No one falls in love by choice; it’s by chance. No one stays in love by chance; it’s by work. And no one falls out of love by chance; it’s by choice.
The problem arises however when people have too many choices, causing bad choices to arise. So, when it comes to wine, how do we choose? The supermarket aisles are flowing with so many options, the off-licences can sometimes be daunting and confusing. What ensues therefore is often the safe choice, a grape like Merlot that we all know, or indeed a vineyard that is recognisable like Wolf Blass. There is nothing wrong with these choices but with so many options out there, might I boldly suggest that you may be missing out?
Let me begin by saying that I am indeed no “expert” in wine. I’m sure that I would not win any taste tests, and I certainly am no sommelier. What I do know is that there is a huge variety of wines out there for you all to try. Many of them I have tried and the hope is that this post will make the process of picking out your next bottle of red a less daunting, and perhaps even an enjoyable task. This is aided by making every suggestion here less than €10 which again should hopefully take the pressure off you feeling that you’re making “the wrong choice”.
Another word of warning from the beginning, “Beware the Supermarket Special Offer”. There are excellent offers to be experienced quite often in the supermarkets but you also need to be aware of cheeky marketing techniques. Under Irish consumer law, any product needs to be listed at a particular price for 28 consecutive days before it can be put on sale using that price. Therefore, as I have seen, supermarkets would list a bottle at, for example, €18 for 28 days to then put it on promotion “At Half Price” for €9. This has the potential of making people feel like they are getting an excellent offer despite you really only getting a wine at about €9 quality. There is nothing illegal about this practice, it’s just slightly disingenuous so just be aware when availing of offers that seem too good to be true. They quite often are.
Most of you will have tried and know a Chilean or Australian Merlot and perhaps consider that your “go to” wine. Perhaps a Rioja or something French if you’re feeling frisky, and head straight for Châteauneuf-du-Pape at Christmas or a special occasion. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made from up to possibly 18 different grape (red and white) varieties. Viognier, a white grape, is often blended with the spicy Syrah (or Shiraz) red grape to make a softer, rounder wine. The point I’m trying to make is that you should not be put off by a variety you don’t know. There are many varieties, grapes, producers, and countries out there making excellent and different wines. Stepping out of your comfort zone every now and then could pleasantly surprise you. Many regular wine drinkers had not heard of Malbec up until a number of years ago. This grape has since rocketed in popularity and I recommend two in this post. You never know, the next “Malbec” could be waiting for you on the shelves of your supermarket or independent wine merchant.
Starting off with my recommendations, my first choice is what I consider to be my best all round value for money wine, and it is Toro Loco from Aldi. Priced at €6.29, it is not going to be the best red you have ever experienced or will taste in your life but at that price I challenge you to find better. Up until recently 100% Tempranillo, it is now 75% Tempranillo and 25% Bobal, both Spanish grape varieties. Dark berries and a hint of strawberries make this a fruity but full-bodied and very drinkable wine, and despite its dark fruit it’s lighter than you’d think. At this price I think it represents excellent value.
Second choice is again a Tempranillo, this time an Old Vines Tesco Finest brand. Currently on offer in store at €9 until the 6th November, this wine is again fruity but with a little more structure and body than the Toro Loco. It can RRP anywhere from €12 (currently) to €18. If you can pick it up at this current price I think it’s good grape for your buck.
Going back to Aldi, their Exquisite Collection is worth checking out from time to time and can be great value. Recently they had a very good Côtes Du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu, which at €9.99 was plump with cherry flavours yet all the while like Côtes Du Rhône typically soft and creamy. If it’s in your Aldi (it’s not in mine at the moment) I suggest trying out a bottle. Otherwise the Australian Shiraz at €8.49 from the same Exquisite Collection is also worth considering. It’s typically spicy from the Shiraz and with its blackberry and plummy flavours is a real autumnal wine, and a good match to my Chorizo Pasta Recipe. Aldi recently, and still currently, have a French wine promotion. The Château de Caussagues from the Languedoc region priced at €6.99 is fantastic value for money and if you are lucky enough to still find any at your local Aldi pick them up. You won’t be disappointed. Then send me a bottle.
Malbec, a grape variety not know by many up until a couple of years ago, has rightfully grown in popularity since. Originally a French grape, it was taken on by the Argentinians and has gained its popularity from there. A full bodied and juicy wine, it’s an excellent match for red meat, especially a steak. The Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec, on offer at Tesco for €9 is a good introduction if you are new to the grape. If you’re looking for another to try, Aldi’s Uco Valley Malbec at €8.79 is another good option.
Finally, Lidl’s Chianti Riserva 2012 at €8.49 does require a little more work than the previously recommended but is worth the effort. Being served with food allows the true flavours of this wine to sing through. The other wines on this list can be enjoyed with food or as equally on their own. However, this Chianti does benefit from pairing with food such as red meats or rustic pasta dishes. Despite the work, for the price, this wine is worth the effort.