I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.
The highlight was a superb goat biryani topped with a salt crust and served with pomegramate seeds and coriander. It was subtly fragrant rather than spicy and seemed really well suited to the eclectic selection of bottles we had on the table which ranged from a Loire Chenin Blanc (La Pointe 1920, Les Vignes Herbels) to a cloudy but delicious Australian Pinot Noir (Domaine Lucci Wildman Pinot) the likes of which you’ve probably never tasted. More about these and the other wines on my natural wine blog shortly.
It underlined that natural wines need air and food to show at their best. Most were better a couple of hours after being opened. A couple benefited from decanting. Detractors might - and almost certainly would - say that that proves how impractical they are but you used to have to open most conventional reds such as Bordeaux well in advance.
I must say I like the quirky offbeat flavours the natural wine world offers - in the same way as I like the world of unpasteurised cheese. And the fact that all these wines were refreshingly dry rather than cloyingly heavy and sweet as so many modern reds are.
And if you feel inspired to make a biryani there’s a similar recipe (with rabbit) in Stevie’s excellent new Dock Kitchen Cookbook. And that would go with Pinot too.