• 5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    5 Thirst Quenching White Wines to Beat the Heat this Summer

    Tempted to reach for the Sauvignon Blanc, but fancy a change or a talking point at the BBQ? Why not try some of these refreshing options?

    Picpoul de Pinet

    This warmth loving grape comes from the Languedoc in the south of France. Amazingly, it managed to stay crisp and refreshing despite the intense summer heat. Its name means ‘lip stinger’ in the local dialect, referring to its amazing ability to retain acidity. The vineyard areas around Pinet specialise in it. Becoming increasingly fashionable on wine lists around the UK, its not hard to see why. Attractive floral profile, with lemon and lime flavours which make it ideal with seafood or grilled chicken.

    Tesco Finest Picpoul De Pinet £7.50, 13%abv

    Baron De Guers Picpoul De Pinet, Sainsbury's £8, 12.5%abv

    Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet, Majestic, £9.99, 12.5%abv

    Vermentino

    The best expression of this comes from Sardinia in Italy. It has lovely crisp green apple, grapefruit and lemon/lime flavours, often with a touch of herbaceous character. The effect of the sea supposedly gives it a distinctive salty mineral tang too. It is also normally quite low in alcohol, at around 11-12.5%abv. Goes a treat with any grilled fish or meats coated in Mediterranean herbs and lemon.

    Nord Est Vermentino Cantina del Vermentino, Majestic, £11.99, 12.5%abv

    Castanzu vermentino di sardegna, Kwoff, £8, 12%abv

    Le Stelle Vermentino di Sardegna, Waitrose, £8.79, 12%abv

    Bacchus

    A home grown hit. This German variety is named after the Greco-Roman god of wine and has really taken to the English climes. Our version of Sauvignon Blanc. Expect elderflower, citrus and gooseberry but with a slightly softer edge to the acidity. Never cheap but is competitively priced against many New Zealand offerings. Some major supermarkets stock it, but often easier to purchase online direct from vineyards themselves.

    Chapel Down Bacchus, Ocado, £13.99, 12.5%abv


    Verdejo

    This variety is from the Rueda in North West Spain. Freshness is paramount in this grape, so they are often harvested at night or early morning at cooler temperatures to preserve its aromas. Soft textured, yet full bodied and pungent with flavours of citrus, stone fruit and melon. Delicious and often great value in comparison to its more famous neighbour, Albariño.




    Muscat

    Not always sickly sweet, although the nose often fools your brain into thinking that. Dry versions have all the same delicacy and perfume with a grapey, stone fruit, citrus peel and floral character. The best ones balance these wonderful aromatics with crisp acidity. The classic region for this style is Alsace, though for slightly cheaper expressions look to Chile or Spain. 

    Trimbach Muscat Reserve, Wine Society, £14.95, 12.5%abv

    Juan Gil Moscato Seco, Reserve Wines Manchester, £12, 14%abv

    De Martino Gallardía del Itata Muscat, Wine Society, £9.95, 12.5%abv


  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations, April

    White Wine

    Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco Di Tufo. Campania, Italy. £10

    ​Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Greco di Tufo

    From Campania in Italy, the favoured wine region of the ancient Romans. This is made from the Greco grape, named after the Greeks who were first thought to have brought this variety with them to southern Italy. Greco Di Tufo is a region which has been awarded its own designation specialising in it, thanks to the grapes performing well on the limestone plateau ('Tufo') here. A rich textured, yet fresh, crisp and aromatic white with floral aromas and notes of herbs and spices. Lovely stone and exotic fruit flavours on the palate. Great with rich, creamy pasta or seafood dishes.

    Red Wine

    ​Diablo Dark Red. Maule Valley, Chile.13.5%abv. Sainsbury's/Londis, £10.

    A new premium red by Concha y Toro, makers of the Casillero del Diablo range. It has a dramatic, sriking red and gold label you can't fail to miss on the shelf. A multi vintage blend of Shiraz, Malbec and a small amount of other varieties. The wine has been symbollically aged for 6 months, 6 weeks & 6 days in a mixture of new and partially new French and American oak barrels.

    An enticing nose of ripe red and black fruits, smoke, vanilla and dark chocolate/coffee. The rich, pleasing flavours follow through on the palate. An intense red that is excellent with BBQ food, steak, chile or spicy things. Smooth and not too heavy on the alcohol. Delicious and satisfying.

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

    Diablo Dark Red '666' Blend

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations- April

    White Wine

    Definition Series Chenin Blanc, South Africa. Majestic, £12.99.

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    Majestic Definition Chenin Blanc

    A good example of the style you can achieve from Chenin Blanc, when wine makers aren't trying to squeeze as many grapes out of their vines as possible. Green apple and citrus, with a honeyed nose. Delicious stone and tropical fruit on the palate, with a hint of sweet spice from a touch of oak.

    Red Wine

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir, Chile. Waitrose, £10.99.

    Pinot Noir at a reasonable price point is quite hard to pull off. It's either cheap, weak and insipid or jammy and powerful from the New Zealand/very earthy and expensive from Burgundy for the best expressions. Chile is an amenable home to this grape. This wine falls some where between the two, for more accessible cost. Perfumed red berry fruits, with a touch of earthiness and floral character. 

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

    Errazuriz Coastal Series Pinot Noir

  • Christmas Wine Suggestions

    Christmas gatherings can be a bit of a nightmare to cater and select wines for, especially with lots of guests. The more people there are, inevitably the wider diversity of personal tastes and preferences. It's first of all important to remember that you will never please everyone! However, here I'll lay out some suggested Christmas wine 'crowd pleasers' for you. These are wines that are good all rounders, which most people recognise and like, and that also pair with many different types of foods.

    Christmas Wines. Festive tipples to tickle your taste buds!

    Christmas Wines. Festive tipples to tickle your taste buds!

    Welcome drinks, appetisers and starters

    Refreshing wines are best for this purpose. Wines that get you salivating, and build up an appetite while cleansing your palate of rich, often pastry based party nibbles. For whites- Sauvignon Blanc is always great for this, or if this is 'soooo last year', why not try a delicious alternative like Spanish Verdejo or Albarino. You could also look to Italy, with a refreshing Gavi or Verdicchio, or France for a fresh Picpoul de Pinet.

    Sparkling wines are also very refreshing, and most people usually appreciate being welcomed with glass of bubbly when they walk through the door! This year's Which? Magazine best buys were Spar's Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCG, £12 (closely followed by Asda's Fillipo Sansovino Prosecco at a more modest £7.98) and Waitrose's Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne (£21.99). 

    Fancy some reds? Light bodied and fruity wines like Beaujolais, a juicy Pinot Noir, Cotes du Rhone Villages or Valpolicella go down a treat.

    The main course

    Whether chicken, turkey, goose, 4 bird or nut roast with all the trimmings, there are many wines that stand up to the multitude of flavours festive feasts can throw at you. For whites, there's a classic complex Chardonnay from Burgundy or the New World. Chardonnay not your bag? How about a voluptuously textured Viognier or a rich, aromatic Pinot Gris.

    A rich red like Argentinean Malbec always creates a stir at our Christmas dinners (ALDI's Exquisite Uco Valley Malbec was another Which? Magazine best buy). Looking for flavour bang for your buck? Try a rich Aussie Shiraz, especially from the Barossa Valley. Pushing the boat out? Have a substantial Chateauneuf du Pape to wash down those pigs in blankets, leaving you with a pleasing, lingering spicy bramble fruit finish. 

    For dessert/the cheese board

    Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) or Tawny Ports go excellently with both cheese and decadent chocolate based desserts, or Christmas puds. Feeling adventurous? Try a fantastic Australian Rutherglen Muscat or a sweet Pedro-Ximenez (PX). Their intense, dried fruit characters really bring out the best in your mince pies and christmas puds and make that blue cheese really shine! Something lighter? Moscato d'Asti (the lighter, less fizzy cousin of Asti Spumante) pairs well with lighter fruit desserts featuring tart red and black berry medleys. 

    Want some more handy wine tips, or know someone who does? You can learn more at our fun tasting events! 

    Our gift vouchers mean that special wine or spirits lover in your life can pick their own memorable experience. People remember and talk about our events for a long time, they make lasting memories!

  • John’s Monthly Wine Recommendations: September

    White Wine

    ASDA Extra Special Rueda Verdejo 2015, £5.48

    ASDA Extra Special Rueda Verdejo 2015

    ASDA Extra Special Rueda Verdejo 2015

    The Rueda region, north west of Madrid is where winemakers are creating increasingly exciting and deliciously smooth wines from the little known Verdejo grape. This high plateau area with cold winters and hot summers is perfect for ripening grapes with full flavour, whilst preserving freshness of acidity. Much fleshier, less expensive and in my opinion, more exciting, than its more famous neighbour Albariño from Galicia. Substantial enough to stand up to many richer dishes. Vibrant peachy stonefruit and citrus taste. If you like Sauvignon Blanc and are looking for an alternative, try this. 

    Red Wine

    Marqués de Mejía Rioja 2015, £6.49 The Wine Society

    A little known Rioja style, this unaged 'Joven,' displays the purity of the grapes well. Crunchy red and black fruits, with a hint of spice and just a faint whiff of vanilla and sweet spice. A fantastic wine to appreciate as just a glass of on its own, or with a simple meal like chilli or Spaghetti Bolognese. 

    Marqués de Mejía Rioja

    Marqués de Mejía Rioja