Saturday, 14 January 2017

Winter wines on a budget

January is a tough time for the average wine lover. There are few excuses to celebrate and, post-Christmas, there is an underlying feeling that perhaps one should lay off the booze for a while, for the good of the liver - and wallet.

On the liver front, without going into too much laborious detail, 2 or 3 alcohol free days a week year-round are what’s required. A month-long moratorium on drinking is perhaps admirable, but will not benefit your liver in the longer term if you simply then return to a daily glass or two thereafter.

And for the wallet…here are some wines that can help to banish the winter blues, and which won’t give your bank balance a bruising.

Mesquiriz Navarra Rosado 2015, Spain - £3.99, Lidl
At this price, this winter-weight Spanish rosé will bring a smile to the lips of any skint wine drinker. The generous strawberry fruit with a little kick of white pepper makes is a perfect midweek wine for bangers and mash.

Trebuchet Chardonnay 2015, South Africa - £5.99 (mix six price until 30 Jan), Majestic
This South African Chardonnay tastes much more expensive than it is, especially at the reduced price. It has creamy fruit with a zesty lemon finish.

Tesco finest* St Mont 2014, France - £6, Tesco
The direction that Tesco’s wine range is heading doesn’t give much to cheer about, but this long-lived member of their own label finest* range is a welcome survivor of recent culls to the list. This blend of Southwest France’s native white varieties Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Petit Manseng and Arrufiac deliver a wine of character, combining grapefruit zing and apricot-tinged fruit.

Casal de Ventozela 2015, Vinho Verde, Portugal - £6.99 (mix six price), Majestic
This medal-winning Vinho Verde is fresh and spritzy with lemon and herbal flavours – a tonic for the jaded.

Setze Gallets Garnacha Monastrell, Spain 2014 - £7.25, The Wine Society
Full-flavoured, fruity and with a level of class that belies its price, this is perfect winter comfort wine. From the sunny climes of Valencia in Spain and aged in amphorae, this red combines the dense dark fruit of Monastrell with the rich liveliness of old vine Garnacha.

Falanghina Sassi del Mare 2015, Italy - £7.99, Lidl
This is part of Lidl’s Christmas wine collection, which you should be able to find until the next collection hits their shelves from 26th January onwards. Try this gem of an Italian white, from Campania, for a taste of springtime honeysuckle in winter.

Tesco finest* Tingleup Riesling 2015, Australia - £8, Tesco
Another long-standing Tesco listing, the wine’s flavour somehow matches the its name – though Tingleup is simply the name of the region of origin in Western Australia. Fresh, juicy lime fruit and waxiness combine in a wine which is dry but never austere.

Mesta Organic Old Vine Tempranillo 2015, Spain - £8, M&S
The same red grape, Tempranillo, as Rioja, but in a richer, riper style that is full of fruit with an edge of tomato leaf -  and without oak.

Zalze Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier 2015, South Africa - £8.29, Waitrose
For people who like their winter reds to pack a punch of both flavour and alcohol, this delivers the necessary with full-flavoured, juicy fruit.

Blason du Rhône 2015, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France - £8.99, Waitrose
The word “Villages” in the name is an important one, signifying a step up in quality from straight Côtes du Rhône. This soothing wine is soft and smooth with strawberry fruit and a hint of herbs on the finish.