Wherever we go on holiday, I’m always hoping to taste the best of the local wines or any unusual grape varieties rarely found elsewhere. Things don’t always work out that way, of course; we recently enjoyed a short break on the Isle of Man where, as far as I know, there are no commercial vineyards and so no local wine to try (although perhaps someone will correct me!)
But that doesn’t mean that our time on the island was completely ‘dry’. A little advance research identified several restaurants where it seemed likely that we would eat and drink well. We weren’t disappointed with our choices.
Wine Down is a wine shop, wine bar and restaurant similar to Bristol’s much-missed Wine Library. You can buy a bottle and take it home or you can choose anything from the shelves and drink it with your meal for a very reasonable £10 extra on top of the shop price. I selected a crisp, yet rich and complex dry Vouvray (£31 including corkage), which was a perfect accompaniment to our lovely main course of Halibut. But it was when we started chatting to the sommelier that she recommended something really unusual to drink with our desserts. Stein’s Streihween from the Mosel in Germany is made from Riesling grapes harvested and then dried on straw mats to concentrate the sugars. The result was a fresh, delicate wine with gentle sweetness balancing the natural acidity of the Riesling grape. Delicious!
You don’t see dried grape wines that often, so it was a surprise to find another on the wine list of Enzo’s, the restaurant we chose the next day. Firriato’s L’Ecru Passito from Sicily is made slightly differently in that a sweet wine is made from late-harvested Zibbibo (aka Muscat) grapes and then extra sun-dried grapes are added to the made wine. This was altogether more robust and rather sweeter, but with the attractive fragrance of the muscat grape showing through.
So, despite there being no local wines to taste on the island, the local restaurants came good and we had plenty of interest to drink alongside some very enjoyable, flavoursome dishes.