Drinks writer, Jane Clare, of One Foot in the Grapes offers her insight into sparkling wines
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F is for fino, fizz and... the joys of homebrew beer?
I’m back with my alphabetti spaghetti of drink-related randomness. For those of you new to the task I’ve set myself, it is this: To pick a letter a week in alphabetical order and string some sentences together within a drinks’ theme.
I began a handful of weeks ago with the letter A and I’ll conclude it a few weeks hence with the letter Z.
This week I’m using the letter “F” quite a few times as the focus, the frontrunner, the “fancy that”, the foray into the feast of fabulousness of … ok I’ll just get on with it.
The letter F, plays its part in quite an important word – it stands at the beginning of the word fermentation.
Without that 12-letter function there wouldn’t be any wine, or spirits, or beer. Let’s raise a tipple to the yeasts and the sugars and the raw materials which form a scientific partnership to bring us that exact same toast of a tipple.
Many moons ago, much to my mum’s disappointment and my dad’s “that’s my girl” nods of approval, I began brewing my own beer.
This little exercise began with a huge bucket full of water, malt, hops and sugar in the kitchen; finished with some glass bottles full of beer in the spare room; and had an inbetweenie bit which included sterilising those same R Whites lemonade bottles in the bath.
I had a mini-production line.
I was never going to be Moorhouses, but a couple of nice little home brew shops in Burnley and Nelson (plus friends who liked beer) kept me very busy indeed.
It wasn’t the classiest way to spend my late teens, and I’ve not raised the classiness bar since.
Fast forward a handful of years (*coughs*) and back to my F for fermentation.
I remember peeping under the bucket lids to watch the brewing fermentation action.
Nowadays, if I amble in a winery at the right time of year I’ll geekily touch a tank to feel the heat of the fermentation within.
Boy, those yeasts have a hot time. Thank goodness for that special F, fermentation.
There’s also bubbles a go-go for my next F-word –
It’s a simple F to remember, and it’s an F about another F – that of fizz. Frizzante means “semi-sparkling” as opposed to “spumante” which means fully sparkling.
A couple of seconds ago (this is a live event, this writing thing) I Googled the word “spumante” and discovered that it comes from the Latin word “spumare” which means to foam, or froth.
If you read “spumante” on a bottle of sparkling wine it is fully-sparkling. If you see the word “frizzante” then the wine has bubbles, but they’re more low-key, shy, and not as plentiful.
I remember which is which by thinking a frizzante wine “fizzles out” – but it’s no less enjoyable.
I’m now heading for stop-offs in Italy and Spain. Which is probably the only European travel I’ll enjoy all year.
I want to nudge you towards an Italian grape variety which has the letter F as its starting point. Fiano, from the south of the country, can produce wines with a textured, nutty, honeyed, mouthfeel. It’s a go-to Italian white wine if you fancy something with a bit of character.
Now to my stopover in Spain and a fino sherry. I have some padron peppers in the kitchen and a bottle of genty chilling Tio Pepe Fino (widely available). When this piece is F for finished (not long now) I’ll be heading in their direction to combine them into a cheeky evening treat.
I love the cool, almond, savouriness of a glass of fino with the frizzled fried peppers, dashed and flashed in hot olive oil. Simply bliss.
Gee. Next time it’s the letter G. See you then.
This Sunday we should raise a glass to dads on Father’s Day, even if we can’t hug them; and especially if all we have are memories. My dad liked a glass of beer and was very keen on blackcurrant and liquorice toffees.
Perhaps your dad has his likes and loves too.
Maybe it’s a whisky. In that case, Aldi could be a destination for you as three of their whiskies won gold at the Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters.
The judges awarded golden gongs to Highland Black 8yr Old Scotch Whisky (£12.99), Glen Marnoch Highlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky (£17.49) and Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky (£17.49). Cheers.