Frequently Asked Questions
Village Wines was established in 1984 and is still owned and run by the same family partnership.
There is no minimum quantity. However you may wish to consider the cost of delivery when ordering small amounts.
We use Fastway Couriers a national carrier who have won awards for the high quality service that they provide.
Birthdays and Christmas, weddings and parties often call for special bottles or large quantities of wine and for advance planning. Some general suggestions are given here.
Sparkling wines from other parts of France or the New World can offer comparable quality at half the price of champagne and often have a fruitier flavour that suits many people better. Spanish Cava is even more affordable. Otherwise you could serve refreshing whites - maybe some tangy Sauvignon Blanc, grapy Alsace Gewurztraminer or some Alsace Pinot Blanc.
The wine-and-food rule book went out of the window years ago, so don't fret too much about finding the ideal wine to partner a particular dish, just savour the moment when you do come across a perfect combination. With a little bit of thought you can find a wide range of wines that will be happy enough beside your meal; genuinely unpleasant clashes are mercifully rare.
Matches made in Heaven
For a taste of the best food-and-wine combinations, eat fresh-cooked prawns or langoustine with a buttery Chardonnay; goat's cheese with Sancerre; lamb and rosemary with top Bordeaux; Sauternes with Rocquefort cheese; fino sherry with sushi and port with Stilton. Plus, if you get the chance, champagne and oysters.
The foods listed below can make the majority of wines taste dull or harsh – but these combinations will see you through.
- Eggs Try a not-too-oaky Chardonnay.
- Tomatoes Try matching the acidity of the tomatowith Sauvignon Blanc
- Smoked fish Smoked salmon is fine with Chablis or champagne. With oilier fish (mackerel, kippers) go for something lighter still and more acidic such as Sauvignon or Muscadet – or try fino sherry
- Chinese and Thai food Crisp, aromatic whites are the best accompaniment – Riesling, Alsace Gewurztraminer or (especially when there is lemongrass in the dish) New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Light reds such as Pinot Noir are also a possibility.
- Indian food Richly flavoured New World whites such as Chardonnay, Semillon or Verdelho are excellent, or try New World Zinfandel, Shiraz or Merlot.
- Chocolate Dessert Muscat wines are the best bet or try ripe New World Cabernet Sauvignon with dark chocolate.
- Puddings and cakes Match the sweetness in the wine to that in the food. Sweet, frothy Asti is a good alternative to sticky dessert wines. Rivesaltes dessert red also goes very well with all chocolate based puddings and cakes.
Breathing and decanting
There is no great mystery here; when a bottle is opened the wine starts to react with oxygen in the air and this helps to release the aromas and flavours in the wine - although after time (minutes, hours or even days, depending on the wine) it will tire and lose its character. There is no need for breathing or decanting with cheap-and-cheerful bottles or with wines that are meant to taste fresh and zippy, but complex and heavyweight wines - both red and white - can really shine with a bit of aeration.
Simply uncorking the bottle has very little immediate effect, it is much better to pour off a glass to expose a larger surface area. Sloshing the wine into a decanter, carafe or jug has a significantly more dramatic impact - but don't do this with expensive old wines. Remember that wine keeps on breathing in the glass and a quick swirl does a lot to release the aromas.
Decanting also separates the wine from sediment in the bottle and is most likely to be encountered when dealing with vintage port. Stand the bottle upright for a day or more to allow the sediment to settle, then pull the cork very gently. Set up a lamp or torch to shine through the neck of the bottle as you pour the wine slowly into a decanter or a jug. Stop pouring as soon as you see the sediment flowing into the neck.
The flavours of wine fall apart when it is too warm, and equally they can be impenetrable when it is too cold. The ideal temperature depends on the style of the wine. Normal room temperature (20oC) suits only the fullest-flavoured reds and fortified wines. The lightest reds and rosés should be served cool (around 12oC), but not very chilled unless it's a blazing summer's day. Not all whites need to be chilled; indeed complex full-bodied whites should be only gently cooled. Save the heavy fridge treatment for light, neutral or very fresh-flavoured whites, fino sherry and, of course, champagne styles.
If you need to cool a bottle in a hurry, you can use an ice bucket filled half with ice, half with water. A couple of big spoonfuls of salt in the mix will make it even more effective. If a wine needs warming the best approach is to pour it and cradle a glass in your hands.
Wine won't lose all its flavour overnight, especially if the bottle is still fairly full. Re-cork any leftover bottles and pop them in the fridge for finishing over the next two or three days. You could consider buying half bottles to reduce the amount of excess wine. Special devices to suck out the air, such as the Vacuvin system, do help, as do the ones that deposit a blanket of neutral gas (for example Wine Saver), but they're not strictly necessary.
Most wines are intended for drinking, not for long-term cellaring and are best consumed within a couple of years of production. None the less, any wine that you store in your home for more than a few days will benefit from being properly kept. There is no need to dig out a cellar or buy an expensive storage cabinet, but some common principles apply.
Wine is happiest when it is in a cool, dark place free from sudden changes in temperature. So at the very least avoid stashing it on a kitchen windowsill or close to a radiator and it should be content for a few weeks. But don't store it in the fridge as the flavours tend to dissipate.
Wines to keep
Some wines are slow starters and do not show their best until a few years after the vintage. Their flavours are not the same as the fresh fruit or ready-to-drink wines, but more evolved - combining fruit with gamey, earthy, leathery, spicy or honeyed qualities.
So where to keep them? In addition to avoiding heat and light, for ideal storage keep such wines free from vibration and somewhere moderately humid, but with enough ventilation to avoid mustiness. A cellar is the perfect place but for the majority not lucky enough to possess one, an understairs cupboard or a disused fireplace is ideal, and failing that a bottom drawer that isn't disturbed too often. Garages and lofts tend to experience excessive highs and lows of temperature over the year and so are to be avoided. If the wine has a natural cork it is important to lay it on its side so that the cork does not dry out and shrink which allows the wine to oxidise.
The classic wines for ageing are expensive; top red and white Bordeaux and Burgundy, northern Italy's Barolo and vintage port and vintage champagne.
No, with the exceptions of possibly “pink“ champagne rosé and the new phenomenon pinot grigio blush. Most roses are made from red grapes pressed immediately to extract juice and given very little fermentation time. The minimal contact with the grape skins produces a pale colour. Champagne rosé is traditionally made by blending red and white grapes. However some of the finest rose champages, including our own favourite winemaker Philippe Brugnon, are made from 100% of the red grape pinot noir. Pinot grigio is a white grape with white juice and is therefore technically unable to produce rose. Our guess is that a small amount of red wine, possibly merlot is added for effect. In recent years it is our opinion that the general quality of rose when produced by a serious winemaker has signicantly improved.
Basically wine is simply fermented grape juice. During the fermentation process sugar occurs naturally and the length of fermentation will determine the degree of sweetness of the wine. Dry white wine occurs when the fermentation process has completed and all the sugar consumed. Very sweet white wine (dessert wine) e.g. Sauternes is made from extremely ripe or partially raisoned grapes.