I can’t, and not just because this is a family newspaper, contribute much to the media hoo-ha that’s been whipped up by the phenomenal success of erotic novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ Unpersuaded by the hype, I’ve not read the book and probably won’t get to see the forthcoming film.
Nevertheless, the bandwagon just keeps on rolling and, this week, I heard news of the recent U.S. release of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ wine collection. Initially, there are two offerings – Red Satin and White Silk.
According to FSOG author, E.L. James, “the wines reflect the sensuality that pervades every encounter between Anastasia and Christian.” However, having read the more objective views of a few of my favoured wine critics , I think it’s probably more accurate to say the wines will really only hit the mark with those especially excited by the masochistic moments in James’s book!
Whilst wading through the damning reviews of the FSOG wines, I came across a reference to a long forgotten, 1950’s erotic novel that, like FSOG, was a real cause celebre in its day. The book, titled ‘The Story of O’ was a publishing sensation but, obviously, 60 years ago there was no such thing as a lucrative wine tie in. Which, part of me, thinks is a bit of a shame as “The Story of O’ is a great name for a range of wines.
After all, there are a whole host of named grape varieties where the emphasis falls firmly on the letter O. Most familiarly, of course, there’s Pinot Grigio but there are also many other lesser known, but far more interesting, grape varieties such as Albarino, Arinto, Montepulciano, Negroamaro, Pecorino, Primitivo and Verdicchio to name but a few. And surely a suggestively elongated strap line such as, “Oooo so good,” could have been employed to good effect. Who knows? I’m not a marketing man and it’s too late now. Either way, here’s a few ‘O’ wine suggestions to consider.
Pinot Grigio is the UK’s most popular grape variety but, in my opinion, interesting Pinot Grigios are very few and far between, as many producers are content simply to ride the cash cow and to go on producing hopelessly bland wines.
Not so, the exuberant Biscardo brothers who produce their Mavum Pinot Grigio Pinot Nero in the hills in the Veneto region of north east Italy. Far from anonymous, the fulsome wine has bags of peachy personality and, unusually, comprises of 15% of red grape variety Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir). Although fantastic on its own, it’s best paired with shellfish and seafood dishes.
Moving south, to Puglia (the heel of Italy), it’s time for a double ‘O’ whammy. A blend of two white grape varieties, Fiano and Greco, the A Mano Fiano Greco is a pale lemon wine showing explosive floral notes, exotic fruit flavours of white peach and apricot, crisp acidity and a refreshing finish. Try it with grilled white fish, pan-fried shellfish or lightly spiced dishes.
After Italy, the country that best serves the adventurous ‘O’ drinker is Portugal. Like Spain, it suffered under a dictatorship until the 1970s and had very little international trade. This proved to be good for the country’s wine industry as its insularity ensured that it never really embraced international grape varieties. So now, Portugal is the proud possessor of over 400 indigenous grape varieties.
One of my favourites is the white grape, Arinto, and I especially love the Arinto produced by Quinta da Raza in the Vinho Verde region in Portugal’s far north. It’s full of minerally smokiness, rather like a Pouilly Fume, and is absolutely delicious with goat’s cheese.