So Christmas is over once again and all we have to look forward to is going back to work with no more public holidays on the horizon until Easter, whenever the hell that is. And what is it that great swathes of you want to do? Yes that’s right, embark on a month of enforced abstinence from pretty much everything enjoyable that makes our brief existence on this planet bearable.
Oh yes you’ll still have your families (providing you didn’t kill them over the festive period) and friends to bore with stories of Janusober or whatever some PR asshole has decided to christen it. But don’t you deserve better? Why not continue to enjoy yourself with food, wine and not flogging yourself in a gym for a month then regretting the 12 month membership fee you paid for up front?
Although many of those supermarket pre-Christmas bargains have melted away like the snow we never had, there are still a few delicious and inexpensive drops out there to be had. To kick you off here are a couple from each of the big four. If you want to see what riches Aldi has to offer check out my Aldi Autumn/Winter tasting piece – you’ll be glad you did.
Yes, I know that wine wise these guys have dropped the ball in spectacular fashion of late, particularly reducing their range by getting rid of many interesting wines and trying (unsuccessfully) to compete with Asda on horrid, sweet tat like Blossom Hill and Yellow Tail. Fortunately they’ve kept a few of their still generally excellent Finest Range so we’ll start with one of these.
Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec £5 – Buy Here
Hailing from Malbec’s South American spiritual home Mendoza, here is a cracking drop from masters of the grape Catena. This has oodles of rich and juicy blueberry and blackberry fruit, a lick of spice and a fresh, dry finish. Yes it’s obvious but this really is perfect with any type of beef, especially a nice char-grilled sirloin steak. Unless you’re abstaining from that too.
Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc £7 (usually £8.50) – Buy Here
Here’s a great deal on a delicious example of this ever popular grape. It has plenty of zesty, tropical fruit but unlike its New Zealand cousins there’s a crisp mineral edge to this wine which means it won’t blow your head off. This makes for an extremely pleasant drinking experience, perfect with any leftover smoked salmon but equally good on its own. Like the best of France and NZ Sauv Blanc in one handy little package.
Thankfully Sainsburys hasn’t put all its lovely Christmas wines back up to full price just yet. But they might soon so get your skates on.
Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris £6.75 (usually £9) – Buy Here
Never heard of this? Don’t let that put you off. BE are brilliant at making big, full on Sauvignon Blanc but for those of you wanting a mellower example of this style of wine, look no further (ok you could look at the Boschendal above but bear with me).
This has fresh gooseberry notes like SB but is softer with less overt acidity and a weightier, textural feel in the mouth making it feel really decadent and perfect with pretty much any kind of chicken or fish dish. I predict big things for this grape; get in on the ground floor and find out why for yourself.
Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva £7.75 (usually £10) – Buy Here
I’ve extolled the value for money virtues of the often £5ish CV Rioja Tempranillo and its fresh strawberry and vanilla tones but here is a far more serious contender for just a couple of quid more.
Being a Reserva this wine has spent at least a year in oak barrels and two in bottle and has developed plenty of character in this time. The berry flavours are still there but are deeper and accompanied by rich fig and raisin wrapped up in spicy vanilla. You know you want it.
Here’s a quick tip: Asda’s new ‘Wine Atlas’ range provides some really nice, easy drinking reds and whites including the light, fruity red Frapatto and refreshing citrusy Catarratto, both from Italy. Like many in the range, both wines are under a fiver and any of this range would be ideal for a party as not only do they keep the cost down but they actually taste good. At these prices that’s quite an achievement.
Asda Extra Special (ES) Prosecco £6.50 – Buy Here
The inexorable rise of Prosecco continues. Probably because it’s fresh, appley and very easy to drink but equally because it’s cheap. Here’s a great price on a really nice example so worth stocking up while it’s at a great price instead of just getting whatever’s always cheap (and often nasty).
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne £15 on rollback (usually £30) – Buy Here
What a brilliant buy on what is many of my friends’ ‘go to’ Champagne for special occasions. There’s loads of orchard fruits here, a smooth biscuit texture and crisp lemony finish which brings you back for another sip. Excellent as an aperitif and it rarely lasts as long as the nibbles take to cook but this would go with any canapes and will make your party really go with a bang.
Compared to the other three, Morrisons is really fighting extra hard for your pennies now and probably into the New Year with its range of brilliant wine offers. Trawl their website for your favourites but you could do far worse than shelling out for a bottle or two of these.
Casillero del Diablo Merlot £5 (usually £8) – Buy Here
From the ever reliable Concha Y Toro stable who also make the excellent Cono Sur range, this Chilean Merlot has bags more character than most at twice the price.
A deep, inky purple, this wine has bags of red and black fruits and lovely warming chocolate notes and clove spice. Perfect as an interesting party wine or to accompany any red meat dishes as the nights draw in. Lovely stuff.
Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir £9 (usually £12) – Buy Here
A real treat this, this wine is bursting with ripe red cherry and strawberry flavours in a ridiculously smooth tannin blanket. Lamb is the obvious food choice for this wine but I think it’s worth sipping slowly in front of the fire whilst you laugh at the thought of your friends and colleagues going red in the face as they run up an imaginary hill to nowhere.