Archive for October, 2008

Decanter reported that UK wine drinkers are cutting the amount they spend on a bottle, with price now the most important factor in buying wine, according to a new survey.

A WineIntelligence poll of 1,000 wine drinkers found that the number of people willing to spend £5–£6 on a bottle of wine had dropped by 5% in the past three months.

There has been a corresponding increase in those paying less than £5 for a bottle.

Pubs and restaurants have also registered a downturn in sales of more expensive wines. According to the survey, customers are buying more and more wines under £12 – again, there was a corresponding drop in the higher price levels.

The study, commissioned by the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), also found that grape variety had been overtaken by price promotions as the most important factor for consumers in choosing wines.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the WSTA, said the impending economic crisis was to blame.

Retailers have reacted by focusing on value for money wines. ASDA, the fastest-growing wine retailer in the UK, recently announced an exclusive value-for-money wine deal. ASDA indicated that the new value-for-money range will be launched under the Arniston Bay brand. This easy drinking South African wine will launch 3 wines exclusively to ASDA.

The exclusive The Reef range includes: The Reef Red 2007, The Reef White 2008 and The Reef Rosé 2008.

“The Reef is a wine range which represents really great value for money,” said brand and business development manager Barney Davis.

Source: Decanter


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Wine writer, Neil Pendock, and publishers of The Platter Guide are embroiled in a heated debate about the pros and cons of blind versus sighted tastings.

 Pendock indicates that the Platter tasting methods (sighted) are not fair and the tasters are influenced by preconceived ideas about regions, brands and prices etc.

Phillip van Zyl, the editor of the John Platter guide, argues that “sighted tasting is a perfectly legitimate approach, which serves as a useful tool for gaining a deeper and more nuanced understanding of a wine”.

Arniston winemaker, Abraham de Villiers, comments on the topic:

 “I would definitely agree that the only fair way to conduct any tasting is to do it blind. In many cases packaging and to a certain extent “estate name and reputation” plays an important part in judging a wine sighted before it even has been tasted.

 “Especially for a novice South African wine drinker who uses the Platter Guide as a indicator of wine quality, it is even more important that the guide be accurate in their wine ratings and not judge a wine on packaging, ‘looks’ and reputation.

  “Any good rating is always a good marketing tool in any format.”


Source: The Times

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Some food and wine connoisseurs have made food and wine pairing so rigid that they are missing the point completely. Traditionally, certain wines are recommended to be served with certain dishes. The “rules” state that red wine will complement red meat, while white wine is recommended with fish or fowl.

Some people who are not huge fans of white wine, instead, prefer a Pinot Noir – which is a light-bodied red wine – with salmon or fish. If someone does not particularly enjoy red wine, you simply can’t force them to pair a Cabernet with steak.

New food and wine pairings are all about bending the rules to suit your palate. For example, uniquely South African Pinotage with medium body is also delicious served with seafood such as salmon. The Arniston Bay Pinotage 2006 with its sweet vanilla tone, savoury flavours and good balance complements seafood far better than most Cabernet Sauvignons as it is a light-bodied wine.

The only “rule” to remember is to match the wine intensity or body with the flavour of the food so that the wine does not overpower the food, or vice versa. Even a so-called untrained palate seeks what it likes – trust your tastebuds and mix and match until you find something that you enjoy. Rules? You know what to do them! Wine is simply something that must be enjoyed – regardless of perfect pairings.

Source: pioneerlocal.com

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Sparkling wine has become a more popular any occasion drink and it has shed the image of being exclusively consumed as a celebration drink.

Bennet Bodensteain wrote that one of the great pities of the wine world is that some how, some way, sparkling wines have gotten the reputation of being associated only with celebrations. Stuff and nonsense! The most probable reason is that in the past, sparkling wines were expensive and presenting them at an important event indicated the extreme in luxury.

That was then, this is now and there are many sparkling wines on the market that are of excellent quality and are extremely affordable. Sparkling wines are the perfect accompaniment to almost any meal, from filet mignon to meat loaf. Where wine can add elegance to a meal, sparkling wines will add opulence.

South African and Australian wine producers have perfected the manufacture of sparkling wines and are now producing them at very reasonable prices, making them readily available to one and all. These are wines that should be considered in place of “the usual suspects” to grace your table during the upcoming holiday season.

The Arniston Bay Charmat Brut is a perfectly manufactured sparkling wine. It has elegant, zesty tropical fruit flavours with fresh bubbles and a clean, crisp finish. Serve well chilled as an aperitif or own its own regardless of the occasion.

Source: sun-sentinel.com

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While in Cape Town, South Africa for Cape Wine 2008, Reva Singh interviewed the CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Su Birch. She discussed the South African wine market and how the show has evolved over the years.

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is a fully inclusive body, representing all South African producers of wine who export their products.

Source: Sommelier India

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Recipe: Lamb Chops With Lemon And Olives

This delicious recipe, sourced from Real Simple magazine, is easy to make and is guaranteed to be a mouth-watering treat for dinner guests.

The Arniston Bay Shiraz 2007 is ideal when paired with this meal. This wine – with its intense purple colour – contains scents of wild strawberry, mocha, and caramel with touches of sage and rosemary. The flavors burst through with intense blueberry and strawberry jam notes wrapped around rich French oak and finishing with touches of chocolate and sweetened cranberries.

Recipe: Lamb Chops With Lemon And Olives

Serves 4

Hands-on time 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours


1 kilogram lamb chops or knuckles (if using chops, ask your butcher to cut them in half if you like)
½ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups dry white wine (the delicious, good-value-for-money Arniston Bay Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 is a good option)
2 cups chicken stock
juice and zest of half a lemon
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
10 black olives
2 baby fennel bulbs, halved


Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Coat the lamb with the flour and shake off the excess. In a frying pan over high heat, heat the oil and brown the lamb well.

Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and place in a large casserole dish. Fry the onions and garlic until golden and add to the casserole dish. Pour over the wine, stock, lemon juice and zest, bay leaves, thyme and olives. Cover tightly (use foil if your dish doesn’t have a lid) and bake for 1 hour. Add the fennel and bake for a further 40 minutes. Serve with soft polenta or mash.

From: Real Simple Magazine

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The economic crisis has changed the buying habits of American wine consumers. Consumers are looking for value wine and more wine will by purchased in retailing outlets and not restaurants, states Michelle Locke from the Associated Press.

In her article she refers to statements by Wilfred Wong and Prof Robert Smiley about the changing consumer habits.

Wong, cellar master for the Concord-based chain Beverages & more!, usually tastes 8 000 wines a year in search of products. But this year he’s up to 10 000 because of the pressure to find good wines at lower prices.

“The consumer has definitely changed buying habits,” says Wong. “They are buying wines, which is good for us, but they are being more careful. People don’t need another $50 cabernet. What they need is a really good wine at $10.”

So far, the effect of the economy on the wine industry is “a mixed picture right now,” says Robert Smiley, a management professor and director of wine studies at the University of California, Davis.

For instance, recent research by The Nielsen Company indicates that although restaurants and bars see a decline in business during faltering economies, the affect is milder on store sales, although there’s evidence shoppers look for better prices.

So, a winery could lose restaurant business but make that up in retail sales. Meanwhile, a consumer price trade-down could mean trouble for wines over $15 a bottle and a bonus for lower-priced brands.

With the economy swinging wildly from day-to-day, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions. But Nielsen figures from U.S. food, drug, and major market liquor stores as of late last month showed 8.3 million cases of wine (a total of about $591 million) were sold for the four weeks ending Sept. 20, up nearly 3 percent from the same period a year ago.

Source: The Mercury News

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