Tasting the Euros

So where will you be watching on Sunday night? England’s historic victory over Denmark means that their football team is now in its first major final for 55 years and whether football isn’t really your thing, or your loyalties lay elsewhere, as wine lovers it’s the chance to open an interesting bottle, pour yourself a glass and sit back as a momentums sporting dual plays out at Wembley. So what will you be sipping on Sunday night?

Like football, wine is ever changing. Whereas every tournament has its own dramas and surprises with different players, different teams and different managers, with wine no two vintages are the same. Winemakers come and go, wine changes and evolves with time in the bottle and of course what was good one year maybe a stinker the next. My job is to find those interesting wines, that punch above their weight, stir the emotions and are a pleasure to watch. A bit like the English football team (sorry! I’m showing my loyalties).

But the great thing about Sunday’s game against Italy is that we can now taste our way through the final. This was a game I first played in 1998 when France hosted the World Cup. Those of you who follow the great game will know that England had a talented side including David Beckham and Michael Owen. I was lucky enough to attend, heading off to France with an old friend in his rather dodgy grey Vauxhall and a tent. We drove from Windsor to Toulouse, stopping off along the way to watch games in Paris, Limoges and wherever we could find a venue that was showing the game. Knowing that France didn’t have pubs it was then that the idea struck. Why don’t we drink a wine from the region the football match was being played in? For a couple of young wine enthusiasts, it was a fabulous opportunity to explore France’s wine route. We opened rosé for games in Marseilles, Bordeaux when the teams met in the South West, big hearty reds in Toulouse (where we had tickets) and Champagne in Lens. Although I’m not sure we ever did drink Champagne as our budget was extremely tight. The next World Cup was played in Japan and South Korea (not a huge amount of wine produced there) so we adapted the game, replacing regions with countries.

And Sunday night offers an intriguing contest! Like its football team, England now has a handful of promising wines and there is certainly the opportunity to pit them against several examples from Italy. English sparkling wine v Prosecco? That would be close. Perhaps a more interesting contest would be against Franciacorta in the north east of Italy, where the style of sparkling wine and quality levels are similar to England. I wouldn’t want to call that one. Still wines aren’t a contest. Bacchus v Soave doesn’t sound much of a match to me and let’s not get started on the reds! Whatever the result though I’ll be cracking open a bottle of Harrow & Hope on Sunday night and possibly something from Tuscany too and raising a glass to what has been a magnificent tournament. Cheers!

Wil Lyons

Club Vice President

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