Claret isn't just for old men with gout: 5 ways to drink Bordeaux now
Your dad drinks claret. So does your poncy wine-snob friend, Archie - and that guy who took you to a Berry's tasting on your first date and ended up getting pissed on the free samples and throwing up cheese in Vincent Square.
Claret, AKA 'Bordeaux', enjoys a rarefied status in the world of wine drinkers. The name refers to the legendary colour of the region's famous reds as is at once a benchmark - and an unfeasible aspiration for the average wine drinker. First Growths are priced out of the ordinary mortal's reach and it's a drink that will seemingly always be associated with the sort of wine wankers who dribble on their Cordings shirts.
It doesn't seem cool. It's definitely not sexy.
Hold the front page - I'm here to reveal five ways you can bring this fusty old boy out of the closet and bang up to date.
1. Try it with fish
I know, I know - we're going off script. Fish wants white. But visit Bordeaux in the summer and you'll be hard pushed to avoid local fish dishes, and equally hard pushed to avoid the glass of red which goes with it. Trust me - it works. And it'll make you look like a serious kitchen savant.
2. White = wonderful
Everyone's sick of Sauvignon Blanc, aren't they? They've ODed on Marlborough Sav and Sancerre's for Sunday lunch with the fam - but I cannot implore you enough to give Bordeaux's dry whites a whirl. I can always pick them out of lineup because I think they always have a whiff of nougat and lime. They're totally moreish, a whole (second mortage) cheaper than the reds and wildy diverse. (Try a barrel fermented one - just do it).
3. Whack it in an ice bucket
I know we were just talking about whites - but here I'm talking about reds again. Seems counter-intuitive? Everyone knows you're meant to serve reds at room temperature - the only problem being that the 'room temperature' people are referring to here is one pre-central heating. When they're too warm, even formidably structured Left Bank Bordeauxs can taste a bit muddled - so stick it in the fridge or cool it in an ice bucket to let those heady, delicate aromas shine.
4. Hit up the Côtes de Francs
Full disclosure - I'm completely biased. I visited Côtes de Francs sort of by accident last year on a tour of Saint-Émilion and the wines you can find are just brilliant. They tend to be plummy and rich with Merlot, fragrant with Cabernet Franc - just like their expensive neighbours in Saint-Émilion - though if you're lucky, you'll find one with a hit of syrupy Malbec.
5. Try it with a bacon sarnie
Seriously expensive wine and a breakfast bap? Bear with me. When you have a really serous wine, quite often you don't want food that will adulterature it too much. A crisp, protein-rich bacon sandwich is perfect: tannin and protein are a match made in heaven.