Lauraine Jacobs

Food Writer and Author of Delicious Books

Wines to drink

30 May 2010


I really care about the wines I drink and will take some time to choose a bottle for dinner. But when I am entertaining I can often become so absorbed by the cooking process and all the attendant details of organising everything and everybody, it is quite late into the evening before I have a chance to truly relax and sip my wine.

This was exactly the case last Friday when we invited four guests (girlfriends who had all been at school together in Perth last century, and were on a week long reunion tour north of Auckland, to see a little corner of New Zealand.) I cooked a three course meal; a puff pastry tart with long slow cooked caramelised onions, manuka cold smoked salmon, horseradish cream and salmon caviar, followed by barbecued spiced lamb with salad and crunchy roast potatoes and fresh mandarins in rum and caramel syrup to finish. And by the look of the bottles above, pictured in my hallway next morning, we managed to get through six different wines.

I certainly enjoyed my glass of Moet et Chandon NV at the beginning of the evening. Bubbles always get me, and everybody else in a great mood. Moet is always lively, not too acidic and a popular choice in our house. But then the drinking desires of our group diverged, and my husband was kept busy pouring different wines for each of the guests. One wanted red, a red that was mild and fruity. So she had Wild Earth Pinot Noir 07 from Central Otago, and it wasn’t until I relaxed once the main course was on the table that I had a chance to taste this wine. It was lovely, well structured, a lingering taste and terrifically balanced. I would buy that again as it is a particularly super example from the southern part of the country. Once that bottle was emptied they had opened Envoy Pinot Noir 2007, a classy wine from Marlborough made by Spy Valley, and I was proud to think we could give the Aussie girls two out of two pinots that were exceptional.

But two of the other visitors and my husband wanted to drink white. He loves Chardonnay so his favourite, the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve 2007 came out and he was happy. No so the girls, who declared a preference for Riesling. I have stashed away my own supply of Muddy Water Rieslings, and it wasn’t until I examined the bottles in the hallway, that I realised he’d given them one of my all time favourites; the James Hardwick 2008. Damn! I was so busy cooking I didn’t get any. But they had loved it too.

And as the evening ended the husband brought out one of his favourite wines, to honour the Perth girls. Cape Mentelle is a winery in Margaret River, Western Australia where superb reds and fine chardonnays star. A toast and a drink for the road, as the team were travelling back home the next morning. All I had to do was stack the bottles in the recycle bin and muse over what I had missed out on.