The saving grace of a baguette and a glass of red

Alex Duckett, Gilbanks

I will start with a caveat that I am a hobby wine drinker and speak with no authority. The following is purely from personal experience and various levels of hangover!

My journey with wine really began as a late teenager when I had the chance with a half-French friend of mine to work the champagne grape harvest, or vendange as it is known in French.

Stunning late summer days in the vines sipping fizz it certainly was not, actually resulting in extremely hard work often in pouring rain for just under two weeks. The only saving grace, although it may not sound like it, was a baguette with pate and gherkins with a glass of red wine at 8am. The day somehow got better from there.

Moving forward over almost 20 years, my next wine catalyst came during lockdown when my wife, Clementine and I did even more cooking and started to explore how to understand wine pairing.

This tied in nicely with our love of eating game and speaking at length with an old school friend and owner of Barrique Fine Wines, Edd Simpson. He recommended a wine not too far from Beirut in Lebanon called Chateau Musar by Gaston Hochar.

In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely enamoured and slightly embarrassingly now, I overlooked most wines unless from better known countries such as France and Italy. I would recommend reading the reviews of more experienced wine drinkers than me, but Musar is now a firm favourite in our house and pairs superbly with meat but especially strong game.  The vintages are all of a similar high quality but 2015 is my favourite, and it is worth noting the corks in older vintages are very poor.

There are many great wine quotes, but I will leave you with one of my favourites from the late Lily Bollinger and although about champagne, I feel it applies to all wine:

“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it―unless I’m thirsty.”


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