My sons Rory and Ewan don’t live at home any more, but we meet about once a week, usually either at my house or their dad’s. Yes, a little unusual, but since our divorce my ex and I have been keen to stay friends and enjoy fairly regular family meals with our boys. Good food and drink was always important in our house (both sons are now working as chefs in London – Rory at Moro and Ewan at the Laughing Heart), and it’s a joy to continue sharing those pleasures. What’s especially delicious is when one of them cooks. I love it when I’ve started the food prep and then a son swings in and says, ‘Oh Mum, just relax and fix the drinks – I’ll take over now.’ I don’t have to be told twice.
I used to be a red-only girl in my youth, but over the years I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to better quality whites, and am now at the point where I’ll usually favour a white over a red, particularly to kick off a meal. At the beginning of my relationship with white wine, I was a massive fan of sauvignon blanc, particularly from New Zealand. I must have overdone it because now I can’t stand the stuff – even the smell turns my stomach – and have reached the point of requesting people not to bring it to my house. I’ve even put my friend Alison off it!
The phrase blithely uttered from so many mouths when a glass of wine is ordered, ‘ABC – anything but chardonnay’, drives me quite mad. One of my friends came out with it recently in a wine bar. I asked her if she would like a Chablis instead… yes, she replied, that would be fine. Well, I didn’t exactly wipe the floor with her, but gently explained that in fact Chablis is made from the chardonnay grape, and is a far cry from the leaden, oaky, headache-inducing stuff from the New World.
It was a lightbulb moment for her when she realised this, and now she’s an out and proud chardonnay drinker (and hopefully spreading the good news to others).
Both sons prefer red wine over white or rosé (mind you, I’ve yet to witness them pass up a glass of champagne). And of course, in the absence of any red, they would somehow manage to get a white over their throats.
The good news is that through working in quality restaurants they are exposed to good wines, and so both of them are slowly, slowly beginning to appreciate bottles of a different hue from red. Over the past few (hot) weeks they’ve enjoyed 2015 The Foundry Grenache Blanc (£14), a full-bodied, rich and creamy (but not too forceful) white from Stellenbosch.
The boys’ dad is a big Riesling fan so they’ve tried a few over the years and were very complimentary about 2015 Fritz’s Riesling, Gunderloch (£10). Fresh and citrusy, they declared, and both agreed that it would pair well with spicy snacks.
I kept as a birthday treat for Rory a bottle of 2014 Sonoma County Seghesio Zinfandel (£23). It’s a biggie – 15 percent – and right up my boys’ alley: juicy, dark and fruity. Full-bodied with lots of elegance, it ticked their boxes big-time.