Real Wine, Real Heineken and Real Cocktails

Following a very enjoyable weekend of Leinstertainment in London, last Monday I popped along to two real / natural wine fairs – RAW and The Real Wine Fair.

The fairs showcased wines which have been subjected to minimal intervention in the winemaking process. Some are made according to organic or biodynamic practices, many are unfined or unfiltered and some haven’t had any sulphur added. If the buzz created by the two fairs in London is anything to go by, this wine movement is here to stay. From my perspective, if the quality is lacking, I couldn’t care less whether a winemaker cultivates his/her vines according to a lunar calendar or a Gregorian one or indeed stores his/her wines in cement containers or terracotta amphorae, I’m not going to drink it.

There were a lot of wines to taste and my time was extremely limited – I only got about 90 minutes in the Real Wine Fair before dashing back to Heathrow – so I only got to try a very small subset of the wines on show. As usual, the majority of those I tasted were from Italy. I must admit, my experience was that the highs were high and the lows were, sadly, quite low. That being said, most of wines I tasted were in the ‘high’ category and over the next fortnight I’m going to post about some of those that I found particularly interesting. Both fairs were well organised and I’d definitely like to return next year. The catalogue provided at RAW was particularly handy as it listed the winemaking interventions for each wine – very helpful indeed but would have been even better had it also listed page numbers!

Before we start into the wines, I wanted to share a few other alcohol related musings from London.

When you go to a Heineken Cup Final, your drinking options are limited to…well…Heineken. Mercifully, the Heineken served at Twickenham was the sweeter 5% abv brew as opposed to the 4.6% stuff sold in Ireland. I promise to never blog about mass-produced beers again but on the off-chance that anyone from Heineken might read this, can we please have the 5% beer in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, for the final in 2013.

As far as I can make out the cocktail scene in Ireland is either for students (think €5 drinks where everything is dominated by blue curacao) or hen parties (think €10 drinks where everything has a double entendre name). On the other hand, London has a wealth of top end cocktail bars with imaginative menus to choose from. On my recent visit, a friend and I went to Mark’s bar in the basement of Hix in Soho. Yes, you’ll run up quite a bill if you stay for an evening but you’ll also have a flaming lime in a pewter tanker (see pic) or be pouring your martini from a conical flask. If you’re ever there, try the “Shipshape and Bristol Fashion” – one of the better rum cocktails I’ve ever tasted.

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