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Thursday, 22 April 2021 13:30

The Big Dipper

Written by  Bob Campbell
The Big Dipper The Big Dipper

Once a year, when capsicum prices bottom out (which means they’re at their freshest best) I make the Big Dipper, a kick-ass mix of red capsicum, cashew nuts, garlic and olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper. 

This heady, spicy mixture does for Sauvignon Blanc what spinach did for Popeye. 

Capsicums are currently $5 for 10 of the plumpest, crunchiest most fragrant fruits (yes, they are a fruit) you are likely to find at any other time of the year. I’m not sure who christened it “The Big Dipper” but it is a family tradition going back at least a couple of decades.

The big bonus is that it is quick and easy to make. The only fiddly bit is roasting and peeling the capsicums. That’s my job. I do it on my Weber barbecue. The Big Dipper is cheap, quick to make and is highly addictive. One dip is never enough.

It partners up nicely with any Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, although I find that wines from cooler subregions such as the Awatere Valley make the best match. The acidity in the wine contrasts nicely with the olive oil in the Big Dipper while the slightly spicy capsicum flavour helps to amplify any hint of capsicum character in the wine.

The Big Dipper

3 x large red capsicums charred and peeled

1 x clove of garlic sliced

½ cup raw cashew nuts

¼ cup olive oil

Salt & pepper

Put all ingredients in a Nutrabullet or blender. Blitz until smooth. Serve with toasted pita bread or (even better) Sardinian parchment crackers (from Sabatto, Auckland).

It’s fine to alter ingredients to suit your taste.

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Bob's Blog: Predictions for 2021

Market research organisation Wine Intelligence looks into the future each year and makes quite specific predictions. They have scored a high hit rate in the past. Here are their five predictions for 2021.

  1.  Wine volumes will decline and spend per bottle will rise – though this may be largely due to rising alcohol taxes. Taxes on alcohol are a popular way for governments to re-charge the coffers drained by Covid-19. I would add that Australian wine producers will be seeking alternative markets after China, their biggest market, placed restrictive taxes on Australian wine. New Zealand is an obvious target.
  2. Alternative packaging formats will make serious inroads into the traditional glass bottle market. Bag-in-box and cans have a smaller carbon footprint than bottles, which could become a victim of measures to battle climate change.
  3. Wineries will forge more meaningful and lasting direct relationships with their consumer bases, but wine tourism will take a long time to recover. The pandemic has motivated producers to ramp up their online sales to good effect. The momentum is expected to continue, albeit at a slower pace. Cellar door visitors will continue to be depleted until borders are opened.
  4. The surge in online retail usage will continue, and investment and growing competition will reshape the online channel and enhance delivery speed. Consumers have been encouraged to make purchases online. That is likely to continue as deliveries become faster and more efficient.
  5. The wine seltzer market will take off. Hard seltzer has tripled in the US over the past two years and is expected to continue.