As the number of wines available to buy becomes ever more vast, choosing between them becomes increasingly difficult.
Knowing a little more about wine can help enormously, but where do you start?
Checking out the Association of Wine Educators (AWE) could be a very good place.
Members of the association are all qualified at least to Diploma level with the globally recognised Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the writer of this column is a member. Several members are Masters of Wine and all are only accepted after further assessment of teaching and presentation skills. Educators are located all over the country, with some overseas, running tastings, masterclasses and wine courses of all types, for both consumers and professionals.
The AWE members themselves are an awesome bunch, not only highly qualified, but with a wealth of knowledge and experience of wine regions, vineyards, winemakers and the wines they produce. Totally passionate about their subject, they are skilled at transferring their knowledge to others, with a view to helping them increase their enjoyment of drinking wine.
Every year for the past five years, the association has produced a brochure of 100 AWEsome wines, chosen by its members as some of the best value wines on the market. This may only be the tip of the iceberg, but it is a very well authenticated tip, since they are chosen by a group of wine professionals who taste hundreds of wines every year and who are often judges for international competitions.
The brochure is available in printed form from any member of the AWE and is also available online at wineeducators.com/100-awesome-wines.
Wines are chosen above all for their quality and value for money, but also for their accessibility in two categories – under £10 a bottle and under £25. Below are my three entries in the brochure:
Dourthe La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Bordeaux France: Waitrose £9.49. Fresh, crisp and dry from the pioneers of modern Bordeaux wine-making. Herby, grassy with ripe fruit and hints of grapefruit. Aromatic with satisfying depth of flavour.
Champagne de Barfontarc Brut Blanc de Noirs, France: Olivers Beer and Wine £26.50. Tremendous value Champagne from the Cotes des Bars sub-region, this is 100 percent Pinot Noir, showing brioche on the nose from four years ageing and the use of six-year-old reserve wines. Sophistication and depth at an unbelievable price for the quality.
Gonzalez Byass Vina AB Amontillado Seco, Spain: Soho Wine Supply £14.50 and online from masterofmalt.com. A stylish 12-year-old dry sherry. Hints of oak, a salty tang, with underlying dried fruit. Pale amber colour, medium bodied, almonds and hazelnuts with a long, dry finish.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
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