I suppose this sort of thing should be posted on a blog, but since I don’t do blogs, I thought
ers might humour me with allowing me to post this here! I’m travelling through Europe at the moment and thought I would keep a record of some of the more interesting alcoholic drinks I encountered.CologneBeer
The beer that they seem to drink in the Summer in Cologne is Kölsch
which to me looks very much like a Pilsner. I tried some from Früh and from Reissdorf. Both were very, very fizzy and quite high in alcohol which is obvious present (c. 5%, I think). There was an initial bitter hit, but no rounded hoppiness. Both seemed to be to be bit to much like hard work after the first sip which is probably why the Colognese drink it in quite small glasses of about 0.2l in capacity. Awful when warmed up which invariably happened to the last few sips of a 0.5l bottle...Wine2009 Hohenstaufer Dornfelder, Pfalz, 13%.
This was the most expensive German red wine that could be purchased in a half-bottle at Cologne station. It cost me €1.99...
Purple centre, fading quite a lot to the edge. Bouquet not sampled on account of drinking this from a plastic cup. Initially vinegary in the mouth with a touch of that fizzy sensation which often comes with very cheap wines. Some very slight fruit flavours follow. Perhaps even in a little floral? Hard to tell. Very slightly tannic and quite acidic on the finish. If I were kind I would say this was a bit like a bad Beaujolais. If I am not, I think this is barely drinkable.ViennaBeer
The Radhaus in Vienna was hosting an open-air film festival (albeit with about one film a week) which seemed to be an excuse to set up a big food-court. All of them sold beers by Ottakringer and I asked for a Radler
, not having the faintest idea what it was. Apparently this is a mixture of lemonade with the local light lager, Helles. Very fruity (though I thought oranges, not lemons), not particularly fizzy and only very slightly hoppy (I gather Helles is not hopped very much in the first place), I thought this was excellent to drink in the 25-degree heat and would happy quaff this with lunch at home.Wine2008 Opus Eximium by Weingut Gesellman, Burgenland, 14%.
Hoping to do better than the Hohenstaufer Dornfelder, I went into the Wein & Co shop / wine bar in the centre of Vienna. It’s a nice place with a wine bar, shop and restaurant, although apparently to get around tight Austrian licensing laws it is officially just a restaurant which just happens to sell wine by the bottle. That status also allows it to open until late. A man suggested that this was the nicest Austrian red they had, at €13 in a half-bottle. It is a blend of Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt, none of which I had heard of before.
Deep purple centre, fading a little. Bouquet not sampled. In the mouth, initially quite complex layers of flavours emerge. Some fruit, perhaps not-very-ripe cherries and black currants, under layers of complex aromatic herbs. This is followed by a secondary tobacco flavour and then an extremely long after-taste which is slightly peppery and slightly oaky with a touch of vanilla (unsurprising considering this spent about 16 months in wood). There is a good balance of a little acidity and a small amount of robust tannins. This is a very good wine with the after-taste being utterly spectacular.
The shop also had a great selection of Niepoort. I was very nearly tempted to get a magnum of one of the table wines but thought I probably wouldn’t be able to get it on the train.BudapestWine
I found a fun little place in Budapest which, like Vinologica, offers wine tasting. I did worry that doing a tokaji tasting was a bit of a cliché but then the people next to me were trying the “premium tasting” (at c.€10 a glass) which were introduced as “a Bordeaux blend”, “another Bordeaux blend”, “a Cabernet Franc”; that must surely be a bigger cliché!
Anyway, I must profess complete ignorance on the part of tokaji. I had previously thought I knew some of the basics, like the puttony system, but apparently this is barely scratching the surface.2009 Tokaj Hétszőlő, Furmint
Things I didn’t know about tokaji that were dispelled with this wine:
i) you can have bone-dry tokaji
ii) the sweet tokajis are blends of different grapes, of which Furmint is the most important
iii) the other main grape is Hárslevelű, and nether it or Furmint seems to be used for any other wine
Almost clear in colour, there was very little on the nose. In the mouth this was very unimpressive. Very few flavours, completely dry, it tasted like cheap dry wine from almost anywhere in the world. Not great.2009 Royal Tokaj, Sárgamuskotály
This wine is made with the same type of Moscato which is used in Italy to make one of my favourite wines: Moscato d’Asti/Alba (don’t laugh!). When pouring, notably more viscous than the Furmint. On the nose, immediately struck by the very clear moscato nose; very attractive luscious fruits. In the mouth, not so obviously like an Italian moscato. Initially slightly bitter on the tip of the tongue. Then it opened up with some exotic fruits and coconut. Quite good but too dry (it was described as semi-sweet, I think I would call this off-dry) for my liking.2009 Gróf Degenfeld, Tokaji Hárslevelű
Very little on the nose, with perhaps a little heat. In the mouth, immediate dry astringency. Then falls away to an extremely long orangy after-taste which lingers long in the mouth. Really rather nice. As with the Sárgamuskotály this was described as a semi-sweet wine but I think this one was sweeter than the Sárgamuskotály.20006 Pannon Tokaj, Dominium Cuvée
This was described as a késői szüretelésű--a late harvest wine--which I think means that not all of the grapes used were botrytized and it was not made by the complex aszú process. On the nose luscious fruit. In the mouth, huge impact of sugar but well tempered by the alcohol and a slight acidity followed by a fantastic density of fruit. This was not like the sweet tokaji I have tried before but it was excellent and really enjoyable.2004 Pannon Tokaji Aszú 3 Puttonyos
The first time I’ve tried a lower-end 3 Puttonyos, although the sommelier assured me that Pannon was a very good house so it would be very good. This was golden in colour; the first proper tokaji colour. Slightly musty on the nose, under the bold fruit you would expect. In the mouth, very acidic and slightly astringent which some fruit but not nearly enough. Quite disappointing, especially after the Dominium Cuvée, this simply wasn’t as luscious as I had hoped.BelgradeBeerJelen Pivo
This seems to be the most popular and highest-rated Serbian beer. It is a very pale lager, about 5%. The colour is almost yellow and it has a sort of weird head that evaporates in seconds. It tastes of water with the barest aftertaste of lager. I cannot remember a beer that has had less flavour. Indeed, it reminds me of a dodgy beer I drank on the beach in Barcelona in a plain red can marked “Cervesa”. I think they make a dark version, too. I might have to try that tomorrow.