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All of the people who are involved in the wonderful world of wine are constantly debating which is the best way to magnify the perception and enjoyment of the wine they are drinking. As a matter of fact, there are no strict rules pertaining to this, except, maybe, the right temperature. At this point, I would like to note that there is no single, absolute, correct temperature. But, even if that were the case, it would be impossible to achieve, as this would require constant tapering by somebody adding or removing ice from the ice bucket accordingly. Therefore, when talking to wine lovers, instead of stipulating a temperature range of 10 to 12o C, I prefer to use words such as cold (refrigerator temperature), cool (about a quarter of an hour after it has been taken out of the refrigerator) and at winter room temperature.
Let's go back to the pleasure of wine; one can enjoy wine alone or with company (the latter is ideal, although the former may also happen), with food or as an aperitif (with the former being the best scenario) or try something that is a little different. Put two glasses in front of you, instead of one. I think I just heard a voice saying: ''Yannis, are you trying to destroy us?'' On the contrary, I would say. The rationale is very simple and its application is quite easy, especially at weekends when more than two people are usually gathered around the dinner or lunch table. The same can apply for only two persons, provided they do not consume all of the available wine.
What follows requires a bit of your attention. You have decided to try a few different wines. Instead of opening the bottles you have chosen gradually, one after the other, try opening the bottles in pairs. In this way, firstly you have the opportunity to experiment with the tastes and aromas of the wines, secondly you can evaluate the pairing of flavours, thus understanding which wine you prefer with your food, and thirdly, you can understand the relation between the two wines. If, for example, you have an Assyrtiko from Santorini, and the same variety (Assyrtiko), but from, let’s say, Macedonia to accompany oven baked fish or chicken, you can compare the aromas and the basic structural elements of the two wines (body, concentration and acidity). In this way, you will acquire a better understanding of the particular variety and you might also decide which of the two paired better with the particular meal.
It has been proven that a better understanding of wine facilitates greater enjoyment, giving one a more complete experience. The reason behind this is that the consumer is intrigued by the history of the wine and its characteristics; these he will share in turn, at the table, with his company, and so continue the very nice experience.
Therefore choose one or more of your favorite dishes and try them X2.
As a general guideline pair:
Stainless steel vs Oaked fermented Vidiano
With a “killer” quality-price relationship, Idaia Vidiano offers us a classic expression of the up and coming Vidiano variety, that has everything in abundance. Look for apricot and nectarine aromas, a moderate to full body, with a rich but balanced mouth-feel.
Vidiano from a single vineyard that ferments and matures in oak barrels, acquiring more structure and complexity. Look for aromas of nuts, such as hazelnut, with hints of toasted bread, and a peach and apricot fruity character in the mid palate. The palate has tension, power and great freshness.
Robola from the island of Cephalonia and Assyrtiko with a twist from Central Greece
The hidden card of the Cooperative is called San Gerassimo with grapes that come from vineyards set at 850 meters altitude. Look for thickness and freshness that coexist with lemon jam flavors, honey notes and ripe apple.
An Assyrtiko from Peloponnese that ferments in the presence of Muscat skins providing the wine with an interesting floral dimension. Look for Muscat aromas - mostly roses - along with quite an intense fruity character. On the palate it combines acidity and tannins in a powerful combination that I could see paired with a beautifully cooked lamb.
Cyprus in your glass with Xynisteri and Promara
Xynisteri is the ace of spades of the Cypriot vineyard and with a Platinum Decanter Award in its hands it reaches your glass at a fantastic price. The terroir is just amazing; it goes up to 1150 meters in altitude. The vines are 70 yrs old. Look for minerals such as wet stone character, citrus and grapefruit, along with a few lemon notes. On the palate you have extraordinary balance combined with minerality and floral elements. Some experienced wine lovers may even discover red fruit flavors.
If Xynisteri is currently the most distinctive variety in Cyprus, Promara is definitely a candidate for much excitement in the not too distant future. Burgundian approach in winemaking, which uses oak just enough, so as to give the wine a mild nutty character and more aromatic depth. Look for aromas of roasted hazelnuts nuts, as well as aromas of herbs and fruits, such as sage and peach. Full on the palate, but also elegant with lemon notes.
Rosé Moschofilero with Rosé Agiorgitiko
A rosé version of Moschofilero, a variety which has been mainly associated with white wines. Nevertheless, it is a pink-skinned variety, so, with a little more extraction, we can get a wine that is more multi-faceted than the norm. Look for red fruit aromas, besides the aromas of roses and white fruit. It has an explosive mouth-feel with sharp acidity and an elegant finish.
Agiorgitiko from Nemea Asprokambos. A classic region of tremendous capacity for the production of rosé wines. The high altitude rising up to 850 m adds freshness, refinement and energy to the palate of this excellent value for money rosé. Look for strawberry and sweet cherry aromas. On the palate it is greener and more mineral, with accented acidity, combined with red fruits and spices, such as pepper.
Nemea vs Paggaio
One of the best Nemea wines to be found is Mitravela’s Nemea, which is a classic expression of the variety with a fine oak integration that retains the wonderful primary fruit of the variety, Agiorgitiko. Look for cherry and strawberry aromas along with some notes of chocolate and leather. Juicyon the palate with sweet fruit, balanced acidity and a persistent finish. Pair it with a stew.
The Agiorgitiko that could be mistaken as coming from Nemea but is actually from the Paggaio Mountain in Macedonia. An excellent job from the Biblia Chora winery that outruns many Nemea wines and is evidence that diligence in the vineyard can give the variety a future in other terroirs, apart from its traditional home. Look for more black fruit aromas compared to Mitravela’s Nemea, less weight on the palate and probably more finesse. Lively on the palate, with a touch of black pepper and excellent quality tannins.