Wine trends… (and how they are shaped by) craft beers
While millennial-bashing may be a sport enjoyed by some, we have many things to thank them for. Okay, we are talking very first world here, but you have to admit, the craft beer market, which is not just for bearded hipsters, has thrived due to younger customers. As more discerning beer drinkers have started to head into their late 20s and early 30s, they're also setting new trends when it comes to the wine we're drinking. And this, according to Dermot Nolan, a Master of Wine who has just opened a new wine shop, Wine Library, on George's Street in Dún Laoghaire, south Co Dublin, is a very good thing indeed.
"The craft beer movement has been great. It's opened people up to the notion of different flavours, which wasn't there before," he tells me when I drop in for a visit. "Now as they're getting older, they're more interested in wine and why it tastes the way it does. I think the older generation are interested in wine in the same way they were 10 years ago, and they're relatively set in what they're going to buy. Which is fair enough, nothing wrong with that: once you find what you like, why not stick to it? But with the younger generation, many of them have been all over the world. They're interested in different foods, different flavours, and different styles of things, so wine can do an awful lot more than beer can."
Not only is the interest in different flavours playing a big part in how younger people select their wine, authenticity and a sense of how a wine has been produced and the people behind it are more important. "People are looking for the story behind the wine rather than just, 'Oh, I need this to go with fish.' It's a different type of interest. That is making it very exciting nowadays and this makes this type of shop, where I know all the people who produce these wines, interesting to people. Some of the wines are from huge companies, some of them are very small companies; it's a selection of wines that are important to me over the last 27-odd years. They are wines that I've known for a long time," he says.
Dermot jokes that they are wines that nobody buys - an exaggeration, there are some familiar favourites as well as more exotic and unusual choices - but he hopes to smash a few perceptions, and he sees a definite trend for people exploring new flavours rather than just buying wines from the same old regions. You could learn something new by sitting back in the shop and browsing through his personal selection of wine books (hence the name Wine Library), you could attend one of his classes which will be starting in the autumn, or you could pick his brains. Take Chardonnay, for instance.
"There hasn't been a big oaky Chardonnay made in Australia in 20 years," he says, as if everyone refuses to listen. "Australia is just a long way away and people don't know what's going on there. That's because people don't buy Jacob's Creek. If you bought Jacob's Creek in the last 15 years, you'd have seen a very different style of wine to what you expected. People have this misplaced notion that, first of all, there's something wrong with big oaky Chardonnay and, second, that the country is awash with it. You'd struggle to find one." So there you have it. Don't feel shy about popping Jacob's Creek into your basket when you're at the supermarket and if you're looking for something better, a top-quality Yarra Valley Australian Chardonnay for around €50 is a much better buy than an expensive white Burgundy. It's been trouncing the competition in blind tastings. In the meantime, on the right are four of Dermot's bottles to try.
With reports that Ireland is back to Celtic Tiger spending levels, and the sound of bottles of bubbly popping this summer, you may just be tempted to delve into the luxurious depths of your Chanel handbag and splurge on Ireland's first exclusive Krug Champagne Dining Experience which is running until 30th September at Wilde's restaurant in the Westbury. Or if Prosecco is more your style, take a guided tour down the 20 miles of Prosecco Road in Conegliano, which is lined with small terraced vineyards, stay three nights in Venice and visit Harry's Bar, the home of the Bellini. Details on italy4real.com/tours/prosecco-lovers-tour
4 wines to try
Cocci Grifoni Le TorRi Falerio Pecorino 2014, €15.75
13pc, from The Wine Library, Co Dublin, and The Wicklow Wine Company
The Pecorino grape was saved when Guido Cocci Grifoni decided to put it on the label of his wines. Soft and fruity, this has a touch of fennel and would be perfect on its own or served with fish accompanied by a dill sauce.
Pfaffl Apple Grüner Veltliner 2015, €16.50
12pc, from The Wine Library, Co Dublin and The Wicklow Wine Company
The clue is in the label and this fresh Grüner Veltliner has the characteristic apple flavours of this snappy white. Perfect on its own, as a spritzer or with a light salad.
Domaine Girard Pinot Noir 2015, €17.75
13.5pc, from The Wine Library and The Corkscrew in Dublin, and The Wicklow Wine Company
From a winery sitting 420 metres above sea level in the Pyrenees, this fresh, lively Pinot Noir offers everything you’d expect from a Burgundy at a more affordable Languedoc price. Perfect with a mushroom risotto or a coq au vin.
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2012, €22
14.5pc, from The Wine Library, Co Dublin and independent off-licences
Koonunga Hill was first released in 1976 for $1.69 a bottle and now fetches about $300 on the secondary market. This is more affordable with a rich texture and flavours of plums and chocolate.