Every man needs to know at least one wine to get themselves out of awkward social situations where they’re required to call the shots. In our new series of the Magnificent Bastard’s Guide To Wine, we take an expert look at some of the greatest wines at man’s disposal.
Our first drop of choice? Pinot Noir.
Widely regarded as the ‘wine geeks’ go-to grape variety, Pinot (pronounced pee-no) is the wine you produce at the dinner table when you are wanting to impress a new flame, your father in law or to show your wino mates that you know a thing or two about decent booze.
It is stubborn, temperamental, notoriously difficult to grow and traditionally tends to flourish in cooler climates due to the delicate nature of the fruits skin and preference to ripen slowly for best results.
Known to bastards like us at this end of the world as Pinot Noir, in the northern hemisphere you’ll hear it called Burgundy because of the region in France that made the varietal famous.
A quick history lesson to add a layer of intelligence to the conversation suggests that the growing of Pinot dates back as far as the first century AD but it was following the French Revolution in the late 18th century when the vineyards of Burgundy were seized from the Church and redistributed amongst local families that it began to exist in the form we know it today.
To this day, the prices paid for absolute Tier 1 Burgundy (think Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) are totally insane.
As any self-confessed wine wanker will attest, it is not until this slinky juice is in the glass and you’ve swirled it around and buried your face into it that you truly begin to appreciate the sexiness of this mysterious varietal. The smell (or ‘nose’ in wine speak) is simply intoxicating.
By way of style, the wine can be produced at different ends of the wine spectrum – there’s the lighter style that is characterised by rhubarb, strawberries and cherries and the darker, broodier, richer style that is more earthy, spicy and dark somewhat stewed fruit. Both styles are amazing in their own right, so you’ll just have to start drinking the stuff to find out which you prefer.
Pinot is absolutely best mates with duck and the ultimate food pairing. Trust me when I say there are not many better combos on this earth, so if you are thinking about ways to score brownie points (or seeing some action in the bedroom), find a recipe for crispy skinned duck breast, some sort of Asian leaning salad or the crowd favourite DIY duck pancakes.
Master one of these in the kitchen and you’ll be on the fast track to legend status!
What To Buy
Navigating your way through French wine can be a bit of a minefield for the common man on the street, so in order to lay your hands on some of the better stuff from our neck of the woods you should be searching for wines from the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania and Adelaide Hills.
Across the ditch the best Pinot’s from NZ come from Central Otago, the Waipara Valley and Martinborough.
How Much To Spend
In years gone by there was a general rule of thumb that said you needed to shell out a minimum of $20 to find half decent Pinot, or be prepared for bitter disappointment.
This I’m glad to report is no longer the case and there is some awesome booze being produced in the sub $20 category – Punt Road, Mike Press Wines and Austin’s 6 foot 6 to name just three. If however you feel like blowing some serious cash and rocking the world of your drinking partner(s) there are some epic Pinot’s from Yabby Lake, Tolpuddle, Ata Rangi and Mt Difficulty for $60+.
Whether you are the dude who wants to start off slow and work your way into it, or the guy who is hanging to reach straight for the top shelf, the best piece of advice I can give is just to get amongst it – to hell with how much you are spending, or how the wine stacks up. It’s the memories, the laughs and the good times that make Pinot memorable.
Buy it, pour it and smash it. Pretty simple system.