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Smell the Rosé Forget sniffing and slurping and just enjoy your glass of vino, says wine expert Michelle Lawlor

"The language and image around wine can be intimidating — for us, it’s about making wine fun"

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The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

Do you make pour decisions when it comes to choosing wine? Fear (pi)not, as we've enlisted the founder of Ireland's leading online wine shop to answer all your quaffing queries.

Q: I'm trying to shift the pandemic pounds - should I switch to a specific 'diet' wine?

ML: There are a few things to consider when looking for a drink that is more waistline-friendly than others. The components in wine that add the pounds are both sugar and alcohol. The less alcohol, the lower the calories, so opting for wines 12.5pc or lower definitely helps. Just look for the alcohol percentage on the label.

There are also some red, white and sparkling wines that have higher natural sugars in them, the most prolific one being prosecco. Prosecco comes in lots of different forms and can be anything from bone dry to medium sweet. Keep a look out for prosecco that has the word 'Brut' on the label, as that is the driest style.

Likewise, for Cava and Champagne, look out for the phrase 'Brut Nature'. Years ago the rumours were that supermodels only drank Brut Nature.

Q: Whispering Angel is everywhere right now - but is it worth the €25 price tag or are there any good dupes out there?

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The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

The Nude Wine Company founder Michelle Lawlor wants to make wine more accessible to all.

ML: Whispering Angel comes from the South of France, and while it is delicious, you can find very good alternatives for under €20.

The easiest way to know what a rosé wine will taste like is to look at the colour, as they generally taste like the colour they are. If they are the colour of nectarines and raspberries, for example, it's very likely that they will taste very similar to them. If they are dark cherry or Ribena in colour, they will likely taste like that.

Rosé from the south of France tends to be pale pink verging on grey and these work well either on their own or served with light-flavoured foods such as smoked salmon on brown bread. Try Rosabelle Grenache (€15) from the Languedoc for a blush pink, bone dry, yet creamy wine. It's like raspberry ripple ice cream for adults!

Q: Over lockdown, a lot of my friends have been getting wine delivered to their door. I'd like to buy online, but find it a bit overwhelming - do you have any tips?

ML: When buying wine online, you are right - it can be hard to know where to start, and the language and image around wine can be intimidating.

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Pink wine is hugely popular

Pink wine is hugely popular

Pink wine is hugely popular

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This is exactly the reason we started The Nude Wine Company. For us, it's about making wine fun and easy to understand; you could say, wine without notions. I would definitely recommend doing a virtual wine course. There are loads available right now and you should be able to pick up some helpful pointers.

Themed boxes and subscriptions are also a helpful way for getting some pre-selected wines to get you started.

Q: From Kylie Minogue to Graham Norton, my local supermarket shelves are heaving with celebrity wines - are there any that you really rate?

ML: There is such a romantic view of winemaking - with dreams of long lazy lunches over pasta and red wine in the rolling Tuscan hills - that it's easy to see why celebs get the wine bug and put their name on a label. Some are fabulous wines while others are gimmicks. The proof is in the pudding, so the best way to know is to try them.

Sting puts his name to one of Italy's most famous wines, Chianti. It's called 'Can We Dance' and it is, in fact, excellent.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie still share ownership of Miraval Rosé, which is made by Pierre Perrin, one of France's most accoladed winemakers. There are great celeb wines out there, you just need to know where to look.

Q: I recently saw someone on TikTok using a Nutribullet to aerate red wine quickly - does it work or is it just a fad?

ML: The new phenomenon called 'hyper-decanting' was introduced to me by a client on a virtual wine tasting over Christmas. The principle is correct, with the end-goal of introducing a lot of air into a very full-bodied wine very quickly. I'd only give it a quick blitz or two, and only on very robust reds from the likes of Australia.

More conventional options would be to open your wine an hour or two before drinking or using a decanter. In recent years there has been a big uptake in using aerators. These are specifically designed wine pourers that create the decanting effect instantly. Try Le Creuset's Wine Aerator and Pourer (€19).

Q: I remember drinking box wine while backpacking around Australia years ago, but never thought it would make a comeback. Has the quality improved much? ML: The wine industry has struggled with innovation around packaging, as quality has traditionally been synonymous with a glass bottle and a cork closure. It has taken nearly 25 years for most people to accept quality wines also come sealed with a screw cap.

Box wine has long been associated with quantity over quality, but there are some dynamic producers bottling their quality juice in a bag. They are definitely more eco-friendly and easy to recycle.

  • For more wine advice or to sign up for a virtual tasting, see thenudewineco.ie

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