Ideal Wines to Serve This Winter

Winter is the perfect season to stay in and enjoy wine. Here’s what Ideal Wine Company is reaching for when the temperatures drop.

Ideal wine company winter wines
Here are our ideal wines to serve this winter.

Nebbiolo – pleasant with surprising form and grip

Nebbiolo is a deceiving wine. While its appearance is pale and pleasant, it is often compared to a Pinot Noir, it has many unexpected qualities. With a high acidity and grippy tannins, which give the wine form and grip, you won’t forget this red quickly. Showcasing complex rose, cherry and leather flavours, this complex wine will keep you satisfied. It pairs well with winter squash, mushrooms, truffles and charcuterie, making a perfect accompaniment to plenty of winter foods.

Sangiovese – earthy and rustic

A high-acid and high-tannin Italian wine is a must have for this colder and darker season. A traditional Sangiovese is the perfect wine to enjoy with all kinds of winter foods, including roasted winter vegetables and hard cheeses. Its earthy and rustic notes bring smoky overtones to the glass. As well, its complex nose is perfect for sitting and sniffing as you relax.

Shiraz – rugged and fruity

When it comes to winter, we all enjoy something a bit more hearty and powerful. A Shiraz is the perfect answer to those needs. Described as big and brooding, this red is an ideal warmer. It is known for its powerful black fruit flavours and savoury undertones. It has a high ABV (coming in at around 14-15%) but if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? It’s not for the faint of heart, but is a delicious choice for when it’s cold outside.

Cabernet Sauvignon – an undeniable classic

Cabernet Sauvignon is such a classic, it’s almost seen as a cliché this time of year. This speaks to the popularity of the wine this time of year. Undoubtedly a favourite of many, this wine is a layered and complex option. Pairing well with a seasonal roast and red meat, this fruity red is a staple of the season for good reason. Try an Old World variety for a surprisingly subtle option.

Chardonnay – rich and buttery

An oaked Chardonnay works well with the hearty food of the season. It’s lightness cuts through the richer fare and provides a palate cleanser between bites. This works particularly well with turkey, sea bass and gruyere cheese. Rich and buttery, this full-bodied white has dominant flavours of vanilla, butter and caramel, with a touch of citrus. Reminiscent of other holiday favourites, such as eggnog and hot buttered rum, a Chardonnay will pair wonderfully with your Christmas feast.

Champagne – light and refreshing

To add to a thoroughly festive season, Champagne brings a party atmosphere. It is light and versatile, providing a refreshing quality that is often overlooked. When it comes to winter food, it pairs well with so many favourites, from Christmas ham and bacon to cheeses and nuts. Whether you want to enjoy this at a party or celebrating at home, Champagne provides the perfect uplift to cure any winter blues. Try on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve to properly celebrate the occasions!

With all the wines this time of year, it’s important to find one suited to your needs. A bold red is always a popular winter warmer, while a refreshing white provides a welcome respite from heavy foods and drinks this time of year. With many of us spending more time indoors due to the cold weather, what better way to do it than with a glass of wine?

How to make the perfect Mimosa

In the runup to the summer months, cocktails are coming back in full swing. Some of the most iconic cocktails also have the simplest recipes – easy to follow so you have more time to sit and relax! Ideal Wine Company discovers the trick to making a perfect Mimosa for the upcoming summer months.

Ideal Wine Company mimosa
Making the perfect Mimosa.

A bit of background

A Mimosa is one of the most popular cocktails, with citrus tones it is a refreshing summer drink to enjoy with family or friends! It is traditionally served in a tall champagne flute at brunch, and is composed of equal parts of champagne (or an alternative sparkling wine) and a chilled citrus juice. It was believed to have been invented in 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz Paris by Frank Meier. It is thought to be named after the common name in Europe for the yellow flowers of Acacia Dealbata. Similar to a Mimosa, Buck’s Fizz is a variation made with twice as much champagne to orange juice.

The recipe

If you have the time, using freshly squeezed orange juice will leave a lighter, tarty flavour on your palate. It is more delicate than shop bought orange juice which means it makes your Mimosa more enjoyable and tasty!

A classic Mimosa recipe uses equal parts sparkling wine to orange juice, this is the perfect ratio for this tasty cocktail. However, if you are making Mimosas for a party or large group of friends, using less wine will make sure you get maximum usage whilst saving too. An alternative to save on wine but still get enough of an alcohol to juice ratio, is to add a splash of orange liqueur.

When making a Mimosa, the number one rule is to always pour the sparkling wine first before topping with the orange juice. By doing this it ensures that the cocktail has the chance to mix together on its own, which avoids a sticky mess at the top if the glass! There is no need to stir the cocktail either as this will cause the wine to become flat.

Top tips

A top tip for making a Mimosa is to use a dry sparkling wine rather than a sweet one. Spending around £10 on a sparkling wine is advised for a good quality; as well as this using Cava from Spain is an affordable choice. Alternatively, a dry Prosecco is a great option for a Mimosa if Cava isn’t your drink of choice. Another top tip is not to go too cheap in your choice of sparkling wine, this won’t help your drink have delicious taste it should.

A key tip when making a Mimosa is to never serve it warm, the wine and orange juice should be kept refrigerated until they are ready to be served. After pouring the first round, place back in the fridge to keep them chilled and fresh.

Stocking up

If you fancy spending your weekends making delicious Mimosas ready for the summer months, why not visit the Ideal Wine Company Champagne section. Or alternatively Prosecco from the Burke’s Peerage Selection.

How Champagne Became Associated With Hollywood

The history of cinema is drenched in Champagne, for example silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe supposedly bathed in it. This is why many people regard it as the ultimate luxury drink. Shedding light on this popular perception, we explain how Champagne came to be associated with Hollywood.

Origin story

Recently, London newspaper The Evening Standard traced the beginnings of Champagne’s association with Hollywood to 1928. This is the year that Alfred Hitchcock’s jazz age comedy Champagne was released. The film opens with a close up shot of a glass of Moët & Chandon, introducing viewers to the “millionaire’s lifestyle through the lens of his drink” and sparking a silver screen revolution.

Explaining how ubiquitous Champagne has become across film, since the release of Hitchcock’s comedy, Moët & Chandon’s Head of Heritage, Veronique Foureur, said: “Think of a famous actor or actress… He or she has probably drunk Moët & Chandon in one or more scenes.” From Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Leonardo di Caprio in The Great Gatsby, the brand really has become a silver screen stalwart over the years.

Glam factor

Foureur then outlined the reasons why Hollywood fell in love with Champagne, the first of which is the drink’s “glam factor.” It has long been associated with the royalty of Europe, for example Cristal was developed on the orders of a Russian Tsar. Hollywood is America’s royalty, so it makes sense that we would associate the traditional drink of the elite with the most famous people on earth.

But, she argued, Champagne may have started off as the drink of kings, but Hollywood has turned it into the ultimate symbol of social mobility. In The Seven Year Itch, for instance, Marilyn Monroe quaffs Champagne while eating crisps (which is actually palatable). Scenes like this made Champagne into an attainable luxury, as they show that it’s something average viewers could enjoy in their everyday lives.

Industry lubricant

Foureur also argued that Champagne is also the lubricant that keeps Hollywood turning, strengthening the association between the two. Moët & Chandon, she added, has been quaffed by attendees of the prestigious Cannes film festival since the 1950s. It has since become popular at movie showcases held in cities like London and Venice as well, ensuring that its popularity endures into the 21st Century.

Today, The Evening Standard argued, you are just as likely to see Champagne on the silver screen, as you were during the golden age of Hollywood. The drink flows heavily through Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Meanwhile the iconic spy James Bond continues to be associated with Dom Perignon, a brand whose products are featured on Ideal Wine Company’s Champagnes List.

Success symbol

It’s clear, therefore, that Champagne came to be associated with Hollywood, because it’s the ultimate symbol of success. A-listers started consuming this signature French drink because of its historic links to European royalty and in turn, this popularised the concept of Champagne as a luxury item among the general public. The next time you host a celebration, consider ordering a bottle of Champagne, so you can raise a toast and turn the event into a true occasion, worthy of Hollywood itself!

Opinions Are Divided On Quality Of 2016 Champagne

Representatives from two of the world’s top Champagne houses recently expressed differing opinions, concerning the quality of the 2016 vintage. Ideal Wine Company reports.

Background info

The grapes used in Champagne production are grown in the eponymous French region. Consequently, these products are influenced by the Champagne area’s terroir, which encompasses everything from soil to weather. So depending on weather conditions, some years’ vintages are better than others.

Regions across France experienced adverse – sometimes even bizarre, weather conditions this year, impacting its grape harvest. For examples, heavy frosts hit Burgundy in the spring, with projections showing that they damaged 46% of the region’s vineyards by over 30%. The Champagne region did not escape these adverse weather patterns, so have they damaged grape production and quality?

Unexpected quality

Assessing opinion, The Drinks Business found it to be divided. Commenting, AR Lenoble’s co-owner, Anne Malassagne, said: “It’s too early to decide if 2016 will be a vintage year but the quality of the grapes we picked was unexpected. We were very worried in the middle of August but we enjoyed three weeks of sunny days and cool nights that helped to keep the acidity levels high enough. We had perfect conditions in September apart from a few days of rain, which didn’t cause any damage.

Going on, she said: “We started picking our Pinot Noir and Meunier on 15th September then had to stop for a few days to wait for the Chardonnay to get ripe enough. Some of the Chardonnay was a bit too sweet so we blocked malolactic fermentation this year. The South of Champagne was hit hard by April frosts and some estates lost almost all of their crop to hail in villages like Urville. Our crop is down by about 20% on 2015 but we’re very happy with the quality of the grapes we picked.”

Nightmare harvest

However Regis Camus, the Chef De Cave of Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck, expressed a contrasting opinion. Explaining his position further, the Chef De Cave said: “The 2016 vintage was a nightmare. We had snow in April and very low temperatures in the vineyards. Nearly all of the vines in the Côte des Bar were killed by frost – production in Champagne is down by 15%. We had lots of rain in May, June and July, which led to an explosion of mildew like I’ve never seen before.”

“Thankfully the August heat stopped the march of the mildew. The grapes were tiny though and were drying out on the spot. Our harvest was down by 33%. Pinot Noir and Meunier ripened faster than Chardonnay, which is unusual. In fact, our Chardonnay ripened at the right time but our Pinot ripened early. It will be an interesting challenge trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make our Cuvée Brut from the 2016 vintage. We will have to rely more heavily on reserve wines and will use at least 20% in the blend,” potentially damaging this products renowned quality.

Try Champagne

The only way we’re going to be able to assess the quality of the 2016 vintage, therefore, is by actually sampling these Champagnes. If you want something to measure them against, you could buy top Champagnes from Ideal Wine Company. Visit the Champagnes list on our official website and you’ll find bottles from prestigious brands like Dom Perignon, Salon and Krug, providing you with true luxury!

Image by Simon Law.

Sparkling Wine Sales To Rise Over Christmas

It’s traditional to raise a glass of Champagne over Christmas and New Year. New evidence shows that consequently, British sparkling wine sales are set to rise dramatically over the Christmas season.

National love

‘Sparkling wine’ is the name given to any type of carbonated wine. However there are various types of sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Prosecco and Cava. The differences between sparkling wines concern their production methods, which are governed by legal guidelines. Champagnes, for example, see carbonisation take place within the bottle, while for prosecco, this happens in steel tanks.

We Brits have a fondness for sparkling wine, especially Champagne. The UK is the Champagne industry’s biggest export market. Our Champagne market expanded at three times the rate of the global sector as a whole last year. But Prosecco is also becoming increasingly popular, due to its sweeter taste and lower price, showing just how large the appetite for sparkling wine is in this country.

Christmas tipple

Many people love sparkling wines, because they have long-been viewed as the ultimate luxury tipples. Historically these wines, especially Champagne, were reserved for rich aristocrats while in the modern era, they have been associated with Hollywood, so when we drink Champagne, we feel like stars. A lot of people quaff Champagne at Christmas, when they want to treat themselves to a luxury item.

This means that we weren’t surprised when we learned that sparkling wine sales are expected to increase by around 500% on the Friday before Christmas, according to Sainsbury’s. In a new report, the supermarket chain dubbed this occasion ‘Fizz Friday,’ citing it as the biggest day of the year for sparkling wine sales. In contrast on a ‘normal’ Friday, roughly 500,000 bottles are sold on average.

Stiff competition

Sainsbury’s research also sheds light on Christmas demand for the different types of sparkling wine, according to The Drinks Business, an industry publication. Consumers are more likely to plan ahead to buy Champagne, the supermarket found. On average, consumers search for Champagne online up to three weeks in advance, a week earlier than they do for Proseccos and other sparkling wines.

But the most widely-searched alcoholic item on the Sainsbury’s website is Prosecco. Consumers are projected to spend £9m on the Italian product before Christmas. The supermarket also discovered that 57% of Prosecco sales happen at Christmas, while that number was 28% for other sparkling wines and 15% for Champagnes. Meanwhile, 35% of those polled said they were more likely to buy sparkling wine at Christmas, with 14% admitting that they are more likely to give Champagne as a gift.

Buy Champagne

It’s clear that wine enthusiasts across the country will raise a glass of sparkling wine this Christmas, to ring in this beloved national holiday. If you want to join them, why don’t you buy a premium product from Ideal Wine Company? Just visit our website and browse our Champagnes list, where you can find iconic brands like Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon, securing the perfect bottle for the holidays!