It is lunchtime at Red Squirrel HQ and I am drinking. Because it is lunchtime and I am very hip indeed, I am drinking Grignolino, a shimmering, herbal, wild strawberry flecked red from Piedmont, the colour of dark rosé. A perfect lunchtime wine.*
The recent rise in popularity of lighter, fresher styles of red wine has tracked the rise of natural wines, whose vignerons often aim for neckable wines, picking early to go long on primary fruit and acid, and shorting oak, tannin and extraction.**
While this kind of thing would traditionally have been regarded as a hard sell, in fact the recent shift toward them has been quite pronounced in areas with a younger population, particularly in London. In south London I could sell expensive Cru Beaujolais by the case, but struggle to shift hefty Spanish wines at half the price.
It's been a long time coming, so I'll propose a toast to a new wave of fresh non-bollixed-around-with reds. That and having three glasses of wine and a cigarette for lunch.
* The sharper among you will have noticed that the phrase 'lunchtime wine' is tautologous. All wines are suitable for lunch. 'Breakfast wine' on the other hand is a valid term, as there are certain types of dry fortified wine that are entirely unsuited to the breakfast table.
** This is both a stylistic decision, and one necessitated when trying to work with low levels of sulphur. The lower a wine's pH the higher the proportion of free, unbound sulphur.
by Oli North