I’m no expert
At least once a week, one of my kids asks me one of the several flavours of the ‘what is your favourite’ question. ‘What’s your favourite film of all time?’; ‘What’s your favourite meal ever?’; or ‘What’s your favourite song?’.*
The more difficult follow up question is ‘why?’.
I’m sure I’m not alone in appreciating certain styles of art and genres of music without being able to provide an explanation. I just like what I see and hear, they stir some sort of emotion in me, remind me of happy times or get me singing along.
I feel the same way about wine. I like some wines, I dislike others. Generally if it’s red, white or rosé, served at the right temperature and contains alcohol, I’m good.
Yes, I’ll have another glass, thank you.
I don’t have the vocabulary to explain why I like a certain wine. I obviously do have a nose, but don’t ask me to describe the bouquet. If I recognised the smell of charcoal, I’m not sure I’d want to drink it anyway.
I can’t distinguish an average Merlot from an outstanding Rioja. The second glass always tastes better than the first, so crack on.
I may call myself a maven, but you’ve gathered by now, that’s just for shits and giggles. I’m no expert.
I did hint at this ignorance when Le Petit Ballon asked me if I’d like to review their wine. They seemed cool with it and sent me a box.
Le Petit Ballon
Le Petit Ballon Wine Club offers a carefully curated box of handpicked wines delivered to your door. The emphasis is on quality not quantity – their sommelier selects two wines a month (out of around 10,000 that he tastes).
Fortunately for me, they don’t take themselves too seriously. The information provided with the wine about its provenance is unpretentious, and the tasting notes include suggested foods for pairing and the best way to serve it.
We had friends over for dinner at the weekend, saving me the discomfort of having to drink two bottles of wine on my own, as well as providing the perfect opportunity to cook something new.
We started with a light mixed salad, with mango, avocado and a few naughty bits of bacon.
I built the main course around Jamie Oliver’s delicious recipe for a simple Tarka Dhal with cauliflower. It’s rich, thick and comforting and would provide the ‘sauce’, so the accompanying meat and vegetables could be simple.
I chose a variation on Bombay Chicken – only changed because I forgot to buy Turmeric, so had to improvise with other spices, with a yoghurt and mint dressing. Jamie’s recipe has been recreated all over the interweb so I won’t write it all over again here, but here’s a link to the recipe.
I served it with basmati rice and spinach (not photographed because it just didn’t look pretty!).
The dahl is made with yellow split peas and a whole cauliflower. During the cooking time of 1.5 hours it becomes soft and full-flavoured. I’ve made this dish so many times now, it really deserves a blog post of its own, which will be forthcoming.
And to drink…
The red: Château Val Joanis Les Merises Lubéron
We followed the instructions and decanted the wine into the closest thing we could find to a carafe and let it breathe for an hour before serving. The syrah/grenache was full bodied and fruity and was a perfect accompaniment to a robust Indian meal.
(£11.90 per bottle for Le Petit Ballon subscribers, £14.30 for non-subscribers)
The white: 8 Place du Marche
I like my white wine crisp and dry – Chablis or Sancerre would be my usual choices. I occasionally treat myself to a dessert wine at the other end of the flavour spectrum. This semi sweet Cote-de-Gascogne went well with cheese and dessert, but was too honeyed and fruity for a main meal. I think I’ll stick to the dry stuff.
(£10.90 per bottle for Le Petit Ballon subscribers, £14.30 for non-subscribers)
I’ll drink to that
Unlike other subscription boxes I’ve tried before, I didn’t throw half of the products away! If you like wine, but always go for the same grape, or if you wouldn’t usually be the one holding the wine list in a restaurant, Le Petit Ballon will help you broaden your horizons. Subscription starts at £24.90 per month for two bottles and exclusive discounts on wine.
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*For the record here are the answers to my kids’ questions:
Favourite film: Groundhog Day or The Player or Singing in the Rain or The Man With Two Brains or Dirty Dancing or Blazing Saddles or The Producers (I can’t pick one sorry).
Favourite song: Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode.
Just don’t ask me why.
Much love, Vx[Disclosure: My thanks to Le Petit Ballon who send me a wine box containing 2 bottles of wine in exchange for this honest review.]