What makes a wine great? Balance, tannin, complexity and depth of flavour are all important to a wine, but what really makes it special is impossible to quantify. The best wines bring that something extra, a sense of occasion, a feeling that something wonderful is happening. The best wines make a great moment immeasurably better.
Wine has brought this joy to people for some 6000 years, and is inextricably intertwined with food, family, leisure and work across Europe. In Italy, wine is a birthright, an expectation, as important to a daily routine as the requisite eight glasses of water. However, wine is newer to some of us, not quite so woven into our everyday. But culture is a living thing, constantly evolving as we do.
Britain has become one of the most dynamic wine countries in the world, despite its own meagre vinous offerings. From old men in bowties collecting rare clarets to young professionals picking at almonds and sipping sherry in a sexily lit bar in King’s Cross, a unique kind of wine culture has found its way into the country. It’s not quite as ingrained in our lives as in Italy, but we’re getting there. Britons could stand to learn a lot from how Italians drink wine. The unhurried, lazy way in which a glass is poured, and the inherent way they think about it. A dinner table isn’t set until there’s a jug or a bottle set among the bread and vegetables, and lunch without a glass doesn’t really count as lunch at all.