Claire @ fromthegrapevine
Wines for the weekend - Wines for Halloween
It's that time of year again; the end of British Summer Time, pumpkins in the supermarkets and kids dressing up as skeletons and witches. It's Halloween!
Here's three wines to celebrate with, as I recommended on BBC Wiltshire's "Wines for the Weekend" this week.
Wine One - Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Gewürtztraminer, £9
If you've got a lot of pumpkin flesh to use up, then making a warming spicy pumpkin soup, or a curry, stew or casserole is a great way to keep out the chill. When pairing wine and food, you need to exercise caution, as wine that is too acidic, sweet or tannic, can ruin the taste of the the food - and vice versa.
Pumpkin itself doesn't have that strong a favour, so it is the dominant flavour of whatever you want to pair it with that is key. With spicy foods, the Gewürtztraminer is punchy enough to stand up to the spice, whilst being crisp and refreshing. The overpowering notes of rose petal and turkish delight, with the slightest touch of sweetness, is delightful.
The Alsace region falls in the rain shadow of the Vosges Mountains close to the border of Germany, and specialises in great white wines made with Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürtztraminer. They are easy to find on the supermarket shelves as the bottles are tall and thin - German style - as Alsace has changed hands back and forth between France and Germany through the chronicles of time. The story goes that the elongated shape made them efficient to store, transport and stand out from other bottles in a wine merchants store. You can find quality Gewurtztraminer from other supermarket's superior ranges - they should be around the £8 - £10 mark.
Wine Two - Ghost vines, Californian Zinfandel, Aldi £6.29
Chosen purely for its appropriate Halloween name, Ghost Vines is a Californian Zinfandel from the region of Lodi. Lodi calls itself "The Zinfandel capital of the world" and can be found inland from the coastal areas, so it gets very hot there. The sunshine and heat is needed to ripen the grapes, which are mainly from old vines producing quality fruit.
This gives the wine a lovely full body, packed with rich, ripe soft plum taste, with a touch of vanilla from the American oak it spends time in.
At 14 percent alcohol, it is a bargain at £6.29.
Anyone who has travelled to Southern Italy has probably been served up Zinfandel - Called Primitivo by Italians, it is used for table wine / house wine / jug wine and produced in bulk there. Like Lodi, the hot sunny climate in Southern Italy means there's an abundance of it about. Partly for this reason, Zinfandel has had a negative reputation in the past, not helped either by major producers such as Blossom Hill churning out cheap "white zinfandel" - a sweet tasting rosé that gets over consumed in Bar-b-Que season.
This wine isn't complex; it's bold and fruity and great value. If that's how you like your wine, tuck in - but be quick as Aldi's wines can have quick turnover and limited shelf time.
Wine three - Hungarian Tokaji (Late Harvest) - Lidl, £7.99 (Currently on offer at £6.99)
If the kids have come home from trick or treating, then Mums, Dads, Granny and Gramps need a sweet treat too. The geographical denomination of Tokaji dates back to 1730 and sweet wines are a speciality of the region. Due to the mists and fog in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, the Furmint grapes can become susceptible to "Noble rot", which leads them to become sweet. For the most sugar laden wines, look for the words "Aszü" on the label, as these wines are made from the rotten grapes (sounds a bit unlikely, but trust me, they ooze honey and apricot flavours). Even the Hungarian national anthem refers to "nectar from the grapes of Tokaji".
This gem from Lidl isn't sickly sweet, as the residual sugar comes from leaving the grapes on the vine a month or two longer than a normal harvest, giving them time to lose some water, and concentrate their sugars more. The fermentation process needs to leave plenty of sugar in the wine (rather than waiting for it all to convert into alcohol) so the wine is low in alcohol (10%) and is a pale gold colour, tasting of juicy peach and honey.