I do not profess to be any kind of wine expert. In fact, so frustrated have I been by my poor wine choices at times, that I have refrained from drinking whilst eating, supping instead between courses to avoid an unwanted clash between content of plate and glass. It’s a weakness I have been keen to address. An invite to enjoy an evening pairing Furleigh Estates’ latest offerings with canapes by the ever-excellent hungry mule was therefore swiftly accepted and my most seasoned wine drinking friend enlisted to support my forays into the mysterious world of wine tasting.
The evening is led by the affable Susy Atkins, Saturday kitchen regular, Telegraph Magazine columnist and Delicious Magazine wine editor. If expertise were sought, clearly I’ve come to the right place. The table glistens with a very promising number of glasses and an ominous looking selection of equipment reminiscent of a high school chemistry set.
If anybody were under the impression they were here to simply relax and swill they are mistaken. We are instructed to select a guinea pig. This brave individual is to pour, drop by drop, the sparkling wine into a small measure of dosage, contained within a perilously thin cylinder. The dosage, a sugar wine solution, is used to reduce the acidity and soften the very dry wines produced within colder climates. We then taste Furleighs’ new release sparkling rosé – a pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier blend- with different levels of dosage. The glass with the lowest dosage reveals notes of strawberry and almond, whilst a mid-level of dosage has heightened honey tones and lengthened almond on the palate. A drop more dosage and the wine becomes uncomfortably sweet. It’s an enlightening way to examine wine, revealing far greater subtleties than a standard tasting.
To match the sparkling rosé, a selection of delicate canapes from Hungry Mule. The highlight is the tempura sea bass. Soft and mild, the sea bass melts under a crisp batter coating, a drizzle of sweet syrup with the merest shiver of ginger, the perfect accompaniment to the sweeter samples. A scallop crostini offers sweet shellfish with a citrus zing and an undercurrent of grassy pea. For the drier wines, king prawn chicory leaf with mango salsa.
Onto the sea pink, a pinot noir / rondo mix and a wine which, while amply quaffable, has turned many heads with its serious credentials. While the less sweet version suggests pear drop on the nose and light summer raspberries on the palate, the addition of dosage brings with it the richer flavours of blackcurrant and cherries, sweetened further still and cranberry comes into play.
No fear of unfortunate food / wine disharmony here; Hungry Mules canapés are perfectly judged – delicate, elegant and precisely executed: A classic salmon blini, the smoke deepening the complexity of the drier wines; tuna carpaccio- sundried tomato pesto offering fruitiness and pepper, a perfect match for the sea pink, a sliver of tempura shallot lending the required acidity and monkfish paired with prosciutto and roasted red pepper, the ideal partner for the fruitiest of rosés, slightly smoky and deliciously sweet. A pastry cup of smoked mackerel with horseradish crème fraiche, a classic combination, sits less comfortably alongside the sea pink, too punchy and oaky for the berry tones. Finally, a smoked haddock arancini showcases the drier end of the spectrum to great effect, the creaminess of the béarnaise rounded and full with beautiful tarragon punctuating, the aniseed a great match for the strawberry of the wine.
I leave, a little more educated than on arrival, slightly fuzzy and feeling I really could get into this wine tasting thing!
|Invited by PR company?||No|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||Yes|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||No|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|