How the European wine industry is working towards its sustainability goals

Climate change is affecting every industry around the world, as we collectively work out ways to combat the worst effects. For the wine industry, the escalation of the effects of climate change have had a direct effect on the product. From unstable weather patterns throughout Europe to new wine regions springing up in the UK thanks to hotter temperatures, there’s no doubt that environmental factors are key for the world’s wine industry.

European wine industry joins movement to increase glass recycling

To further the goal of reducing emissions and waste, the Comité Européen des Enterprises Vins (CEEV) recently announced it has opted to join other European bodies that have the aim of increasing glass recycling to 90% by 2030.

The group of European organisations was set up by the European glass packaging federation (FEVE) and is called the Circular Economy Platform for Glass Collection & Recycling. Other members of the group include Municipal Waste Europe (MWE), Spirits Europe, the European Federation of Glass Recyclers (FERVER) and UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe.

All group members collaborate to achieve its overall goal of achieving a 90% bottle-to-bottle closed loop of glass bottle recycling by the end of the next decade. Currently, the glass packaging recycling rate across Europe is at 76%.

Sustainability is a key priority for global wine industry

And, despite the challenges the industry faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEEV is clear that recycling and the promotion of a circular economy “remains a key priority for the wine sector.”

As most (more than 90%) of the wine made in Europe is packaged in glass bottles, there is a specific focus on the wine industry’s sustainability goals. Ignacio Sanchez Recarte is the secretary general of the CEEV. He says that by contributing to the wider goal of improving the glass packaging chain’s sustainability score, the wine industry’s score is also automatically improved. He goes on to say: “While there are so many kinds of wines… glass is one of the few common and universal values we can use to transmit to our consumers our sector’s engagement to preserve the planet.”

There are, of course, a number of alternative packaging options for wine producers, ranging from boxes and cans to tubes and kegs. However, consumer platform Friends of Glass conducted a survey that shows 80% of European consumers still want to buy wine in glass bottles. Furthermore, consumer spending on glass packaged products has risen by 51% since 2017.

Working together to achieve common goals

The wine sector is one of the glass packaging industry’s leading market segments, and it is growing every year. For this reason, says Adeline Farrelly, FEVE secretary general it’s vital that collaborations like this go ahead so that both industries can support each other’s sustainability efforts. She says: “The Close the Glass Loop platform is one way to achieve our shared goals. The more recycled glass that goes back into our production loop, the lower the negative environmental impact of the bottles.”

Another part of the Close the Glass Loop initiative includes improving the quality of the recycled glass they produce. This will ensure a greater amount of recycled glass goes into the newly formed production loop. For example, at the moment 76% of glass is collected for recycling, but just 52% actually makes it back into the production loop.

Perfect wine picks to go with store cupboard meals during lockdown

Most of us are shopping far less than usual due to the coronavirus outbreak. Which can mean making meals from store cupboard ingredients rather than fresh produce. While this could make mealtimes less exciting than normal, the good news is it’s simple to pair wines with store cupboard meals and get more flavour from your dinner.

Classics like baked beans on toast, simple pasta and pesto or tomato sauce can be refined with a good glass of wine. And while many of the things we like to do are off limits for the time being, what could be better than taking the time to enjoy a well-matched wine with your meal.

Perfect wine picks to go with simple store cupboard meals

We’ve done wine pairing articles before, but mostly focusing on dinner party food. Here we’ve picked some wines to go with simple meals you can rustle up from ingredients in your store cupboard.

  1. Baked beans on toast

Pair this family favourite with red wines hailing from warm climates. Baked beans have long been a favourite in the UK, thanks to their combination of a reduction of vinegar and sugar to form the sauce. Reds with plenty of fruit from warm wine regions go really well with baked beans. For example, you could choose an Australian shiraz or a merlot from Chile. A great choice of the latter is Lorosco Reserva Maipo merlot 2017. It has an intensely enjoyable flavour with fruity aromas of plum and blackberry combining with hints of toast and vanilla. The soft tannins in this wine make it the perfect pairing with the comforting flavours of beans on toast.

  1. Instant noodles – chicken and mushroom flavour

We’ve all got a Pot Noodle or two hiding in the cupboard, or ideally one of the more refined versions. And while it can be difficult to match wines with broth or soup, the chicken and mushroom flavours are easier to match. Try your noodles with a Chardonnay with a lightly oaked finish, such as La Reverence 2018. Its golden straw colour combines with summery fruit flavours of melon and peach, all perfectly balanced with a crisp finish. It’s made from a combination of grapes: Minervois and Roussillon, and this is what gives it the fresh, minerally flavour profile. It goes very well with meaty and vegetable flavours.

  1. Tuna pasta in a tomato sauce

Another meal easy to whip up in minutes from store cupboard ingredients, this dish calls out for lightly tannined red wines. Beaujolais is an ideal match with all kinds of oily fish, including tuna, and as it’s a medium bodied wine it goes well with the rich sweetness of a tomato sauce. Try Oedoria Beaujolais Rouge 2017, which has an intense colour, fruity aromas and pleasantly smooth tannins.

  1. Pasta and pesto

When you want a bit more oomph to your pasta, pesto is always a good bet. It’s a simple but tasty dish thanks to the pesto’s ingredients of oil, herbs and cheese, and it needs a wine that’s also simple but delicious. Match it with something like Eschehof Holzer, Wagran, Gruner Veltliner 2018 from Austria, for its uncomplicated fruit and acidity balance. Expect hints of pepper, apple and peach in this organic white wine.

  1. Instant ramen

Turn to a Japanese vibe for your store cupboard meal with a spiced up instant ramen for dinner. And if you don’t have any Sake to go with it, you could choose a white wine packed with body to complement the broth and noodle dish. Tatsuuma-Honke Brewery, Isake Classic Junmai Ginjo is a wine resulting from a fascinating partnership between a Japanese expert in sake and a French sommelier. It has a distinctive and unique lend of melon, walnut, peach and Sake rices, with a long, refreshing finish.

 

Stock up on delicious wines for Easter

With less than a month until Easter, it’s time to stock your wine cellar. Whether you’re seeking a sweet white wine to go with your chocolate eggs or searching for the ideal wine to go with the lamb on Easter Sunday, at Ideal Wine Company, we have plenty of suggestions for you to stock wines for Easter.

Preparing for Easter is usually more relaxed than the Christmas season. And the rules on wine and food are more relaxed. No-one expects the vast array of booze at a dinner party on Easter Sunday that they would for Christmas dinner. But it’s just as well to be prepared for your Easter meals.

Wines perfect for Easter feasts

Lamb is a popular meal choice for families in the UK at Easter. And it goes very well with a number of delicious Mediterranean wines or wines from across Southern Europe.

And it doesn’t have to be traditional roast lamb either. Try chuletitas de cordero, which are barbecued lamb chops, which end up as melt in the mouth and delicious with rioja. Or go for a Greek lamb dish for a change. Try garlic shoulder of lamb slow roasted with herbs and spices. To go with it, try a Greek red wine called xinomavro, which is very dark and fruity, but also full of the tannin flavours needed to cut through the rich meat.

Try these wines for Easter 2020:

  1. Gran Reserva Rioja CVNE – a delicious rioja packed with tender textures and a savoury edge. It goes well with lamb but works fine with roast pork or beef too. So, whatever you choose for you main dish at Easter, this wine will complement the meat.
  2. Lyrarakis Voila Assytriko – this wine is from Crete and is very popular with the traditional Greek Easter feast of magiritsa. This soup is made from kid or lamb offal and is traditionally seasoned with dill and lemon. This dry white wine goes brilliantly with the traditional Greek food, thanks to its citrus flavours and bright and mineral finish.
  3. Crociani Vin Santi di Montepulciano – a traditional Tuscan wine made from malvasia grapes. The process of drying the grapes on straw mats gives this wine a sweet and rich texture with flavours of demerara sugar sand dried fruits. Works perfectly with cheese, chocolate and cake, so ideal for dessert.
  4. Niepoort Ruby Dum Port – packed with sweet, bright fruit flavours this portis rich with plums and cherries. It also has a very silky and smooth texture and goes particularly well with dark chocolate – a drink for the sophisticated Easter eggs!
  5. Mastro Bianco – this blended wine takes the flavours from three grapes local to the Campania region of Italy. The end result is a deep dry white with hints of green olive and almonds among peach fruit with plenty of minerally freshness. It would be ideal with a seafood dish for Good Friday.
  6. Domaine de Montvac Arabesque Vacqueyras – this French red wine is a favourite for the traditional roast lamb Easter meal. Make a Mediterranean version with lots of rosemary and garlic and enjoy this succulent and balanced red wine. It also goes well with aubergine dishes, so is a good choice for a vegetarian or vegan Easter meal too.

Of course, this is just the tip of the wine iceberg. For more ideas on wines to enjoy at Easter and all year round, check out our earlier blogs.

Five industry insider secrets to clever wine and food pairing

 

Pairing food and wine can seem like a hidden art. If you’re new to wine pairing and want to make a dinner party extra special, it can seem overwhelming to match each flavour with the right accompaniment. And that’s when something that should be fun becomes a chore.

Matching wine and food together is meant to be enjoyable, not stressful. And while it is a skill, it doesn’t have to be over complicated. The first thing to realise is that there aren’t really any hard and fast rules. It’s more about an intuitive understanding of how flavours work together, and which complement each other.

In fact, you may find yourself breaking traditional ‘rules’ as you go through your wine pairing journey. To help you on your way, here are five insider tips to classic wine and food pairing.

 

1. Wine and food pairing – where to start

Start with weight. In the winter, we eat heavier, richer food and in the summer lighter, more delicate dishes. Apply the same thinking to the wine you’re choosing. Some grapes lend themselves to richer, heavier wines, and others produce light, airy wines.

This is a great shortcut to pairing wine and food, particularly if you’re not familiar with a wine’s flavour profile. A Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied white wine with high acidity, and as such works brilliantly with fresh oysters and rich cheeses. However, it doesn’t do as well if it’s paired with a chicken pasta dish, for example. If you’re pairing a white wine with a heavier dish, then go for a heavier wine, like Viognier.

A good rule of thumb for a dinner party is to start with the lighter wines and work your way to the heaviest. But you do need to allow your palate time to rest before switching from delicate wines with nuanced flavour notes to big, bold reds.

 

2. Don’t be taken in by stereotyping

Understand the subtleties of well-known wines. There are many stereotypes surrounding commonly enjoyed wines. For example, you’ve probably heard that Riesling is too sweet to go with many food dishes. Or that Chardonnay is too oaky and buttery. On the face of it, neither of these sound like a good match with food.

However, there is plenty of potential in both of these wines. Not every Riesling is super sweet. Choose a dry Riesling from Germany or the Alsace region of France, for example. These wines are made from grapes grown on old vines, and combined with refined winemaking techniques produce aromatic, bright and beautiful wines that go beautifully with food. They’re particularly good for spicy dishes.

And a Chardonnay from a cooler climate won’t be too oaky. Try an unoaked version from Chablis, and you’ll find dry, lean bottles with a minerally finish. Delicious with all kinds of dishes.

 

3. Don’t run away from sweetness

Wine experts and culinary experts know that slightly sweeter off-dry wines work really well with spicy or rich food. Pinot Grigio has some sweet and florally notes, which pair well with a meal full of salt, fat and richness. For example, a slated fish dish or buttery poached egg works really well with this full-bodied white wine. And for Asian food, a must-try is an off-dry Riesling, which absorbs all the heat from the spices.

 

4. It’s not just about the ingredients

You might think that matching wine to food depends entirely on the ingredients used in the dish. But how the meal is prepared is just as important. For example, a piece of chicken is going to taste very different depending on whether it’s pan seared, grilled, smoked or roasted. And the resulting wine pairings also change.

A classic wine pairing to go with roast chicken is Pinot Noir from Burgundy. It’s a lighter, but still earthy, red wine and is less fruity than the same wine from the New World. Too much fruit can overpower the dish. For spicier chicken dishes, choose a richer wine. Something like a Grenache or Zinfandel goes well with barbecue chicken, for example. You’re looking for juicy, lush notes.

 

5. Create your menu around the wine

Most people plan a dinner party menu by starting with the food and adding the wine on afterwards. But what if you did it the other way around? It’s a good way to get out of your comfort zone and explore some wines you’ve been wanting to try. Start with what you enjoy drinking. This gives you more freedom in your approach to selecting wine. What are you in the mood for? What have you always wanted to try? Start there and match your food accordingly.

Abover all, remember that there are no strict rules about matching wine and food. And while complementary flavours can be satisfactory, it’s also true that completely contrasting notes can work well too. A wine can either echo or reflect the flavour of the dishes, so if you want to go for a contrasting choice then don’t be afraid to do so.

Try these four undervalued but delicious white wines

 

White wine can sometimes feel like the underdog in the wine world. There is always a lot of love out there for red wines, and in the world of fine wine, it’s reds that tend to attract more prestige and higher prices.

 

But white wine is just as complex to produce, and results in just as spectacular end products. Whatever the reason behind the slightly lesser reputation that white wine holds, it’s excellent news for wine lovers. This is because it means there are plenty of fabulous and very collectible white wines around at reasonable prices.

 

And while Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay will always be popular, we decided to showcase some less well-known white wine varieties. All delicious, and all deserving of high praise, these undervalued yet opulent white wines are definitely worth adding to your cellar. In this blog we’ll be looking at Viognier from Oregon, US, Semillon from the Hunter Valley, Australia, Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France and Dry Furmint from Hungary.

 

White wines to try from Oregon

 

Oregon is now home to the Viognier white grape. Originally from the Rhone Valley in France, the grape has taken hold in the Pacific Northwest over the last few years. Despite being a tricky grape to grow and make into delicious wine, it is contributing to some great white wines from this region.

 

Maryhill Winery produced almost 8,300 cases for its 2016 vintage in a bid to become the biggest producer. Owner Greg Lethold said at the time: “It’s our second-largest production wine, and demand has grown 38% over the last year.” Much of the grapes they use comes from the vineyards surrounding their winery, and the winemakers have been winning awards for their Viognier for around ten years.

 

Using French oak production techniques, their Maryhill Winery 2016 Viognier maintains its ripe fruity characteristics, with a delicate sweetness. Expect flavour notes of honeysuckle, orange and apricot with a pleasing balance between sweetness and acidity. The 2016 vintage was awarded the gold medal in the Washington State Wine Competition and is definitely worth trying. It goes particularly well with a creamy, rich pasta dish.

 

While Oregon was previously mostly well known for its Pinot Noir, it is one of the most interesting hotspots for chilled white wines. Other great varieties include Arneis and Melon de Bourgogne.

White wines to try from the Tokaji region in Hungary

The Tokaj wine region in Hungary is known for its sweet white wines. It was the very first region to be officially classified as a wine region back in 1730. In 1757 it was formally recognised and officiated by noble decree. Tokaji wines are noted for their sweetness, due to the grapes being affected by ‘noble rot’.

 

There are six grapes approved for wine making in Tokaj: Furmint, Harslevelu, Yellow Muscat, Zeta (once called Oremus), Koverszolo and Kabar. Furmint accounts for almost two-thrids of wine produced in the area and is the most important grape, followed by Harslevelu.

 

Tokaji wine is traditionally made from grapes grown on a very small plateau around 1,500 feet above sea level close to the Carpathian Mountains. Its soil has high levels or lime and iron, and the region benefits from sheltered winters and hot summers. Furmint grapes have thick skins which become thinner as they age, allowing the sun to evaporate a lot of the liquid. This results in high sugar levels, and long ripening times. The grapes are left on the vine long enough to develop ‘noble rot’, which is a certain type of mould.

 

Today, the Tokaji region produces lots of delicious sweet wines, but is also producing more dry versions too. Wines such as Kikelet Dry Tokaji offer a really delicious and decadent feeling alternative to the sweet versions. It’s more delicate than the sweet Toakji wines, and is packed with citrus flavours, including fresh green apple, lemon and lime.

 

Why Hunter Valley Sémillon is a white wine worth trying

The very first vineyards ever planted in Australia were in the Hunter Valley. And Semillon was first made in 1831 with grapes brought over from its native France. It’s a real underdog of a grape but comes into its own in Hunter Valley dry and sweet white wines.

 

In its early days it was often mislabelled as Hunter River Hick or Chablis, which didn’t help to establish its name as a great grape in its own right. But it’s always been popular with winemakers in Australia, as it’s relatively easy to grow in this humid climate. Hunter Semillon’s delicious flavours and aging capacity is down to great winemaking. The grapes are picked at low levels of alcohol (about 10%), and delicately handled, before being fermented at low temperatures.

 

When it’s initially bottled, Hunter Semillon is very light and delicate, with notes of grass, citrus and straw. But in just five years it transforms into a toasty, rich, honeyed, nutty wine. It’s also one of the lowest alcohol white wines on the market with such a complex and fabulous flavour profile.

 

Try white wines from the Alsace region of France

Alsace white wines are hugely influenced by the German traditions of winemaking. There are 12 different white wine grapes grown in the region, and 13 whites hailing from there. And while Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are well known, there are other more obscure white wines worth trying.

 

Muscat is a deliciously refreshing Alsatian white wine, with a fruity, dry finish. It’s an accessible white that most people will love, but it also feels rich and a bit special. It often has a floral aroma, with fruity flavours and a hint of sweetness. Alsace is home to a number of varieties of Muscat grape, and different blends produce different styles of white.