Friday, March 10, 2017

Ask the Princess - savoury wine query

Dear Princess and the Pinot,

I want to buy a nice bottle of wine and have a very particular idea about the sort of wine I would like it to be. But I am doubtful that if I go in to the shop I can put across what I want and expect will leave with the wine they want to sell me, not the one I want, and they will manage to make me feel awkward and embarrassed to boot. 

I want to buy a particularly nice wine to celebrate next week, and I really fancy a savoury wine, that is rich and sumptuous, with leather, tobacco and chocolate, but is also mellow. What I really don't want is something that is herby, earthy in any way green, or that has a bitter aftertaste. 

Anyway I have no idea how to ask for something like that except by how I just have, and when I go into a shop they never steer the questions to that sort of descriptor. Instead they normally ask for country, grape type, maybe age and price.

Any ideas?


Thank you for your question, and I hope I can help you choose the wine you're looking for. 

The best place for us to start is grape. You want to go for a full-bodied red wine that grows in a hot climate so it has the thick skins that produce the tannins, which will develop the leather, tobacco and chocolate flavours you're after.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot, Nero D'Avola and Nebbiolo all tend to have herbal/floral characteristics, so lets leave them aside for now. Malbec, although savoury, and full-bodied, tends not to have as much tannin that we're looking for. 

You could reach for a Syrah, with blueberry, plum, milk chocolate, tobacco and green peppercorn as the dominant flavour characteristics, but I suspect this won't be savoury enough for you. Petite Sirah might have the punch not answered by Syrah, with dominant blueberry, dark chocolate, black pepper and black tea flavours. Mourvedre could also be a winner with its blackberry, black pepper, cocoa, tobacco and meat flavour profile. Aglianico might also be a contender with its high tannin, something unusual, and savoury profile.

To avoid the bitter aftertaste from the tannins you should look for something that has had time to age, so ideally at least three years old. 

The next question is price, and since you've not given that to me, I'll give you some options below...

My first choice would be Hewitson Old Garden Mourvedre, Barossa Australia 2009 £54 from DVine Cellars. This is my most favourite wine ever, and is very special with dark plum, salted caramel, cinnamon and seductive smooth tannin with extraordinary depth.

If Old Garden is above your price range, and it is for most people, then I'd suggest Pedroncelli Petite Sirah, Sonoma Country USA 2012 £13.99 from Laithwaites. Purple and dense in the glass. Rich aromas of red berried, plums, cinnamon toast. Deep complex flavours of ripe plum and dark chocolate with a warm spice finish.

Alternatively you could go for something different, more of a risk, with Piccolomini Aglianico, Italy 2013 £20 from Pieroth. Garnet-coloured with high tannins and acidity. Harsh when young, but after some ageing softens to reveal lovely plummy flavours with a hint of chocolate. Famours for being great when paired with lamb.

I hope this answers your question. Enjoy!

To find out more about Princess and the Pinot and our pop-up wine bars please visit 

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Great, clear and easy to understand advice. Princess and the Pinot where have you been all my wine life?