|Apologies for the dribble of red wine: an all-action shot!|
Tannins are found in the grape skin, stem and pips; it’s the same astringent bitterness as tea and walnuts, for example. Tannins – despite drying out your mouth – are vital for producing a structured wine, giving that full-bodied feeling and help it age, acting as a preservative. A wine too low in tannins would taste pretty lousy – soft and flabby. The key to tannins is balance – i.e. the skill of the wine maker – and of course age (what you eat with it too is really important). Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in the prices, which can be –appropriately – mouth-watering. This often makes me reticent about paying up for a wine that I have no idea of what it could taste like because the tannins are so in your face (mouth). But happily, wine appreciation is deeply subjective and all about research – I clearly just need to visit the north Rhone and learn more.
So, enough of the theory and my aversion and onto the wine. Thanks to my wine guru, Colin Wills from Uncorked, I now have a go-to North Rhone wine that won’t break the bank and overwhelm with the tannins. It’s a Cotes du Rhone, which is generic to the entire Rhone region but relatively little is actually made in the North Rhone. This is beautiful, dinner-party worthy wine; I could taste more red fruit than black, violets, a touch of spice and that archetypal peppery finish. The tannins are there of course but are not over powering.
As with pretty much any full bodied red wine, do not attempt to drink this without food! Red meat and game is a classic pairing with Syrah so choose your ‘meatiest’ dish; I specifically cooked Puy Lentils with Beetroot & Hazelnuts when trying out this wine. Buckwheat with Sundried Tomato & Aubergine would also be good. Avoid anything with chilli.
At a glance:
- Style? Full bodied red wine
- Where from? North Rhone, France
- What’s the grape? Syrah
- Tastes of? Raspberries, redcurrants, black pepper – slightly perfumed
- What food would complement it? Mushrooms, puy lentils and aubergines work well