A Story of Wine

I like to think that every glass of wine tells a story.

Some are a short story. Catchy, punchy, to the point. Some are epic works, demanding your attention and rewarding it in return. Others are pulp fiction.

The best will capture your imagination.


Most are stories of people. A hand that cared for the vine, the mind that chose to plant here and not there, and what. When. Someone that made this wine’s story special.

Some are stories of place. Seams of stone running through the bedrock. A mountain protector sheltering from rain. A chance of nature that made this wine’s story unique.

Not all stories are grand. The humblest origins belie a wine of great character. Some are mysteries, thrillers. Others are mundane tales; an enjoyable yarn to spin of an evening, no more.


All are stories of time. A gentle rest that irrevocably altered the wine. Time’s reach is long, and frames the tale of every drop, every glass, every bottle.

I like to believe that stories hold a kind of magic. They enthral us, they move us, they thrill us and claim with a spark, a splash, a scent.

The flicker of film as it spins in the reel when the precious liquid catches the light. Shades from gold to deepest purple cast reflections around you. They tell you of time.


From the moment the cork is pulled, the cap twisted, the story is revealed before you. Each swirl in the glass, each tumbling drop as it pours. The wave as it strikes the wine cup, releasing a torrent of aromas sparking stories of their own, like pages turning in a book.

The words speak as wine washes over your lips and dances over your tongue. Unveiled, the story rushes over you. Scents and flavours breathe life.

They tell you of place. Of what. Of where. Of how. The story unfolds and the truth of the wine is revealed.

Every glass of wine tells a story. What story is in yours?

A Story of Wine

Two-Course Meal for Two with Half a Bottle of Wine and Leisure Pass

Even the keenest of cooks needs a day off every now and again. Make the most of your time out the kitchen and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour with a meal at The Regency Hotel. For £29 (up to an £65.30 value) two people will enjoy a two-course meal with wine and a leisure club pass. • Enjoy a main course and your choice of starter or dessert, and a half bottle of wine to share. • Why not start with the treacle and lemon cured salmon with apple purée, or asparagus with feta cheese and crispy bacon? • Mains include pan-fried pork fillet with a mustard crust; duck breast with duck leg sausage rolls, and fondant potato; and bean cassoulet with almond-crusted goat’s cheese. • If you opt for a dessert, then satisfy your sweet tooth with blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake or set vanilla cream with English strawberries and basil shortbread. • Your leisure pass means you can relax with a dip in the pool or work up an appetite in the fully equipped gym. • Please note you must use your leisure pass on the same day as your meal. • The contemporary hotel is ideally situated close to Birmingham, Warwick, and Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as many local attractions. Looking to give something special? Discover hundreds of thoughtful, unique presents for everyone on your list — visit our Gift Shop! You can earn Tesco Clubcard points with your eligible LivingSocial purchases! Find out more.

Ivan’s Food and Wine Pairing Secrets

The rules and guidelines for wine and food pairing are subjective and often contradictory. Over the years a lot of rules, basic and not, have been developed. We forgot the golden rule: personal preference is what makes wine work its magic. There is no need to remember pairings between sophisticated dishes and sophisticated wines.

Instead, don’t fall for these 3 myths and you will enjoy wine and food pairings at their best!

Well-known metaphors…

“Red wine with red meat” and “light wines with light dishes”. Heard it before? These are the most known metaphors in food and wine pairing. Indeed, most of the time they work well.

That said, pairing Gamay with a juicy steak won’t show either at their best. An off-dry Pinot Gris will not be the best option for a Chicken Supreme.

Juicy, tasty steak

The message here is simple: these metaphors don’t always work. One of the best ways to avoid these is to think about what king of food is eaten where the wine is produced. For example, Cahors in France is famous for intense Malbec-based wines. This wine is an exceptional pair to the local light trout speciality. Red wine and fish? Who knew.

For best results add Loire wines.

For best results add Loire wines.

The Loire Valley in France is famous for cheese and white wines which go well with them. Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé are superb options to complement delicate goats cheese.

Sweet, sour, bitter and salty…

A little biology lesson from school: our tongue is divided into 4 zones – sweet, sour, bitter and salty. This is not the entire picture. One more taste that our tongue can pick up is umami.

Umami is a taste of glutamates. One of the best ways to describe it is to think of the taste of sushi seaweed. This taste has a great knock on effect on the food and wine pairings. Most of day-to-day foods contain umami. Mushrooms, for example, are umami taste bombs.

To avoid disappointment in pairing wines with umami foods remember this advice:

Umami does not get along with oak flavours. Try to avoid high priced white chardonnays when eating a lot of umami flavor products. Instead, pick lighter wines.

Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.

Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.

Heavily tannic wine is also not good with umami. That’s why older Bordeaux is a popular match with hard cheeses; with time, tannin softens. Try drinking young claret with sweet and sour chicken, though, and you’ll enjoy neither!

Intense fruity wines are also to be avoided with umami. Instead, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Loire Muscadet or Umbria Orvieto will pair with umami dishes at their best.

The sweeter the better…

Many people like to drink fruitier and sweeter styles of wine. Which is, by the way, absolutely fine, just think about a rich German Riesling. Yet, in food and wine pairing sweeter is not better. Sweeter styles of wine are hard to pair and these are definitely not an option for a lamb steak.

If you do enjoy sweeter wines and maybe even like to order a glass of dessert wine, pair it with pudding. They also work well with spicier dishes, such as Thai or Asian. Richer, full-bodied sweet wine also has the body and acidity to complement rich paté.

If you need some tips on food and wine matching, just ask one of our staff in store. Join us for a free in-store wine course and learn all about the mysteries of food and wine matching!

Ivan’s Food and Wine Pairing Secrets

The Best BBQ – Wine Fundamentals

Choosing the best wines for your BBQ isn’t as hard as you might think.  There are some great tricks you can use to make sure you and your friends enjoy great wine with your delicious chargrilled barbecued food.

summer BBQ

Tip 1: Keep it simple

There are a lot of flavours to think about in your average BBQ.  Burgers? Check. Fish? Check. Sausages? Check. Chicken? Check. Vegetable skewers? Check. Glazes? Check. Marinades? Check. Sauces? Check. Salad? Check.

You’d need a full cellar of options if you go looking for the perfect match to everything.  So don’t fret it. Go for a white and a red. Or be maverick and go pink.

Tip 2: Don’t go overboard

On that topic, there’s no need to go large on price – just large on flavour. Fine wines would be a waste, their nuances lost to all the big BBQ char and sweetness.  £10 per bottle should be the top end of your budget. Unless you want to. Or its a big bottle.

Tip 3: Beer or Wine?

Nothing wrong with having both on hand, everybody likes different things.    Beer is a great palate cleanser, and so is sparkling wine. Keeping some fizz on hand is a good shout for those who don’t fancy beer.

Tip 4: What wine?

Full bodied, juicy reds.  Grenache, Malbec, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Tempranillo (so, Rioja then – or Ribera Del Duero) and Barberas for the red.

For white wine, bit more variable.  For chicken and white meat go for New World Chardonnay or Viognier. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is great if you’ve got herby salads and feta.  For seafood, lean towards something dazzling: Albarino, Picpoul de Pinet, or Provence Rosé.

To make things even easier, we’ve put together a list of some of our best picks for your summer BBQ.  And the best part? All of these are sub-£10 (or equivalent) this summer!


Las Maletas Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – Get it here

Taste: Gentle toasted wood, smoke, vanilla and clove, layered over soft plum and damson. It’s rich and mouth-filling but never heavy.

Enjoy It With: The stereotypical answer to Malbec is steak. This is a great BBQ wine and a real crowd-pleaser. Serve with friends and soak up the adulation.

Know Thy Wine: Las Maletas means “the suitcases”. It is part of a collection of wines that take in the best Argentina has to offer.  Pack your suitcase, put on your hat and be ready to indulge your wanderlust.


Papa Luna 2012, Calatayud, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Thick and juicy black cherries with raspberry compote. Rounded and full with a spicy finish and nice grippy tannins.

Enjoy It With: Chargrilled meats – this is Grenache at its most versatile.  Brilliant with burgers, superb with steak, lovely with lamb.

Know Thy Wine: Papa Luna is the work of ‘El Escoces Volante’ Norrel Robertson MW.  The ‘Flying Scotsman’ hails from Fife and makes fantastic wine in Spain.  You’ll find the Crescent Moon of Papa Luna – Pope Benedict XIII – atop the University of St Andrews coat of arms.


Old Vine Zinfandel, Ravenswood, Lodi, California – Get it here

Taste: Ripe black cherry, currants and brambles with vanilla abound.  A rounded mouthful with plenty of body, and a lick of clove to finish.

Enjoy It With: There’s nothing subtle about this wine, so forget delicate flavours.  But then, it’s a BBQ.  Which is the point. Drink and enjoy!

Know Thy Wine: Ravenswood’s motto is ‘No Wimpy Wines’ and this wine exemplifies their philosophy. Lodi County is home to some of the oldest vines in California – their gnarled branches produce some gnarly wines!


Rioja Reserva 2009, Lagunilla, Rioja, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Silky smooth ripe strawberry and raspberry, with lashings of coconut, toast and vanilla.  Soft tannins and refreshing acidity.

Enjoy It With: Juicy, thick, fatty lamb burgers. Or super healthy vegetable skewers if you must.  Surprisingly good with meaty fish.

Know Thy Wine: Don Felipe Lagunilla (for it is he) founded his bodega in 1885.  He was the first to use American rootstocks to graft vines following phylloxera.  As a reward for his pioneering work in Rioja, he gained the title Commendador.


Gran Reserva Chardonnay, Vina Luis Felipe Edwards, Casablanca, Chile – Get it here

Taste: Ripe peach, mango and pineapple atop a layer of dessert apple drizzled with fresh lemon.  On toast. With butter. Unsalted.

Enjoy It With: Sounds big, but is actually pretty refreshing.  Got white meat? Get this wine. Also great with sweeter sauces and good with hot spice.

Know Thy Wine: Luis Felipe Edwards Sr. bought the estate in 1976. They are now the largest 100% family owned winery in Chile. Apparently, the Gran Reserva range is what the family keep for special occasions.  Are BBQs are special enough?  We think so.


Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Brancott Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand – Get it here

Taste: A huge unsubtle gooseberry bush slapping you in the face with its deliciousness. Passionfruit, lemon, lime and fresh apple.  In the garden with grass stains on otherwise clean white shoes.

Enjoy It With: Prawns with chilli, salad with tomatoes. Or quaff while waiting for either.

Know Thy Wine: Brancott  planted the first Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough back in 1973.  On another note, the Brancott wine boxes are a pain to display bottles on top of.  Help a store manager, buy all their stock.


Albarino As Caixas 2013, Martin Codax, Rias Baixas, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Millions of peaches, peaches and cream. With fresh apricot, lemons, and pears diced on top.

Enjoy It With: Squid. Which you probably won’t have on the barbie. Shrimps, though. And chicken. And pork. And grilled veggies.

Know Thy Wine: Caixas are crates into which grapes go.  Grapes which some Majestic staff might well have helped pick.  A few lucky store members head out to help with the harvest every year.


Aix En Provence Rosé Magnum 2014, Aix En Provence, France – Get it here

Taste: Fresh strawberries with rose petal and red apple.  Mouth-filling, refreshing and pink.

Enjoy It With: More flexible than a ballerina, Rosé wine is great with many foods.  Have it with everything.

Know Thy Wine: It comes in a magnum for double the fun.  Technically this is not sub-£10, but it’s two bottles in one so we think it counts.

Happy charring! You can pick up all these wines and more in store or online at majestic.co.uk.

The Best BBQ – Wine Fundamentals

Full-Day Wine Tasting Session with Three-Course Lunch at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill for One (£85) or Two (£170) People

Support Birmingham Children’s Hospital by purchasing this Local Hero deal: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade — but when Into The Blue gives you wine, all you need to do is grab it as quickly as possible. • For £85 receive a full-day wine tasting session, including a three-course lunch at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill. • For £170 receive the same delicious offer for two people. • The experience takes place at The Cube, the most impressive recent addition to the Birmingham skyline, designed by celebrated local architect Ken Shuttleworth. • You’ll be transported to the very top floor, which boasts panoramic views across the city, for an introduction to the basics of wine tasting. • Throughout the day you’ll sample around 18 wines of all colours and vintages, and learn how to match the different wines to food. • Your three-course meal at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill features a different wine for each course, and a menu specially curated for your experience. • Running from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., this day out makes the perfect day out for the oenophile or food lover in your life. • Available on selected Saturdays — please contact the merchant for dates. • Buy and share this deal, and you could get it for free with Me+3! • For every purchase of this deal, we’ll donate £1 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a great local charity. Looking to give something special? Discover hundreds of thoughtful, unique presents for everyone on your list — visit our Gift Shop! You can earn Tesco Clubcard points with your eligible LivingSocial purchases! Find out more.

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