The tasting notes for my splendidly named Turkey Flat Butcher’s Block Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2010 told me to expect hints of five spice, plum, cherry and blackcurrant, with smoky, meaty undertones. As it happened, I had several of these ingredients in the house – plums, meat, smoke and five spice – so I had a sniff. I can’t swear to any of them, but I do now know that my little jar of Chinese five spice powder smells of sawdust.
Tonight’s Rioja Reserva Dos Maderas 2006 exhorts me to detect cinnamon, clove and toasted bread. My jars of the first two do have a bit more nose to them than the five spice, because I use them more often, so they’ll be slightly fresher; I don’t have any toast to hand, I’m afraid.
I see I also have, amongst others, allspice, caraway, fennel, kaffir lime, saffron, fenugreek, juniper, asafoetida, two sorts of pimento, three sorts of peppercorns and, um, curry powder in my spice drawer. Not having the corresponding wines in the rack, I can’t test these, but I don’t mind betting there’ll be a fair proportion of sawdust amongst them. The asafoetida must go back a decade.
Talk about the mustard left on the plate! Colman’s have nothing on these spice merchants, do they? Still, they’ll probably be good enough for wine-making, if I ever take it up again.