Sommelier Martina Delaney worked for many years at Dublin's l'Ecrivain Restaurant before moving to Whelehan's Wines, where she can be found enthusing about the constantly evolving list of wines that David Whelehan and his passionate team curate.
My most memorable wine experience was at a wine dinner in the Shelbourne. We were having a particular Coonawarra Cabernet and, on its own, you just couldn't drink it. It was like eucalyptus in a glass. And then we had it with rack of lamb and the match was unbelievable, it was like an explosion. I will never forget it!
Lately I've been enjoying drinking a white Rioja from 5th-generation family domaine called Valserrano. It's a barrel-fermented Viura and it's absolutely delicious, with a lovely creamy texture too. It was my favourite discovery from Prowein (international wine fair in Germany) this year.
So now, I always ask people, what are you eating tonight? If they say a big rib of beef I'll suggest something with nice tannins and grip. Or they might be having a beouf bourguignon and then I'd suggest maybe a Grenache because you need something soft with that. If you get it wrong, it can be very very wrong, like putting a Sauvignon Blanc with an Indian curry, when you really need something with a bit of spice to it.
The best value wines today is from the south of France, Langudeoc and Aix-en-Provence. And also Portugal, there's some particularly good wines from the Alentejo at a really good price. They're all family-run domain estates and if they were anywhere else they'd be double the price. Though I don't really want them to get too much recognition because the price will go through the roof!
There's some really good wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape producers from Cotes du Rhone. And there's some really good pure single-site schist Muscadet ? I love the purity and freshness of these wines. They're not over-extracted, there's no oak chips, just simple wines done really well.
My dream cellar would contain Burgundy red and white, first and foremost, and some Duoro wines and Alentejo, and northern Rhone Cote Rotie. That's where the most exciting wines are being produced today. For years everybody overlooked the great wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux because they were too expensive or misunderstood, but there's a lot of good quality wine coming from both regions.
It's exciting how much there is to learn and I love that there's no right or wrong. It's so subjective and there's a wine for everybody's palate and budget. Everyday is a new discovery. You never get bored. The one line I hate from people is 'I know that wine' because you don't know it, what the wine tastes like today, tomorrow it'll taste differently.
In Conversation with: Aoife Carrigy, wine & drinks editor of Image Interiors & Living
Portrait: Melanie Mullan