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Top Wine Tips From Susy Atkins
Without the opportunity to taste it, buying wine online or choosing a bottle from the supermarket shelves can prove a daunting task – especially when there are so many varieties, regions and vintages to choose from. From how to store your favourite bottles to finding the perfect match for your seasonal menu, wine expert and Sunday Telegraph columnist Susy Atkins shares her expertise with Style Insider.
Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a complete novice, look to Susy’s top tips when choosing your next bottle of wine:
What is your number one tip for pairing wine? Get the balance right! Light food needs light wine; sugary food needs a sweet wine. It sounds very obvious, but people sometimes plump for a contrast between food and wine, and that rarely works.
Are there any universal wines that would pair well with a varied dinner party menu? Definitely those from Burgundy, France. The whites are rounded and soft, consummately food friendly, great with fish, seafood and chicken; while the red Burgundies are smooth and juicy and marry well with all red meats or cheeses.
How long will wine last once opened? It depends on its style - light wines will deteriorate more quickly (two to three days) than rich ones (up to four days). But always reseal open wines and keep them in a cool, dark place before finishing.
How should wine be stored? Always store fine wine lying on its side in a cool spot. If the cork dries out, which it will if the bottle is standing up, it will shrink and let in air, and then the wine will be spoilt.
Should you use different glasses for different wines? Use glasses with larger bowls for red wine so you can swirl it round a bigger surface area and open it up to the air, releasing its aroma and flavour. White wines need a smaller bowl but they should have a long stem so you can hold it there and not warm up the bowl with hot hands.
What is your opinion on sweet vs. dry wine? Most wines sold today are dry, though the best, if rare, medium-dry styles come from Germany and Alsace and the Loire, in my view. But proper, luscious dessert wines are definitely back in fashion. The finest come from Bordeaux, the Loire, Austria, Canada, Hungary and Germany.
What does the vintage refer to? The vintage of a wine is the year the grapes were grown, so a Sancerre labelled 2013 has a 'vintage' of 2013. A non-vintage wine is blended from different years.
What is your favourite summer wine and food pairing? Chilled, dry Provençal rosé with seafood, or really good Champagne with sushi!
What is your favourite winter wine and food pairing? Older Rioja; mellow and amazing with slow-roast lamb, or savoury, peppery Chilean carmenère with Indian red meat curries.
Champagne or prosecco? Both! Prosecco for a big, thirsty party, or a lunchtime treat, but Champagne for a special occasion, a real celebration.
Wine expert Susy Atkins of Saturday Kitchen and The Telegraph's Stella Magazine will be hosting a Harrods summer wine tasting on Thursday 30th July, 7.30pm–10pm. Tickets are £45 per person. To book, please call the Wine Rooms on 0207 893 8777 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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