In life there are few things more enjoyable than getting together with family and friends and sharing good food, a few drinks and laughter. Indeed, Sundays in my household must involve all three. I work in the restaurant industry and consider myself lucky to observe guestsʼ good times everyday. When it comes to ordering food, oneʼs appetite is leads the way, it is the wine that becomes a sticking point for most. Choosing from a wine list is a tough call for anyone, from an expert to a novice. But it is a shame just to stick to the wines we know, narrowing our palate to just a couple of whites and a couple of reds.
Over the course of my blogs, Iʼd like to suggest to you some alternative wines which my customers have loved. Think of it as if its not just me recommending the wines, but my customers too. If you normally go for Pinot Grigio, this week Iʼd like you to have a look for Picpoul de Pinet. It may not have found its way into your local yet, but it most certainly can be bought from the shops. Below I have reviewed two for you to look for.
Given itʼs popularity, Italian Pinot Grigio has long been the mainstay of our locals and restaurants. A light bodied, dry and fairly neutral wine, at best giving whiffs of lemon, poor Pinot Grigio has succumbed to our demand for cheap, accessible wine (I donʼt wish to demonise the variety as a good one from Trentino-Alto Adige is delicious, with honey, nutty undertones). Those wishing for something more aromatic and acidic will ask for a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but at £8.50 and beyond for one paltry glass, some customers have smartened up and are asking for something in between. Enter Picpoul de Pinet.
Picpoul de Pinet is produced in Languedoc in the glorious South of France and is stirring on the lips of many of our guests and rightly so. Made from the Picpoul grape, the variety is famously high in acidity, earning its name “lip stingerʼ, however the wine it yields is delicate and fresh, giving way to soft stone fruits like peach and apricot with hints of blossom.
In the restaurant, I pair this wine with shellfish. Itʼs crisp acidity pairs beautifully with soft, fleshy, salty morsels from the sea. At home, I pair this wine with a party! Smoked salmon blinis, prawn crostini, charcuterie, crisps, olives, cheese, basically anything that keeps alcohol fueled hunger at bay, Picpoul de Pinet will sip along nicely with party nibbles and your guests will thank you for not playing it safe with Pinot. An assured crowd pleaser, and a tasty one too!
Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet - Tesco £6
In classic Picpoul style, this wine from Tesco is at a great price point for your introduction to the variety. Crisp apple and pink grapefruit come through first, giving way to a softer pear finish.
Ormarine Cuvee de Petits Poisons, £8.99
An interesting one from Majestic here. This wine has all the zingy acidity you want from Picpoul, and certainly some peach and blossom character. Where you read ʻSur Liesʼ on a label, it means the wine has been left in contact with the dead yeast cells after fermentation. The resulting wine has a little more body to it and is typified by a creamy texture in your mouth. In this case, the subtle creaminess is a very nice counter to its acidity. Hint of a peppery finish too.