A Bit of Fizz for the Festive Season.

Whenever we want to celebrate, we tend to think of a bottle of Fizz… but what fizz? that is the question. I have put together a brief note on various bottles of Sparkling wines that will help you celebrate.

FRANCE

CHAMPAGNE – This is a region of France and only wine made in this small region, made to strict regulations and of specific grapes can be legally called Champagne. Prices range from £15.00 to £125,000.00 (Yes that is what someone paid recently!) and everything in between.

CREMANT Another French Sparkling wine, with stringent regulations as to the making of the wine, but not limited to one specific region of France. (in fact 7 regions, and one in Luxembourg) The wine is made in the Champagne Method but with many different grape varieties so the taste is quite different, as is the price tag. Spending £15.00 on a bottle of Cremant could be far better value and a more interesting taste than a very cheap bottle of Champagne in my opinion.

ITALY

PROSECCO This is a grape and a region (Confusing I know) the style of Prosecco ranges from very sweet to bone dry and can be slightly sparkling or beautifully fizzy… (I repeat -confusing)  Prices range from £5.00 to £50.00 Personally I feel that about £12 to £15 will get you a wonderful, fresh, joyous Prosecco.

ASTI – This is a slightly sweet sparkling wine made in Piedmont and is often much lower in alcohol, (about 8%) A Moscato d’Asti is more of a frizzante (Lighter fizz) and usually much sweeter. (Try it with a bit of fruit cake… lovely!)

FRANCIACORTA A region in Northern Italy (Lombardy), the sparkling wines from this area are less famous than some of the other wines of Italy but they can be wonderful. Made to strict regulations in the Method Traditional this is a wonderful alternative to Champagne. With prices ranging from £20.00 to £200.00

LAMBRUSCO (Don’t Laugh!) with prices starting at £3.00 a bottle this wine has a strange reputation. HOWEVER – there are some wonderful wines from this region of Emilia. They also make sparkling red wines that are full bodied, full flavoured and fizzy! The reds start at about £10.00 a bottle, go on give it a go, you will be surprised. (Pleasantly I hope.)

PORTUGAL

ESPUMANTE – This is the name given to Portuguese sparkling wine. It is produced throughout Portugal, however the quality assured wines must come from Northern Portugal. (Bairrada) and comply with stringent regulations. These are stamped VEQPRD. The cheapest sparkling wines from this country are injected with CO2 to give them the Fizz. Prices range from £8.00 to £80.00

SPAIN

CAVA – This is the name that springs to mind when thinking of Spanish Fizz. It is produced throughout Spain and is made in the traditional method and with prices ranging from £6.00 it is a good everyday fizz. This wine also comes in various styles, which I will touch on later.

ENGLAND

Oh yes… We are now producing about 2 Million bottles of Fizz in England each year. Try some… you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Rest of the World

America, South Africa, Germany, Romania, Hungry, The Soviet Union,Austria, Canada, Australia and others all make sparkling wines either by the Method Traditional, or Charmat or by injecting CO2 into the wines.

SWEET OR DRY???

Sweet – Doux – Dolce – Doce

Medium Sweet – Moelleux – Amabile – Meio Doce -Semidulce

Medium Dry – Demisec – Abboccato – Adamado/Meio Seco – Semiseco

Dry – Sec – Secco/Asciutto – Seco

Whatever you try – have fun with your Celebrations.

WHY NOT TALK TO ME

Alex the Wine Lady

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Wine Tastings

I am hosting a couple of wine tastings  soon and so far the easiest part has been choosing the wines! The hard part is what and how much to say about the wines. Having to entertain 10 guests for 2 hours with 6 bottles of wine should be fairly easy, but I like to get it right.

What makes a good tasting? Here is my rough guide to hosting a wine tasting.

  • Get the numbers of guest right. Multiples of 10 is good, everyone gets a good share of the wine then. You should be able to get anywhere between 4 and 15 glasses out of a bottle depending on how generous you are.
  • Select wines that will be interesting and maybe something that
    people will not ordinarily drink. (A tasting is a chance to experience wines that you would not normally try.)
  • Themes can be interesting for example “Chardonnay from around the world”, “Pinks”, “Fizz”, or wines from a specific country or region. For a mixed tasting I like to start with a bit of fizz to help get a fun feel to the evening, two white wines, two red wines and then finish with either a Passito, pudding wine or sweet fizz.
  • Prepare the wines well in advance. (warm white wines will not go down well.)
  • Make sure there is water on the table for your guests.
  • Gauge the knowledge level of your guests. (Some tastings require lots more technical information, others require a more general approach.)
  • Tasting sheets are useful to the guest to note their preferences (and if you are also trying to sell the wines it helps with that too.)
  • Learn about the wines you are showing. Grape variety, region, wine maker, price etc.
  • Add a little humour. (People will remember a funny story about a wine a lot more than they will facts and statistics.)
  • Give people enough time to sample and discuss each wine. (especially if you have given them a generous amount to taste.)
  • Let them know where they can buy these wines if they like them. (or give a competitors name if they don’t like them.)
  • If you are doing food with the tasting then get foods that will enhance the wines not overpower them. Bread sticks or crackers are good, (they help to clean the palate for the next wine.) if you have big tannic red wines then some cheese will help soften the tannins. Serve a little pudding or sweet biscuit with the final wine if it is a pud wine or Passito.
  • Most importantly of all HAVE FUN!

If you live locally then I would be very happy to host a wine tasting for you (if you don’t live nearby why not host your own.) It is a great way to spend an evening. Either way…

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Alex the Wine Lady

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Did you know….?

Did you know….?

  • A single grapevine can produce between 4 and 6 bottles of wine.
  • Every bottle of wine contains just over a Kilo of grapes. (or if Great aunt Maud is reading this, that is about two and a half pounds.)
  • There are over 20 million acres of land planted with vines worldwide. (That will make a lot of wine!)
  • There are about 85 Calories in a glass of red wine. (This means a small glass of about 125ml 5fluid oz) or if you drink the whole bottle about 510 calories.
  • In dry white wine about 77 calories for a small glass or 462 calories for the bottle.
  • Rose wines is about 83 for the glass and 498 for the bottle.
  • Champagne about 90 calories per flute or 540 calories for the whole bottle.
  • There are 520 calories in a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder deluxe and that does not include chips or a drink…. (I know what I would rather have.)
  • Wine is Fat Free – and contains No Cholesterol 
  • A Nebuchadnezzar is the name given to a champagne bottle that holds 15 Litres of Champagne. (but who is strong enough to hold the bottle?)
If you have some fun facts about wine… please share them.

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Alex the Wine Lady

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‘Not today thank you.’

Selling can be a difficult task – selling over the phone can be horrendous. I have sold wine over the telephone for the last 12 years and I am generally treated very well and with respect but of course I sell a product that most people are interested in… Wine!

I understand that some telesales people are annoying, pushy and bring out our darker side. Many people have their own special ways of dealing with ‘unwanted’ telesales people and listed below are a few ways that you may or may not have used. (Obviously I never get any of these responses – as all my customers are lovely people and they want to hear from me.)

A real classic. Very simple and easy to adapt to whatever it is the telesales person is trying to sell.

Sales man/woman “I am from a  double glazing / health insurance / personal injury / wine company”

Potential customer ‘Oh we have all our windows done / My life is fully insured / I have not had an accident / I am teetotal.’

Simple and to the point. you can hang up then with a clear conscience.

Here however are some slightly more imaginative responses for some of the more annoying telesales people.

“I am not allowed to talk to strangers” Hang up.

“I am not allowed to play with sharp objects… do you like sponges?” await response then hang up. (My husband’s personal favourite)

“I am extremely interested in what you are saying, please continue” then hang up. If they call back repeat and continue until they give up.

“Are you the woman/man having an affair with my husband/wife?” ‘Er No Madam/Sir, I am trying to sell double glazing” Shout “That’s just a cover you are having an affair arn’t you?….” then hang up. (This obviously only works if you are the same sex as the telesales person.)

In response to the question “Hi Madam, how are you today?” I find telling them about all my ailments, past and present, is a great way to get a load off your chest. Then hang up.

“I am recording this conversation and anything you say can and will be used in evidence – continue with your sales pitch.” wait for them to hang up.

The most simple and easy way is “Not today thank you” then hang up.

My personal favourite thing to say to a telesales person is “Oh thank you Alex I will have 2 cases of the white and one of the red please.”

Talk to me

Alex the Wine Lady

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or Twitter @alexoharared

or email me alexthewinelady@gmail.com

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Filed under Alex the Wine Lady, Bat and Bottle, excuses, Funny, Telesales, Uncategorized, Wine

Lost Voice = Lost Sales??

A lost voice for a person who sells wine over the telephone really does equal lost sales. My husband however has found my ailment highly amusing and keeps trying to get me to talk dirty to him over the phone because my voice has gone through various stages from falsetto to guttural. (I think it was the guttural he enjoyed most!)

I have spent a whole week unable to make a phone call… even now I am a little squeaky! If I have failed to call you and you were expecting a call then I will get round to you soon. (You can always call me and take the mickey!)

There are various illnesses that impede some jobs and not others and a second list of some jobs are enhanced by certain illnesses… please add to the list if you think there are any more you can think of.

An illness that impedes.

  1. A telesales girl (or boy) losing their voice
  2. A lone worker with a tummy upset
  3. A mountaineer with vertigo
  4. A banker with a concience (That’s not really an illness but hay ho)
  5. A dentist with Odontophobia (Scared of teeth)
  6. Chimney sweep with asthma
  7. Brain surgeon with hic-ups
  8. A sign writer with dyslexia
 An illness that helps!
  1. A pirate with an amputation
  2. A sewage operative with anosmia 
  3. A female circus performer with a beard
  4. A night watchman (or woman) with insomnia
  5. A cleaning lady (or man) with OCD

I am sure you can think of some more

Talk to me

Alex the Wine Lady

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or email me alexthewinelady@gmail.com

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Perfect Wines for a Dinner Party

With hit shows like Come Dine With Me and Masterchef, together with a dint in some of our funds, ‘staying in’ is the new ‘going out’ .

Other than choosing a menu and selecting the guests (which in itself can be a total nightmare – are Uncle Henry and Great Aunt Maud talking again – will your bosses wife end up under the table again?) Choosing which wines to serve with your meal to compliment your food and impress your guests can be a hard decision.

I always like to start a dinner party with a glass of Prosecco. It is an excellent way to greet guests and most people will accept a glass of fizz. When all your guests have finally arrived then you can seat everyone.

I will very often serve a seafood starter or a soup for my first course and I can think of nothing better than a Verdicchio to compliment any seafood dish. With hints of honey and lemon this wine will enhance any starter. Your guests will also be thrilled with the elegance of this wine. (I love to make a crab meat and smoked salmon parcel as a starter – it never fails to satisfy.) 

For a main course I like to have something that does not need a lot of final finishing, a new favourite of mine is a Steak and Smoked Oyster pie with roasted vegetables. For this I need a big flavourful red. Something that can compete with the rich flavours but not drown out the subtle smokiness of the oysters. I have a great organic Malbec from Argentina called Ruca Malen and this will be beautiful. Tight berry fruit and a long finish. (I think I am going to have to have a dinner party soon – this is making my mouth water)

I am not really a pudding person but an old favourite which is easy to make and will not leave me stuck in the kitchen away from my guests for too long is a light and dark, Tia Maria chocolate mousse – heaven. As it is prepared earlier in the day I just need to serve it out. But what with? A Vin Santo is of course a great traditional pudding wine and with its sweet, tangy flavours would be perfect, however I also have a Spergola from Reggiano with hints of peach and a refreshing cleansing fizz that is only 6% proof and an incredible pudding wine.

Finally the Cheese and biscuits and then the washing up…. oh well. the Late Bottled Vintage Port from Niepoort will go down beautifully…. lets hope I get some invites back.

Whatever you serve – I am always ready to help with food and wine matching so please-

Talk to me

Alex the Wine Lady

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 or email me alexthewinelady@gmail.com

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Filed under Alex the Wine Lady, Bat and Bottle, organic wine, Uncategorized, Vin Santo, Wine

Some Wine Misconceptions.

When I sell wine I talk to people about the wine, what it tastes like, the grapes, the wine maker, the price and many other aspects of the wine. There are times though when someone throws me a curved ball…. I sometimes assume that people know what they are talking about and then realise that, like most of us… we know so little. (Not just about wine… most of us know very little about a lot of things.) I thought I would share with you a few of the most common and sometimes humorous misconceptions and quotes that I have heard or made over my years selling wine over the telephone.

  1. Merlot and Pinot both have a silent T. (Apparently Greta Garbo one said to Jean Harlow, ‘The T is silent dear, as in Harlot.’)
  2. Chablis is made with Chardonnay grapes as are most of the white wines from Burgundy. Most white wine from the Loire, like Sancerre and Pouilli Fumé, are made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
  3. Champagne is a region of France. You cannot have Spanish Champagne, Italian Champagne or  English Champagne or even Indian Champagne which I heard about recently. (Sadly the French are a bit picky about this.)
  4. Rosé wine is not a mix of red and white wines. The blending of Red and White wines is highly discouraged and illegal in France. (Rosé is made from red grapes, but the wine is drawn off before the skins colour the wine too much.)
  5. If the wine has a ‘nutty character’ it does not mean that the wine maker added nuts to it. (This also applies to herbs, apricot, kiwi, apples, tar. cigar or chocolate.)
  6. If a wine offer is too good to be true… it probably is.

Below are some reasons why people did or did not want to buy a particular wine.

  1. “I had a girlfriend of that name once and I don’t think I should stir up those arguments again.” (The wine was Margaux – pronounced Margo, the character played by Penelope Keith in the Good Life)
  2. “What colour is the label because I have just decorated the dining room?”
  3. “I only want screw top wines now, I need to open them quickly”
  4. “The bottle is too large to fit into my fridge.”
  5. “I like white wine, my husband likes red wine… so can we have some Rosé wine please.”
  6. “I am 86 now and I want wines that are ready to drink now.”
  7. “I would like a case of 12 of those please, the doctor said I would be here a while longer.” (as it happens he is still here and still buying wine!)
  8. Me – “What sort of wine do you like?” Customer – “The red one!”
  9. “The last wine I got from you, 5 bottles were corked, It tasted great but the bits of cork in it had to be fished out of the glass.” (I did suggest that the lady should buy a new corkscrew to solve this little problem.)
There are many times I am grateful that I work on the telephone and I hope that I have cleared up a couple of things about wine. If you have any funny quotes please let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Talk to me
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You can follow me on Facebook
 or Twitter @alexoharared
or visit the web site for Bat and Bottle
 or email me alexthewinelady@gmail.com

2 Comments

February 2, 2012 · 14:46