Cheers Dad! The top drink gifts to buy for Father's Day
Tomorrow is Father's Day, and rather than add to the 'World's Best Dad' mug collection of that significant male in your life, something breakable that is bottle-shaped will probably be more appreciated - or at least that's the case in our house.
But then there's the matter of taste and what to buy. Cue stereotypes and the all-important question: are men really from Shiraz and women from Chardonnay? How much do their palates differ from that of the fairer sex? And, considering that Robert Parker - one of the world's most influential wine critics - bows to the superior palate of his wife, Pat, are women better tasters than men?
Well, no surprises that there have been numerous studies on this very topic, and men and women do indeed differ in their taste preferences for sweet, sour, salt, bitter and other flavours.
Women are more likely to be 'supertasters', a term coined by Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University in the 1990s, with one study finding that female supers numbered as high as 34pc of the population while the male supers clocked in at 22pc. But before the males among you schlep off into a dark corner of wine-tasting shame, being a supertaster isn't a superpower. If you're a super, chances are you'll hate broccoli (yay!) - but before you shoot your hand up in glee, you are also less likely to enjoy spicy food, coffee, rich desserts and, yes, alcohol. Sounding less attractive now, don't you think? In supers, bitterness is pronounced to the point of being unbearable (no beer for you), while the taste of sugar and salt is heightened.
But back to the important question of the day. What is the best gift for Father's Day? Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell & Son says that whiskey is always a favourite and suggests Yellow Spot or Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, which has been aged in Bordeaux casks. For wine, he suggests a good Bordeaux, something like Château de la Cour or Château Lamarque from the Médoc.
Lynne Coyle, Master of Wine and head of wine buying at O'Briens, says that if you're unsure, Rioja is a good option, as it's an approachable wine style that tends to appeal. But as we prefer a richer, fuller style of red wine in Ireland, Malbec is another popular option.
"People are not looking to have loads of alcohol: it's more about the structure of the palate with richness and fullness," she says. "With red, they tend to want something quite robust in style, layers of flavour. They're not looking for something that's simple in style - they're looking for something with a bit of personality."
"We try to encourage people to be a little bit left of centre and maybe look at biodynamic wines or a quirky natural wine," says Gerard Maguire of 64 Wine in Glasthule, Co Dublin. "This year, we're going to emphasise a couple of very interesting rosés because we're coming into that time of year. Rather than generic rosés, we'll be suggesting bottles like Domaine Ott, which is one of the great rosés; and we also have Domaine de Terrebrune, a biodynamic rosé from Bandol, which we have in small quantities.
"They're very exciting wines because they're food wines - they're brilliant in terms of their quality, and they are also rosés that have the potential to age. We also have a fantastic new, natural Australian wine called Vin de Sofa, and it is extraordinary. It's a red wine made with white grapes - Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, and 50pc Pinot Noir, which gives it its colour. It's something for the real wine lover."
Amancaya 2013, €16.95 (reduced from €20.95)
This Argentinian Malbec is the result of a joint venture between Argentina’s finest producer, Nicola Catena, and Bordeaux’s Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). Well-structured with lush flavours of blackcurrant, plums and blackberries; the Cabernet in the blend provides a nice backbone of tannins and is rounded off with a well-considered use of oak.
14pc, The Corkscrew, Green Man Wines, Dublin; Bradleys Off-Licence, Cork; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; MacGuinness Wine Merchants, Dundalk
A biodynamic natural wine from the Côtes du Rhône, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault blend has an aromatic nose of rich dark fruit and feral gamey notes. Nicely structured with good tannins and acidity.
La Cuna de la poesía Tempranillo Rioja reserva 2012, €12.95 (reduced from €17.95)
At the lower price, this is a great buy for a classic Rioja Reserva. Good concentration of fruit on the nose with aromas of cherries, black fruit, figs and vanilla. Smooth ripe fruit on the palate with a touch of spice and satisfying finish.
Wirra Wirra Catapult McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, €19
14.5pc, Marks & Spencer
Classic Australian Shiraz blockbuster with ripe, fleshy forest fruit on the nose; this oozes juicy berries and plums on the palate. Spicy complexity is added with notes of bay leaf, aniseed and a touch of chocolate, all wrapped up in cedary oak. Ideal for barbecues.
Radikon Oslavje 2008, €45-€49
13pc, 500ml, Blackrock Cellar, Green Man Wines, Jus de Vine, 64 Wine, all in Dublin
For the more adventurous palate with a love of natural wine, this iconic orange wine from Italy is dark gold, cloudy and brooding. Don’t drink it too cold and you’ll get the complexity of tropical fruit with notes of papaya, good tannins and a lingering finish.
Boyle’s Irish Gin, €24.99
Made by Blackwater Distillery, this is exceptional value for money. Less complex and considerably cheaper than Blackwater, it is still a beautiful craft gin that is streets ahead of the industrial big-brand gins for just a few euro more. Soft, with juniper and coriander aromas, and crisp citrus notes to keep it fresh.
Green Spot Château Léoville Barton Whiskey, €69.95
46pc, Mitchell & Son, mitchellandson.com
A whiskey for special occasions, this is matured initially in American bourbon and sherry casks and then finished in Bordeaux wine casks from the famed Château Léoville Barton. Refined on the palate, with a good balance of oak, spices and a hint of sweet vanilla and caramel, its length of flavour is impressive.
Bodegas LAN, Rioja Reserva 2010, €21.99
13.5pc, Egans Food & Wines; Londis Malahide; Molloys Liquor Store, Clonsilla, all Dublin
Made from 10- to 20-year-old vines by a female winemaker, María Barúa, this full-bodied Rioja has delicious aromas of strawberries, layered with spice and vanilla. Well-structured and generous on the palate, the concentration of fruit and oak combines to deliver a long finish.
Château de Santenay, Mercurey Rouge 2014, €30.99
13pc, The Corkscrew and Clontarf Wines, Dublin
For the Burgundy-loving dad, this delicate wine from the Côte Chalonnaise has a refined nose of ripe red fruit; it’s clean and vibrant on the palate with juicy red cherries, redcurrants, raspberries and a whisper of oak. A crisp, fresh finish.
L’Héritage de Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Médoc, 2008, €32
13.5pc, Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown, and searsons.com
Classic Bordeaux with lots of dark fruit on the nose filled with blackcurrant, plum and hints of violets. Silky smooth on the palate with flavours of cassis, earth and a touch of toast, balanced with good acidity and integrated tannins. Perfect for drinking now.