I bet you don’t think of wine, or even a packet of pork scratchings.
I will, from now on.
One of the interesting things to come out of the recent limiting few months has been the use of video hangouts.
In real time, I’ve spoken to all sorts of people in the wine industry across the world and many of those conversations have ended up here, in this regular wine-shaped selection of letters and words and phrases.
And so, armed with little more than a packet of Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling (thankfully I was on mute to block out the crunch factor) and three bottles of wine from New York State, I joined a webinar on the food-friendly nature of wines from that region.
Joining us from across the pond were Mario Mazza, of Mazza Vineyard who is based in Lake Erie; Matthew Spaccarelli from the Fjord Vineyards producers in Hudson River; and Scott Osborn, of Fox Run Vineyards, based in Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region.
My wine was open and so was my mind.
Yes, this was a food pairing theme but it was also an eye-opener into such a diverse (and, I shall say delicious) range of wines.
Our host was London-based New Yorker Dan Belmont.
The wines from New York State are only beginning to gain a foothold in the UK. They are something new to discover to step outside your comfort zones
New York State has around 470 wineries and is the third-largest wine producing region in America.
It’s considered a cool climate region similar to Burgundy and Germany.
This is because the Ice Age left its mark with lakes and rivers. They cool the vines in the summer, release their stored warmth in the winter and protect the vines and grapes from extreme temperatures.
Cool climates create wines with a thrill of acidity. Just think of a German riesling or a Chablis and you’re on the money.
Mario Mazza’s vineyards sit seven hours from New York City and are around one of the shallowest Great Lakes.
His rosé wine (with smoked salmon) is created with a grape variety I’d never heard of - chambourcin. It can’t ripen enough to create good reds in this region which is notorious for its cold winters and lots of snow.
But is perfect as a pink, delivering a steeliness, acidity and watermelon notes.
In the Hudson river region most of the wineries are about two miles from the river and the shape of the valley acts as a conduit funnelling the Atlantic air through it.
Matthew’s wine, an albariño was “singing” and a”live wire” – and the crackling was the partner here.
The wine’s acidity cuts through the fattiness. In the Finger Lakes region, Seneca Lake is a moderating factor allowing the grapes to ripen and keeping the vines healthy.
Scott Osborn – whose oaked chardonnay was a fresh, delicately buttery dream – says of the lake: “It has a huge effect on the surrounding vineyards. In winter it acts like a heater, keeping temperatures about five degrees warmer than the other side of the hill.
“Finger Lakes is a challenging place. We need varieties like riesling, cabernet franc and chardonnay. They can withstand the colder temperatures.
“We must try to keep up with mother nature.”
Dan Belmont has a selection of New York wines via this link.Online merchants which also stock New York wines include Handford Wines, Wanderlust Wines, Noble Green Wines and Woodwinters.
For more information, go to newyorkwines.org
In the lovely sunny days of recent weeks I’ve occasionally been unfaithful to my early evening G&T by pouring, instead, a vodka with a lemony zippiness.
Wildjac Fresh Citrus Vodka (RRP £29, online at Wildjac.co.uk, masterofmalt.com) is an eco-friendly spirit using recycled glass bottles, recycled labels and each bottle comes with wildflower seedsticks.
Aside from its green credentials, it’s tasty too.
The vodka is distilled with hops and lemon thyme, with 12 foraged botanicals including elderflower and bergamot.
Ah, but what of the sip factor?
The lemon-y taste stars, with flavoursome support in the form of grapefruit, that herb-y thyme and lime.
One Foot in the Grapes is a programme provider for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Go to www.onefootinthegrapes.co.uk