I love The Wine Society. There, I’ve said it. Every time I go to their tastings, I am blown away by the strike rate of fabulous wines on offer. They’re classic and they’re quirky and jewels are to be had at every price level. Here are my very top picks but really, you should just work your way through their whole list and buy everyone you know membership for Christmas. No, they are not paying me to say that…
Crazy value reds
The juicy, easy drinking Portuguese Almeida Garrett Entre Serras Beira Interior 2012 is a little bit different and unbelievable value at £5.95. How do they even do that?
If you love the garrigue flavours of silky, Rhone Syrah, you’ll love this fruity, dried herb and violety Grignan les Adhemar Delas 2012. You’ll like it even more when you realise it’s £6.95.
The luscious tannins and mocha fudge notes of classic Californain Cabernet Sauvignon are hard to find for under £10, but the Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley, Three Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 properly over- delivers for its £9.95 price tag.
Get to know what certain grape varieties and wine styles are really supposed to taste like with these excellent examples of type:
Albarino is the Mermaid of wine grapes and the Pazo de Vallarei Albarino 2013 exudes all the right peach-skinned, lemon and sea spray flavours. £8.95
Riesling is the German Supermodel of wine grapes and the Scharzhofberger, Erste Lage, Von Kesselstatt Riesling 2008 is fabulously old school: leafy, balanced and dry. £14.95
Viognier is the voluptuous Sun Goddess of wine grapes and this Domaine Barrou Condrieu 2012 show it off at its best; all luscious and weighty with apricot and banana cream coolness. £29 but worth every penny.
Malbec is the Polo Player of wine grapes and the Fabre et Montmayou, Antiguos Vinedos Malbec 2011 is everything you could want from the grape: concentrated blueberry, chocolate and ozone with thick pink tears that drip down your glass. You can tell it’s Malbec by looking! £11.50
Different and delicious
For something away from the norm, try the Greek Malagousia Tetramythos 2013 for floral, lemon cake aromas with a bone dry and zesty body. A knockout at £9.95.
If you like the tropical notes of the Fiano grape, you’ll love this orange and pineapple-scented, creamy white with floral notes. Made with Sicilian Grillo (the grape) and a splash of Viognier, the Dalia Bianco, Sicilia Feudo Arancio 2013 is excellent value at £7.75.
For a wine that’s super dry, herbal and incredibly refreshing, give some Carignan Gris a go with the Les Perles de Jones Carignan Gris, Cotes Catalanes, 2013. A proper food wine. £16
Fans of savoury reds will love the cool, saline, dark cherry and wild strawberry notes of the Lagrein grape found in spades in the Hofstatter Jospeh Lagrein 2012. Delicious! A foodie wine, for sure. £11.95.
Dinner party reds
The Lopez de Haro Reserva Rioja 2005 looks as elegant and classy as it tastes and for £8.25 a bottle, you can take two to the party!
More label, or rather bottle appeal with this stunning Portuguese red made from a blend of the same grapes that make Port. The Quinta Nova 250th Anniversary Douro red 2011 is figgy pudding all the way! A fabulous statement bottle with wine inside to match, punching well above its weight at £10.50.
Splashing out the £28 on the Demi-Sec Chenin Blanc will win you many friends. The toast and honey, marmalade tang of the Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec Huet Vouvray 2008 with its incredible freshness and unending length are what dreams are made of.
It’s worth noting that if you want to do tasting tours of Burgundy and Bordeaux, then the Wine Society is also a good place to start. There are many different styles to explore, all great examples of type. Just too many to mention here!
Enjoy. I know you will.