Wine not wineAnswer: When it’s a ‘wine based drink’!

Reading back labels might well be a boring pastime, and you might consider it to be the reserve of the so called ‘wine anoraks’, but actually they might well discover something that you don’t….. The small print could indicate that the ‘wine’ that you think you are enjoying might not be wine at all, but rather a ‘wine based drink’ containing only 75% of real wine.

The make-up of the other 25% is not quite clear, as legally, ‘wine’makers are not obliged to specify, but speculation is that it could be water, grape must, or a combination of water and sugar. Whatever, the unknown constituent, the wines have been described as “ lacking genuine character, dilute, unpleasant, contrived and manufactured”….. they sound delicious!

Having said that, the problem is not so much the flavour (as consumers will inevitably vote with their taste buds), but more the fact that they are being sold alongside real wines, with no obvious distinction between the two. Of course this is not only highly misleading, but could potentially damage the integrity of our industry.

Posted in Retail, Winemaking

steak & wineAnyone who has read my posts over recent months and years will know that included in my ‘soapbox’ issues are the conflicting reports that we read on a regular basis, concerning what is and isn’t good for you. The experts abound, each one claiming to make some startling new discovery, that contradicts everything we have been told before about what we should eat or drink to stay healthy.

There have been various claims and counter claims relating to wine, admittedly mostly relating to red wine. Some of the alleged health benefits include protecting the body from heart and neurodegenerative diseases, cancer prevention, and even a control for obesity. Without getting too technical the benefits are attributed to different compounds found in the tannins and phenols – these are the very same compounds that contribute to the colour and flavour of a red wine.

A new study in the British Medical Journal completely contradicts many of the popular beliefs about food and drink, the most dramatic of which is that saturated fats are actually good for your heart, and that the real killers are carbohydrates. The study is extensive, and will certainly leave you more confused than ever before about healthy eating – probably the best summary of the report can be found using this link.

Oysters & Albariño

February 14th, 2015

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Valentines testI often write about the conflicting/contradictory ideas that we are given about the rights and wrongs of consuming different types of food and alcohol. (I recently mentioned a claim that drinking a bottle of wine a day won’t do you any harm). So what about aphrodisiacs? Today being St Valentines, I thought I might find at least one excuse to mention albariño, and I think I’ve found at least one…. oysters.

Whilst it’s true that certain compounds attributed to sexual arousal do exist in some foods, the problem is that, generally speaking, the concentrations are so low that it’s unlikely that they would ever reach the brain, where the stimulation takes place.

However, it is widely accepted that oysters have at least some aphrodisiac qualities (albeit I am not exactly sure how many you would have to eat), but the one thing that I can tell you, hand on heart, is that they really do make the perfect pairing to a refreshing, chilled glass of albariño. (Possibly one of the best matches that there is). So tonight, if your menu includes a plate of fresh oysters, then there truly is only one wine that you can drink…. Castro Martin albariño!

Posted in Food & Wine

Cocido in LalinGroundhog day was actually two days ago, when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six weeks more of winter, but that’s another story. Most of us remember Groundhog Day because of the well-known Bill Murray film, finding himself trapped, living the same day over and over again. Today’s subject is not exactly a daily recurrence, but actually an annual event that I have written about at least once before….. the Cocido Festival!

Cocido is a type of local stew or casserole made by cooking various types of meat and vegetables in stock – in many ways similar to the French ‘Pot au Feu’ (except using different meats). Usually a traditional Galician cocido would be made from a selection of salt pork cuts, including the head, ears or tail, together with pieces of cock or chicken. Chorizo and pork belly or bacon, are also added. The selection of vegetables includes potato (a food staple of the Galician diet), grelos, which are actually the leaves of turnips (although cabbage can be used as an alternative to this), and finally garbanzos, or chickpeas to you and me.

OK, so it’s not for me to judge whether Cocido is good or bad, as with everything, it’s all a matter of personal taste. As always, my only problem is with the publicity shot that they have used to advertise the Festival (todays’ photo). For the undecided, or uninitiated I don’t believe that you would be particularly attracted to Cocido by the picture that they have chosen….. but then that’s just my own point of view.

Posted in Fiestas, Food & Wine

drunkThis Superbowl weekend many of us will settle down in front of the TV, beer in hand, to watch the big game. (Even I am prepared to admit that there won’t be too many drinking albariño on this particular occasion). Of course we always recommend that any drinking should be in moderation, because there is always the danger that you could end up pot-shotten!

Splifficated? Pot-shotten? Sounds like I’ve had a drop too many myself….. In fact these are old English words for drunk, and believe me there are many more, and will continue to be more with every year that passes. From a list of nearly 200 words one of my personal favourites is pixilated, which is not as you might imagine, a new expression – this description actually dates back to 1848. Some of my others from the list include, tap-shackled, reeling ripe, peloothered and drunk as a wheelbarrow! Click on today’s picture to enlarge, and see the list.

Shiba SommelierIt’s not often that you come across a canine sommelier, and before you ask, no, I’m not taking any substances! This week we have our first tasting note from a Japanese Shiba Inu who lives in New York (with his wine-loving human companions). Shiba was kind enough to rate our A2O albariño as 4 bones out of 5 and commented: “Hehe, I need some food with this Albariño! Nice, gentle nose of pears, lemon, and white stone. Tiniest touch of salinity on the palate with lovely white pear, lemon, and stone notes. Nice acidity. Not the saltiest of Albariños but would pair excellently with some gambas! 

For more extraordinary dog ‘tails’, please visit Shiba’s very own website!

Posted in Press, Unbelievable

CyberFor the last couple of days I’ve been having my own personal cyber-crisis. For no apparent reason my laptop decided to throw a fit, and to stop loading programmes (‘programme not responding’). Of course the immediate reaction is to retrace all recent keystrokes (and any updates) to see if you’ve done something wrong. Unfortunately I found nothing obvious, and a system scan for corrupted files revealed nothing either (and only succeeded in wasting the best part of a day to carry out).

Consequently I am now studying all sorts of forums and websites trying to sift out the useful advice, and systematically working through the suggested fixes. It all takes time and patience, and does not really help to sell wine! I will soldier on….

Recycling revisted

January 23rd, 2015

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green-recycling-iconOf course bottles, paper and carton have a comparatively simple journey through the recycling chain, whereas plastics are a bit more complicated. If I understand it correctly it’s only the ‘hard’ plastics that can be recycled anyway (not the plastic wrappers as I am always reminding Angela). This means that most of the materials that we use in our bottling will be born again, which only really leaves the closure.

For some time now (over ten years) we have been using Nomacorc which is made from low-density polyethylene, classified as food-grade No. 4  recyclable plastic. On face value therefore, there should be no problem simply throwing all your Castro Martin closures into the plastic recycling, except for one fundamental problem – they are simply too small. Most modern recycling plants have sorting grates, where the smaller items fall through, end up on the floor, and end up being used as landfill. It’s a real waste considering they could be ground into pellets and reformed as food trays, computer hardware, phone cases, floor mats or any number of things. In some parts of the world there are collection points for these closures so that they are not wasted, but unfortunately I don’t really see that happening any time soon in our small corner of the world.

I should finally mention that our closures can also be re-used as pencil ‘erasers’ (please note that I did refrain from calling them ‘rubbers’ which could have caused some consternation amongst our American readers!)

Posted in Green Issues

BottleDoes the idea of drinking a bottle of wine per day seem just a little excessive to you? Well according to the study of yet another alcohol ‘expert’, drinking 7 bottles a week, or say 365 bottles a year, will not do you any harm. In research carried out by former World Health Organisation alcohol expert Dr Kari Poikolainen, he claims that we can consume up to 13 units of alcohol per day without any ill effect. With a 75cl bottle of our Castro Martin albariño containing only 9 units, this would mean that drinking 1½ bottles per day would be just about within the limit!

My own personal belief is pretty much the same as the advice that we are usually given. Enjoy your wine, but take it in moderation – indeed I have always thought that a glass of wine with your meal is possibly a good way to aid digestion, or is that just another misleading ‘expert’ opinion? On the other side of the coin there are those who would argue that wine is a toxin and should be avoided altogether, but then this is perhaps a rather extreme view. Surely the solution to this ongoing conundrum must lie somewhere between the two.

Time to take stock

January 15th, 2015

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StockThe last couple of days have been quite frantic in our bodega, as we have conducted two consecutive days of bottling. The reason for this was quite simple – we were running very low on bottled stock. Of course this is perhaps the way that it should be at this time of year, cleaning out the cellar at Christmas and then starting the new year with fresh stock. Precise planning I think it’s called…. 

Being very honest we did cut it a bit fine at the end of last year, but I am pleased to say that at least we didn’t run out of any wine, and that every order was fulfilled in a timely fashion (something that we pride ourselves on). Having said that, it’s really just as well that we did replenish our stocks so early in the New Year – the new bottlings have arrived just as a number of importers also need to replenish their own cellars after the holidays. Anyone in our business who thought that there might be a lull in our January workload has been sadly mistaken, but happily for all the right reasons. Quite naturally we have our fingers crossed that this positive start will continue throughout 2015!

Posted in Bodega, Business

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