Wine is a drink loved all over the world. Some people like a glass from time to time whilst others are fanatical about seeking the perfect glass of white or red. I’m not the biggest of drinkers and before I went travelling, wine for me was certainly not on my radar. It wasn’t my drink of choice and I definitely didn’t appreciate quality, taste or the difference between countries!
During my travels over the last year, I had the opportunity to not only sample wines from some of the world’s best regions but also live in these areas with local families. One very memorable region is the Yea Valley close to Melbourne in Australia.
In the Yea Valley, I stayed with an amazing family who live on their own vineyard, pick and produce their own wine and also have a sourdough bakery on site. I was just a little bit in heaven! From the minute I set foot inside the house door, I was treated to a sample of each variety of wine Philip Lobley produces. Needless to say there were wines I didn’t like but also plenty I did. That’s the thing about wine; it is extremely individual to you and it takes some time to discover exactly what your taste is.
So that’s why when I received an invite to attend and offer my readers tickets to this year’s O’Briens Wine Winter Festival in aid of the Jack & Jill Foundation I jumped at the opportunity! Some of my friends had gone on previous occasions and I had heard only good things. However, I don’t think you can really describe the event until you witness it first-hand so I’ll do my best to give it justice here.
With over sixty vineyards to sample, needless to say within fifteen minutes of the doors at the Dublin Castle venue opening the room was heaving with people. On arrival, every guest received a complimentary Tipperary Crystal wine glass to not only use for sampling but to also take home. This glass is your lifeline for the night, as you taste, rinse and taste again. There is plenty of swirling, sniffing and sampling as everyone makes their way from table to table.
Learning from the Best
With so many vineyards to taste and over ten countries represented, you can easily lose your way and miss out on some of the best wines on offer. A number of master classes were offered every night and I attended one with an Italian winemaker. Over the course of twenty minutes Cantine Asheri Giacomo – talked us through sampling three of his favourite wines. This is a great way to develop your appreciation for difference in variety and learn what types of food would work well with each wine.
This is an event for everyone and perfect for those looking to stock up on wine for Christmas or for that special occasion like a wedding. Where else would you be able to sample such a selection of wine in one evening?!
What really impressed me was the price range of the wines on selection. The majority of wines were priced under €20 with some bottles even coming in under €9 and all available in O’Briens Wine stores nationwide and online.
Wines of the Night
My favourite wines of the night were hard to choose but I did discover that I loved the most expensive wine in the room!! A deep red from Spanish vineyard Marques de Murrieta – the Castillo Gran Reserva was delicious. I even snuck back for a second sample as it costs €85 and well outside my budget. This red is now currently top of my Christmas wish list.
Other favourites were the Chenin Blanc from South Africa vineyard Bellow’s Rock and any of the Rieslings from the Lingenfelder vineyard in Germany. The Lingenfelder family are steeped in wine and even allowed me to try my hand at being a sommelier.
Will I Be Back?
Word of warning for anyone attending the next O’Briens Wine event – eat before you go or else bring your own cheese platter like many of the guests did. Clearly not their first time attending one of the events!
Without a doubt I’ll be back to the next O’Briens Wine Fair, with my cheese board and a gang of friends!
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