various seafoods
    • Fritos – salted cod, bunueloas and croquettes!

Ballymaloe Day 10: Wine after wine

I shovelled the food into me like I hadn’t eaten in days, and as bizarre as it sounds – I hadn’t fed myself properly since I came here.

We were out of the kitchens today and started off our theory day with a few quick demonstrations on how to make quick and sweet tray bake squares.

Keeping in theme with our wine lecture that was to take place in the afternoon, we were soon introduced to Eddie O’Neill of Teagasc who was going to teach us all about making cheese!

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“We were a nation of Calvita-eaters!” Darina exclaimed to the chuckling crowd, as Eddie expertly showcased how to make cottage and semi-hard cheese. “Milk is an extraordinary ingredient”.

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By the time lunch came around I was absolutely ravenous and gulped, munched and ate like I was starving.

The weird thing about Ballymaloe is that so far you don’t really eat in the evenings at all, your clock is completely out-of-sync, and funnily enough you kind-of get exhausted at looking food all day. Sometimes all you want to do is sleep!

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One thing I was looking forward to though, was wine.

Last week we had our first introductory lecture on wine with Colm McCan, Ballymaloe’s consulting sommelier, and despite me being a complete wine novice, I found it absolutely fantastic.

Today he was joined by one of Ballymaloe House’s wine team, Oliver, as well as Peter Corr, a wine consultant who introduced Wolf Blass to the Irish market (and who in fact did the same 12-week course I’m currently on).

We tasted a variety of wines and started off with a lovely glass of Prosecco Corte Alta from Vento in Italy. With a refreshing taste, it left touches of pear upon my tongue (much to my delight!)

Fun fact: did you know that Prosecco is made from Prosecco grapes and in actually in a place called Prosecco?

Towards the end of our lecture Colm produced this absolutely stunning Riedel Eve decanter that looked like a smooth basilisk.

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Figuring it cost a fair bob I tried to stay as far away from it as possible – it’s amazing how self-conscious you can get around valuable objects.

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With wine glasses in hand and the sun beaming down on us, we headed outside for a spitting lesson as you do (don’t worry, we used water and the plants were well fed!)

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(Learning about spitting!)

As Peter pointed out, “don’t diss the notion of spitting – it’s essential” while Colm added that if you are at a tasting, you should taste and spittoon them all, and then go back for a glass of your favourite.

If there’s anything I’ve learned about wine, it’s that you need to pace yourself when it comes to tasting. If you ever head to a vineyard, the chances are you’re not going to be tasting just one wine, it could be several. You don’t want to end up falling all over the place.

Finally, we sipped on a Shiraz aka Syrah, courtesy of “The Chocolate Block” from South Africa. Smelling like trees and fresh herbs, the wine tasted so wonderful that I was dying to try another glass which amused me because I wouldn’t normally classify myself as a red wine drinker.

By far, the wine lectures have been my most favourite so far, which is simply because despite being fully loaded with information, there’s a lot of exciting things to learn.

Breaking down the barrier of being terrified of wine to knowing that it’s actually quite fun, must be a challenge for Colm but he and his team do it so well – I love the fact that we’re learning about styles and not brands.

Because we’re not scheduled to have another lecture until week five of the course – this announcement saw a wave of “awwwws” from the students – our kind sommelier plans to give us an extra lecture next week as a bonus!

Since my partner, Patricia, is out tomorrow, I get to choose whatever I like to cook and with a list of about six to choose from, as they say: the world is my oyster.

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Some things I learned today:

  • Goat and sheep cheese is always completely white, unless really infused with herbs.
  • Like wine and chilis, there are varying degrees of cream.
  • It is not illegal to sell raw milk, just isn’t commonly done across Ireland.
  • Flavoured butter is also known as compound butter.
  • Ricotta means “recooked” and is traditionally made by reboiling the whey.
  • If you’re serving cheese, you should place it on a wooden board – it allows the cheese to breath – it’s best to clean your board with salt and water.
  • Some commercially “smoked” cheese you see is actually just covered in liquid smoke. Artisan producers do it the traditional way.
  • Never open a bottle of fizz without chilling it – not only will you use a lot of it when it opens but it could pop into someone’s face!
  • Cabernet Franc is known as Cabernet Sauvignon’s younger brother, but of course is just as good.
  • “Claret”, is wine that comes from Bourdeaux.

Lidl to launch their largest French wine sale

Lidl has announced that it will launch an extensive new range of French wines into stores from Monday, 8th September (while stocks last).

The range will include 43 wines from across the classic regions of France, including Bordeaux, Bourgogne and the Loire Valley, and will be the supermarket’s largest wine offering to date.

The focus for the promotion is to offer premium wines, with prices ranging from €7.99 to €65.

Each wine has been rated by Master of Wine, Richard Bampfield, one of only 312 Masters of Wine in the world.

Here are more details on the wines that will be in store:

Bordeaux:

Arguably the most famous wine region in the world, Bordeaux is home to more than 10,000 producers. Famed for its superb reds and long-lived wines made by historic wine estates, most Bordeaux wines are dry, medium-bodied reds, with the finest and most prestigious coming from the great châteaux of Haut-Médoc, Graves, Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.

Closerie des Bories AOP 2010 RRP: €11.99
Rating: 88
This has exotic toast and black cherry aromas, which lead to a full-bodied gutsy palate with the warmth and depth of flavour one expects from the great 2010 vintage.

Pessac-Léognan AOP 2009 RRP: €19.99
Rating: 92
The great benefit of the wonderful 2009 vintage is that it has produced wine that is ripe and generous even when young. This is sumptuous and characterful, showing a good mix of ripe, black fruits and toasty oak. Characteristically dry on the finish, it is delicious now and will improve for a further 3 to 4 years.

Bourgogne:

Some of the most exciting wines in the world come from Burgundy. Red Burgundy wines are typically fruity, velvety and subtle.

La Croix des Célestins Fleurie AOP 2013 RRP: €11.99

Rating: 87

Fleurie is often considered the jewel in Beaujolais’ crown, consistently producing wines that are the best in the region. This has good depth of flavour, with a crisp, crunchy finish, reminiscent of a fresh red apple.

Loire:
The Loire region is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. It is known for producing excellent white wines and is the second largest producer of sparkling wines in France, after Champagne.

Cave des Vins De Sancerre AOP 2013 RRP: €15.99
Rating: 90

This has lovely scents of elderflower and pear, leading to a palate that is intensely flavoured yet still balanced and highly refreshing. A high quality dry white that would match well with white fish or the local favourite, goat’s cheese.

Alsace:

The Alsace region is located in Eastern France and shares borders with Germany and Switzerland. It produces almost exclusively white wines which are known for their clean, fresh taste.

Pinot Blanc AOP 2013 RRP: €9.99
Rating: 88

Gently aromatic, with notes of white flowers and pear. Medium-dry, fruity and highly appetising – most enjoyable, versatile white.

Côtes Du Rhône:

The Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley) is a long, narrow area which stretches on both banks of the river Rhône. A wide range of grape varieties are grown in the hillside vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône, producing a varied range of excellent red wines that are notable for their rich and spicy flavours.

Domain Messire de Very Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages 2013 RRP: €12.99
Rating: 90
Good wines from the Rhône Valley combine the juicy, crunchy fruit of the Grenache grape with the characteristic aromas of spice, pepper and garrigue from the region. This is a fine example, still youthful, with a mouthwatering finish and probably with its best yet to come. Best drunk with grilled meats, this is highly satisfying and will age well for another two or three years.

Full list of French wines and € pricing:

Wine Price €
Alsace, Riesling AOP  2013 sec Blanc €9.99
Alsace, Riesling Grand Cru Wiebelsberg  2012 sec Blanc €14.99
Alsace, Pinot Blanc AOP 2013 doux Blanc €9.99
Loire, Pouilly-Fumé AOP Domaine Gaudry 2013 sec Blanc €14.99
Loire, Pouilly-Fumé AOP Les Vignes de Saint Laurent L’Abbaye 2013 sec Blanc €14.99
Loire, Sancerre AOP  2013 sec Blanc €15.99
Bourgogne, Aligoté AOP Maison André GOICHOT 2012 sec Blanc €11.99
Bourgogne, Mâcon-Villages AOP La Belle Blonde 2013 brut Blanc €11.99
Bourgogne, Saint-Véran AOP Collin Bourisset 2013 sec Blanc €14.99
Sud-Ouest,  IGP Domaine de Ménard Colombard Sauvignon 2013 sec Blanc €8.99
Bordeaux, Sauternes AOP Château LE POUYS 2012 liquoreux Blanc €12.99
Languedoc-Roussillon, Pays d’oc IGP L’Escarpe 2013 sec Rosé €7.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône AOP Château Lignane 2013 sec Rosé €8.99
Beaujolais, Côte de Brouilly AOP Collin Bourisset 2013 sec Rouge €11.99
Beaujolais, Fleurie AOP La Croix des Célestins 2013 sec Rouge €11.99
Bordeaux, Fronsac AOP Château du Carillon 2010 sec Rouge €12.99
Bordeaux, Graves AOP Château Gales 2011 sec Rouge €12.99
Bordeaux, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOP Ch. Sauriac 2007 sec Rouge €19.99
Bordeaux, Pomerol AOP Château NENIN 2010 sec Rouge €65.00
Bordeaux, Pomerol AOP Cht Vieux Maillet 2007 sec Rouge €35.00
Bordeaux, Margaux AOP Chevalier de Lascombes 2010 sec Rouge €30.00
Bordeaux, Montagne-Saint-Émilion AOC Château Vieux Ferrand 2010 sec Rouge €14.99
Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru AOP Château Pailhas 2012 sec Rouge €19.99
Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru AOP Château Roylland 2008 sec Rouge €24.99
Bordeaux, Pauillac AOP Pauillac de Haut Bages Libéral  2010 sec Rouge €27.00
Bordeaux, Saint-Estèphe AOP Ch. Andron Blanquet 2009 sec Rouge €19.99
Bordeaux, Médoc AOP Château Bellevue  2010 sec Rouge €14.99
Bordeaux, Haut-Médoc AOP Moulin De Citran 2008 sec Rouge €14.99
Bordeaux, Côte de Blaye AOC Château le Menaudat 2009 sec Rouge €11.99
Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg AOP Château de Passedieu 2009 sec Rouge €9.99
Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg AOP Château Makay 2011 sec Rouge €12.99
Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon AOP Château Maugresin de Clotte 2010 sec Rouge €11.99
Bordeaux, Bordeaux AOP Château Bauvallon 2011 sec Rouge €9.99
Bordeaux, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux AOP Closerie Des Bories De Nicolas Thienpont 2010 sec Rouge €11.99
Bordeaux, Listrac AOP Tonnelle De Fonreaud 2010 sec Rouge €12.99
Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan AOP Château Pontet Caillou  2009 sec Rouge €19.99
Bordeaux, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux AOP Château Belrose Reserve Mon Caillou 2010 sec Rouge €9.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône AOP  2012 sec Rouge €7.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône AOP Les Hautes Roches 2013 sec Rouge €9.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages AOP Domaine du Pont Le Voy 2013 sec Rouge €9.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages AOP Seguret – Domaine Messire De Very 2013 sec Rouge €12.99
Rhône, Rasteau AOP Domaine Combe Dieu 2013 sec Rouge €11.99
Rhône, Saint-Joseph AOP  2011 sec Rouge €11.99

 

Steak and wine sale in stores at SuperValu

The perfect pairing? SuperValu steak and wine sale will run in stores for one week from  Thursday 31st July to Wednesday 6th August.

Some of the offers available include:

  • Save 33% on steak at the butcher counter
  • Buy any 6 wines and save an additional €10
  • Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz now €14 (save €4.99)

Other offers available that run in stores from Thursday July 31st to Wednesday 13th August include:

  • Fresh from the deli, SuperValu Irish Wiltshire Ham on the bone was €23.99/kg now €17.99/kg
  • Fresh from the deli, Supervalu Roast Turkey Breast off the bone was €25.99/kg now €19.49 save 25%
  • Great savings on gluten free pasta, breads and cereal with selected breads available from €1