Q&A – Wine Sommelier Darren Rafferty

Posted / 12th September 2019

Diners booked in for the September Buffers Nights’ event are in for a special treat! Wine sommelier, Darren Rafferty of James Nicholson Wine Merchant will treat customers to a pre-dinner wine tasting evening, to guide you towards the right tipple. Earlier this week, we caught up with Darren to find out what inspires him, if the cost of wine matters and what people can expect at the next Buffers Nights event on Saturday 28th September:

1. What is your favourite part of what you do?

I really enjoy meeting customers and being able to give them more detail on the wines. We ship all wines directly from the vineyard so the wines we import, have all been tasted and I love sharing the passion the winemaker has put into making the wine.

2. Your love for wine must have taken you to some far-flung regions. Have there been any stand-out trips?

I was in Italy this week with customers to the Marche region and it was fantastic. Great food and wine! Stand out trips would be to the Tokaji region in Hungary, Mosel in Germany and the Douro valley is stunning.

3. Why do you spit out wine after you’ve tried it?

There are times it’s hard to spit but if you have up to 100 wines to try in a morning you would just loose all concentration if you didn’t!

4. Are there any rules when pairing wines with food?

I think you can be flexible. My thinking is if the food is full flavoured try it with a full flavoured wine. If the intensity of the food is light, then it will best matched with a lighter wine. The format of the Buffers Wine evening, a very informal tutored pre-dinner wine tasting, allows people to make up their own mind on both what food they want and what wine they might like.

Buffers restaurant Raphoe

5. What is the most expensive wine you have ever drunk?

I have tried Chateau Petrus and Chateau Le Pin whilst in Bordeaux. They would retail for over €1,000 a bottle.

6. Does price matter?

Yes and no…There is some truth in you get what you pay for, but I think once you pay over €10 a bottle so much more of the money goes on the quality of the natural production of the grape juice, which I think is very important. The government takes so much on VAT and duty on wine that once you pay for the wine, the glass, the closure, shipping, storing and delivery, it leaves little for the actual juice below €10. I think you can get some real gems between €10 – €20. After that price point, the quality I find does go up, but maybe in smaller increments.

7. What wines should I serve at a party (or to any large gathering)?

Medium bodied reds and a good fresh white means you will appease to a wide group of people which is important. Don’t just base your choice on the wines you like.

Pictured are some of the James Nicholson buying team at a recent trip. 

8. Should you decant wine first?

All wines can benefit from decanting as it allows a wine to breathe and thus allowing more flavours to be tasted. However, practicality means it’s not really viable in the house or at a restaurant. However, some wines that have very little filtration and thus have sediment into them would really benefit from decanting.

9. What does ‘wines of origin’ mean?

This just means, wines that have a sense of place. Provenance is key and this is why it is important to always visit wineries and meet the winemakers to better understand the land and the people who make the wine.

10. What can people expect at the next Buffers Nights event?

A relaxed chat about wine in a one to one level, tasting some specially selected wines and some excellent food, made using Donegal’s finest local ingredients.

The Buffers Nights menu is a la carte and table bookings are from 6 – 9pm. Limited tables are still available for this event and to book call 074 9173710 or email [email protected] To view the full menu click HERE.

To find out more about James Nicholson Wine Merchant, visit their website – https://www.jnwine.com/