Thursday, 19 August 2010

Salty satisfaction

Today I'm having a dry day so, as I write this, I’m sipping some San Pellegrino just ahead of eating my dinner. Normally I’m happy to have a glass of filtered water from the Brita jug but, for me, the San Pell is a treat. I love its subtle salty tang – appetising, satisfying and a much better partner for food.

During the spell of sweltering hot weather earlier in the summer, what I craved more than anything at the end of a long sticky day was some chilled, saline dry sherry. Ideally Manzanilla, but fresh-as-a-daisy Fino was fine. It then struck me that it wasn’t just my love of salt that provoked this desire. I remembered how much I enjoyed drinking margaritas on holiday in Mexico several years ago – the combination of lime and salt is irresistible in the heat. Perhaps it’s a case of the body craving what it needs. Or perhaps it is just that weakness for salt.

In cooler weather I love sipping dry Amontillado sherry – nutty, mellow, but still with that instantly recognisable tangy, salty core. Of course, certain malt whiskies have a briny undercurrent. Talisker, with its peat smoke and iodine complexity, is a particular favourite.

Champagne can have a saline note, especially blanc de blancs; a recent treat was Ulysse Collin Extra Brut served as a seductively tingly apéritif. Safely tucked away for the future, we have some Chinon from Bernard Baudry with an enticing salty minerality that works deliciously with Cabernet Franc’s hard graphite edge. I cannot wait to see how it evolves. And I couldn’t possibly leave out Thalassitis (‘of the sea’) by Gaia, an arresting white wine from the volcanic island of Santorini. All profoundly and hauntingly satisfying.

More salty tales will follow, probably accompanied by something a little less virtuous in my glass...

(The image is of a driftwood tree on Harbour Island in the Bahamas where we spent some of our honeymoon.) 


  1. Mmm, love a salty glass myself. Am a die-hard Badoit fan or Vichy, any of those salty, slightly flat French mineral waters and of course dry martini with an olive stuck in. Actually made that last one up but it sounded salty if a little 70s cliched!

  2. Mmmm. Thanks for reminding me – dirty martinis. Deliciously grown up.