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Archive from December 2014

Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


There's just two weeks of shopping to go until Christmas, but luckily if you haven't yet finished (or even started !) buying your Christmas presents, the Gourmet Odyssey gift packs are available to be sent up to 12:30 Paris time on the 22nd December, depending on the destination country. For the very last minute gifts, we can also send a certificate by email for all orders received by 12:30 on the 24th December, and we'll post the welcome pack to arrive shortly after Christmas. Here are a few Christmas gift ideas for wine lovers.

Adopt some vines this Christmas for someone close in one of our 7 organic partner vineyards in France. For a winemaking year, they'll follow the evolution of their wine and will end up with their own personalised bottles of wine.

Participate in the harvest in a French vineyard

To complete this gift idea, you can also include one or more of the 3 Wine Experience Days at the winery. Participate in the work in the vineyard to help produce the best quality grapes during a Discovery Experience Day, or join the Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the vat. The third option is the Vinification Experience Day to learn about the work in the cellar to ferment, age and blend the wines. Each day allows you to get involved in the work of the winemaker, to share a meal and taste wines from the winery.

The winemakers' lunch and wine tasting during the Experience Days

All of our partner winemakers are organically certified and are passionate about their profession. They'll welcome you with pleasure and will let you in behind the scenes to learn more about the fascinating world of wine.

This unique and authentic approach to wine makes a great personalised Christmas gift. To have something to put underneath the Christmas tree and open on Christmas day, the welcome pack contains a sommelier's apron, a DropStop, personalised certificate and more information about the chosen experience.

 

More information on Christmas delivery times

More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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How to go about pairing food and wine?


With the end of year festivities nearly upon us, so we turn our thoughts to what culinary delights we are going to serve. And when we've gone to all the effort of preparing a special meal, it's only natural to open a good bottle of wine, or the bottle of wine that you've been saving up for just such an occasion! A good meal in good company can become an unforgettable moment, so it's well worth putting that extra little bit of thought in. And a few simple rules can help the task.

The basics

When serving several different types of wine during a meal, it's usually best to work your way up in quality as the meal progresses, or else you run the risk of being disappointed with anything that comes after the first wine served. Often, it's best to start with a more acidic wine, and to then go up in power, finishing with the smoothest wine, but of course, nothing is ever set in stone.

Sometimes the most obvious pairings are indeed the best. Regional dishes served with a local wine are often a winning bet. Wine paired with food of the same colour often goes well together. Red wines for red meats, and white wines with fish to cite the most obvious examples. Naturally, it doesn't mean that colours can never been mixed!

There are however a few combinations that are best avoided. Vinaigrette's generally don't go well with any type of wine, and red wines bring out the bitter side of exotic fruit.

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

 

Pairing ideas for Christmas

The apéritif and the dessert

Often, a sweet wine is served to start with the aperitif or starter. You need to be careful though not to saturate the taste buds, which will then be less receptive to the dishes that follow.

Sometimes champagne is served with the dessert. Whilst this can work, it can be preferable to serve the champagne at the beginning of the meal, as the bubbles will bring freshness and an acidic sensation to help sharpen the taste buds in preparation for the meal to come.

Oysters
We usually match oysters with dry white wines. Fresh, acidic white wines go well, as do slightly saline wines. Riesling wines from Alsace, Chablis and some white Crozes Hermitage can be great, as well of course as a good Muscadet aged on its lees.

Game

Wild game is often strong in flavour and accompanied by a rich and spicy sauce. More complex red wines will go best with this type of dish. For example a Saint-Joseph, a Pic Saint Loup or a Medoc for feathered game, or a Saint-Emilion, Fitou or Minervois for bigger game.

Turkey

To avoid accentuating the dryness of the meat from this bird, its best to go for an elegant wine, red or white, that will bring some freshness. A good red wine from Beaujolais or the Loire, or a white wine from Burgundy or the Cotes du Jura should do you well. For a fruitier wine, try a Mercurey or a Maçon.

Desserts and chocolate

It's time to bring out the sweeter wines, and in France there are a few which go really well, such as a Maury, Banyuls, Rasteau or Madiran.

 

A few less classic matches

Cheese and white wine

More and more people are choosing to serve a white wine with cheese. At Christmas time, some cheeses go particularly well with this association. For example a Vacherin de Mont d'Or with a Côtes du Jura, or a Comté with a "Vin de Paille". Blue cheeses such as a Roquefort go very well with a Sauternes or a port.

Fish and red wine

With its tender and delicate flesh, fish is best suited to delicate wines. A Pinot Noir from Beaune or Volnay can help underline its subtlety.


An original example of food and wine pairing from our partner winery, Allegria

 

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Allegria

A few months ago now, Domaine Allegria, near Pézenas, worked together with the Cigalon restaurant in Geneva to create a special food and wine tasting evening. The following is the description of their original menu.

To start with, a trio of tuna, salmon and oysters served in a paupiette, matched with the Cinsault Abuelo 2012 red wine from the winery. The tannins of the Cinsault Abuelo are very soft, and the wine has a slightly saline touch on the palate which marries very well with seafood.

The second course was roasted wild prawn on a bed of green papaya, accompanied by the Tribu d'A 2012 white wine. The association with the note of fennel present in the white wine is great. The green papaya brings an acidic touch, making for a very fresh dish.

For the main course, the most unexpected of the evening's pairings. A fillet of red mullet on a bed of wild rice from the Piémont, accompanied by La Belle Histoire 2009. On the powerful meat of the red mullet, the Belle Histoire 2009, revealed velvety tannins, and sumptuous intense aromas.

For pudding, poached pear with spices, served with the Miel Monastrel 2011, a naturally sweet red wine.

 

Of course pairing food and wine is limitless, and fortunately so! There are as many possible pairings as people around the table, and we each have our personal preferences. One thing that is sure though, is that to find that pearl of a match, you have to test different combinations of food and wine, and you have to admit that there are worse ways to spend your time

 

 

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 “My Vine” competition


For the third year running, Gourmet Odyssey has just announced the winners of the My Vine photo competition. Open to all participants of one of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Days, the competition is for the most original photo of their adopted vines.

This year, two prizes were up for grabs, the first chosen by the Gourmet Odyssey jury and the second by yourselves on the Facebook page. The choice wasn't easy and the debate long for the jury's selection!

Congratulations to Guillaume Gilleron, the Facebook winner, and to Jeremy Blackwell for the jury prize. Here are the photos.

The Facebook winner
 
The jury prize

Each winner will receive a magnum of wine from the winery where their adopted vines are located.

Many thanks to all the participants, and to all those who voted. We'll be back soon with the new competition for 2015!

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Choose your fridge to keep your wine


At Christmas time, the gift ideas for wine lovers abound, and one of the popular ideas is a wine fridge. There is a very varied range of options to choose from with differing functionalities. The price can vary from between 500 and 15 000 euros depending on the model, so how do you choose between them?

A reminder on how to best conserve wines

To best store and age your wines in the optimum conditions, it's best to have as stable a temperature as possible, between 10 and 14°C. You also need to adapt the humidity depending on the length you wish to keep the wines. The wine should also be shielded from light and protected from vibrations because these can speed up the ageing process. For more information on storing wines, please refer to our article « Storing and serving wine for the festive season ».

 

Wine fridges for different purposes

Given the range of price and the different capabilities of the wine fridges, your choice will be made according to your budget and the person for whom the gift will be made. An adept wine connoisseur with precious wines to store will likely have more precise requirements than someone who wants a machine to simply bring the wines to the desired temperature before serving.

Generally speaking there are three types of wine fridge. Those designed for keeping wines for a long period where the temperature is kept constant at about 12°C throughout the fridge. The capacity can vary between 170 and 230 bottles for the largest ones, depending on the type of bottles to be stored.

Serving fridges are designed for the opposite purpose, not for storing wines, but for stocking them anywhere between a few hours or days before opening. The idea is to bring the wine to the ideal temperature for serving. They generally have a smaller capacity, between 10 and 40 bottles. The most advanced models have several zones to set different temperatures, enabling red wines to be warmed slightly, and white wines to be chilled at the same time.

And then there are general purpose wine fridges that enable all of the above, to either store or prepare wines for serving, with zones in the fridge ranging from 7 to 20°C. Some even allow open bottles to be stored in a vacuum to keep them a few days longer. But be careful, because general purpose doesn't always mean quality and efficiency! What are the criteria to take into account when buying a wine fridge?

 

The questions to ask

The first point to check is how the fridge is to be used. Storing wines for a long time, bringing wines to the correct temperature, or for storing a small number of bottles for example. Depending on the use, you'll choose between the three different types mentioned above. Another factor to take into account is whether the humidity level needs to be controlled. This is less important if the wines are to be stored for a relatively short period of time, compared to laying bottles down for many years.

Where the fridge will be located is the next question to ask. The available space will determine the dimensions. The design will also be more or less important depending on how visible the fridge will be. For the very design conscious, be aware however of glass doors, which aren't recommended for long term storage. It's better to go for solid or anti-UV treated doors.

It's also good to check the energy rating of the fridge, which has to be legally mentioned. The rating from A to C is specific to wine fridges and is useful to consider, because they can consume lots of energy.

The last advice is to go and physically see the fridges because you can also evaluate other factors such as the amount of noise it generates if you live in a relatively confined space, or the style if it is to feature in the middle of your living room.

 

So even though, there may be a large choice available, hopefully these few pointers will help you find the type of wine fridge best suited to your budget and use. All that's left to do is get out there and do some shopping

 

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Adopt a Vine in France and Let Them Follow the Making of Their Own Wine !

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