People who want to know more about wine often tell me they:
- Lack confidence when reading a restaurant wine list – especially when out with ‘wine buffs’
- Don’t want to turn up at a friend’s house with ‘embarrassing bottles’ (they should make a programme about that)
- Are confused by the choice available
The latter is probably the most common, certainly if you shop in supermarkets for your wine. Whilst having a huge range on their shelves is brilliant, it can also feel a bit overwhelming. Is this your thought process?
Nice label + half price + in a rush = BUY
Wine Buying Rut
We’ve all been seduced by a ‘deal’ then ended up using most of the wine for cooking or dashing out again to the shops for a replacement and spending twice as much. So when we find a wine we like, we buy it over and over again. I hear the words “I know what I like” quite a lot from people who have paid good money to come along to a wine tasting event. WHY? I certainly keep on trying and learning in the process, one glass at a time!
The joy of having so much choice is that you can experiment and step out of your comfort zone. You might get a pleasant surprise. And with ‘discounters’ such as Aldi and Lidl offering a fantastic selection of wine at really reasonable prices, you can probably afford to drop a few clangers and have a good selection to throw into your ‘spag bol’ next time.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
I love independent wine merchants, they usually put their heart and soul into finding a great wine for you and always have some jolly banter and useful information when in the shop. The really good ones tend to have a couple of bottles open for you to try.
However, I would argue that supermarkets give you the opportunity to really experiment and find your feet, or even lose track of them!
I saw this chalkboard when in my local Booths and thought it was a really simple way of illustrating the different styles of wines as well as signposting for what to try next (or is that just my excuse?)
Of course, there are wines I return to more than others, but I am constantly being surprised by new and exciting producers and countries which historically haven’t made great wine but are now doing so. It’s all good, as they say!
More than likely you’ll start to ‘drink smarter’ – perhaps less volume but better quality wine (the one you really love is always a few quid more than you want to pay). But that is good, right?
Once you’ve reached the ’emerald bottled city’ of an independent wine shop, you’ll probably be better informed, more confident (without being big-headed of course) and able to find your way home with something which won’t go to waste!
Tesco: Finest Premier Cru Champagne £18: Rich, toasty and creamy – never had Tesco champagne before, great value for the price (STOP PRESS, NOW £14 until 25th July!)
Majestic: Porta 6 2013 Lisboa £8.99: I’m with James Martin on this one – lovely juicy fruits and refreshing acidity – had with mezze and salad just last night!
D Byrne & Co + Tiny’s Tipple: Valenciso White Rioja 2014 (price varies but £13.99 from D Byrne in Clitheroe): A very modern type of white Rioja – it has oak but it is so subtle and works well with food such as shellfish, squid and more robust fish dishes. A fantastic producer, you should try their red Rioja too!
Tesco: Finest Picpoul de Pinet £6.00: Quite hard to get hold of this as it tends to sell out very quickly. If you are looking for a good alternative to Sauvignon and love that fresh acidity it has, this could be the one. Warning this is NOT like Marlborough Sauvignon, about time you had a change!