Now, I have to admit that I've always been markedly better at drinking wine than at tasting it. Confident with a corkscrew from the age of three, I am peerless in the art of opening the bottle, pouring a generous glass, quaffing said glass, and then repeating this process ad infinitum, preferably whilst lying on the sofa. All that other stuff though - the holding it up to the light, the swooshing round the glass, the wafting, the inhaling, the admiration of mysterious properties such as "legs", the earnest discussion of all things chocolate and cherry, gooseberry and grass - has always been a little beyond me, not least because after all that hard work and effort it appears you are expected to simply POUR AWAY the wine into a nearby receptacle, such as a spittoon or, in my case, a husband.
I have, however, been broadening my bibendary horizons in recent weeks. Last month, I quaffed knowledgeably with The Didsbury Wine Club and learned many things - most notably that Reserve Wines sell a marvellous Bordeaux and that too much wine on a school night is not always entirely a good thing. And then last night, I found myself at The Market Restaurant in the Northern Quarter in the company of 17 lovely, enthusiastic and - by the end - quite drunk people convening for the second Seven Word Wine Review dinner. The premise here is simple - you bring along a bottle of wine that you love and which costs under £20 (*pretends is regularly in the habit of spending £20 on a bottle of wine rather than more usual £7.99 or similar*) and then share it with the other guests, explaining what it is and why you like it. And yes, I too was surprised to find that a bottle of wine will serve 17 people (albeit in rather daintier portions than is my natural inclination to pour).
We started with a sparkling red, then moved on to whites, and then hit the reds, all the while cleverly multi-tasking by eating the three course meal that appeared by magic in front of us - pate, followed by steak, followed by gargantuan cheese platters. The benefits here are so astonishing that quite frankly I can't believe I've not been going to this sort of thing for years - you get to try loads of different wines that you might not normally choose, and because you're not paying a restaurant mark-up on any of it you can spend a little more than perhaps might be in your nature *looks askance at Wiganer husband*.
My favourite wines of the night? In terms of white, it was the St Clair Pioneer Block Sauvignon Blanc, brought by wine enthusiast Si and purchased from Majestic Wines. And, rather immodestly, my favourite red was the Chateau des Gravieres brought by, ahem, me; although any glory I might have claimed from "discovering" this gem was somewhat negated by the presence of Omar - the very man who introduced me to it last month at The Didsbury Wine Club. To be honest, though, I enjoyed most of the wines, and even if I hadn't the joyous company would have more than compensated - no pretensions here, just nice, knowledgeable people talking about what they enjoy drinking and keeping mercifully quiet about legs and gooseberries.
Mind you - if anyone has any ideas what I should take to the next Seven Word Wine Review dinner then do please be in touch - both our wines last night may have been a hit (they are pictured here in a "before" and "after" shot) but I might just need your help if I'm to keep up the pretence of being a classy wine-drinker...
- Last night's dinner was organised by the lovely Gordon: you can follow him on Twitter as @everymanwines or check out his excellent wine blog here. We paid £20 a head for our three courses at The Market Restaurant and they brought so much excellent cheese even I couldn't get through it all (although I did try).