I’m not having that – alcohol free wine?

Fellow Wine Lovers,

That was nice wasn’t it?  Bit of a flurry of September sunshine but not so much that we all start moaning about how hot it is and how the garden needs some rain.  True to Pavlov’s conditional reflex findings, the weather worked a treat for us, everyone suddenly treating Tuesday/Wednesday as the new Friday/Saturday as the fridges could barely keep up with the rapid exodus of beer and rosé; excellent work one and all, hope you enjoyed yourselves!

And then it rained on Wednesday evening and we remembered that we live in England, this is how we roll.  The school holidays are finally over, the sound of horns on Arthur Road is perpetual as everyone gets stuck in traffic with no reverse gear and the regularity of cold calls from energy companies trying to get me to change supplier has quadrupled.  Ah, September, you unruly child.

And then we read some news that might send chills to the hearts of wine merchants across the universe (because, yes, that’s how far our tentacles have spread).  Having talked a month ago about how good coffee, cheese and two glasses of wine a day are for our heart health, we were delighted by the clever scientists researching wine and its benefits.  However, this week we are less sure and our uncertainty comes in the form of Dr Rudolph Schutte at Anglia Ruskin University.  I won’t repeat the whole of his research paper (probably because that would be some sort of copyright infringement) but suffice to say, your man is an expert on Cardiovascular Epidemiology.  He doesn’t have great things to say about beer, cider and spirits but then these have never been touted as being good for you.  However, the body blows came as he started giving wine a hard time: 

“There is an undeniable protective beneficial relationship between coronary heart disease and consumption of both red and white wine”

Good news so far, dankie Rudolph.

“However, this is only seen with coronary heart disease and none of the other cardiovascular diseases.”

Ok, it’s not a perfect panacea but at least it helps a bit.

“This relationship is also seen for alcohol-free wine, so it suggests the benefits are thanks to the polyphenols in the wine rather than the alcohol.”

What the?  Shut the front door?  No, no, no, no, no, no, no – I’m not having that – alcohol free wine?  In fairness we never really thought it was the booze in the drink that did us good, otherwise beer, cider and spirits would be our friends too but did he really have to spell it out, again.  Equally, if he was going to do so, couldn’t he have buried it in August when no one was looking?

Humph, it’s a bit like choosing your favourite weather forecast because it has the closest resemblance to what you want to hear.  Consequently, I think I’ll stick to reading the Italian research from a few weeks back and the articles by Prof Rosa María Lamuela-Raventós, from Universitat de Barcelona, who in July suggested evidence to show moderate consumption of red wine can help you to burn calories in food when drunk during meals, while offering a range of health benefits too – sound anything like the French Paradox to you?

As mentioned, the schools went back this week and at the same time another group in need of some decent education, Members of Parliament, returned to their banquettes on Monday.  Matt Hancock was jeered from all sides during his first bit of backbench bants but we know he’s deaf to criticism.  Gavin Williamson, interviewed in the Standard, was particularly proud of his friends stating ‘Gav, you have to have the hide of a rhino’. 

Well, if we look more closely at rhino attributes, perhaps he’s right: rhinos have poor vision and are unable to see much further than 30m – which obviously doesn’t go any way to explaining his Maro Itoje/Marcus Rashford mix-up; rhinos communicate through honks, sneezes…and poo – if you have ever listened to government debates you will have heard the first two and if you have ever read a government statement you’ll recognise the third.   Rhinos are also intelligent, social and emotional animals which is where the comparisons end and we realise that GW is just a complete numpty.

Wayne always likes to keep us up to date with the sport and reports that insurers, bookmakers and health experts are a trifle discombobulated today.  The Fifth test being cancelled means a big payback for all the fans who bought tickets and various other companies who will lose earnings as a consequence; by reaching the US Open final, Bromley’s finest tennis player, Emma Raducanu, at the age of 18 and ranked 338 in the world in June, might just have Messrs Hill and Ladbroke needing to visit the bank on Monday; and Shane Warne has been heard talking on Australian morning radio about his Covid isolation.  He states, whilst admitting it was a bad idea, that he thought he could beat the virus by smoking 100 ciggies a day…. by all accounts he ended up on a ventilator.  This may well be an apocryphal tale but it also sounds very Shane and very Oz-med!

Anyway, enough of all that, what shall we drink this weekend?  Now that the boys of summer have gone we can start thinking about red wine again, can’t we?  This is handy because we have a new wine in from South Africa to pop in your glasses.

Doran Vineyards Íosa Shiraz-Grenache Noir 2018 – £13.99.  Now, as we all know, Íosa means Jesus in both Irish and Arabic and also happens to be the name of Tom Doran’s son.  He assures us that the wine has never been water and is in fact a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Grenache.  The wines from each grape were made individually and then blended together on bottling.  The nose is filled with floral-scented berry fruit and the palate has gentle tannins and hints of spicy oak on the finish.  Supple, easy drinking and too easy to get to the bottom of the bottle!

As the sun might pop out, we’ll taste a South Africa white too – Barton Chenin Blanc 2020 – £12.49.  Hailing from Walker Bay, an area considered to have great potential: the region has varying altitudes and ideal soils that help produce some world class, elegant wines.  This Chenin has a lean, green apple and white pear nose whilst the palate has a full, rounded mouth-feel, still with the apple and pear but also some hints of spice and lingering acidity.

That’s all from us, we’re off to have an alcohol-full glass of wine – care to join?

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