In the name of dedicated journalism, DAVID PARKE and friends try the cheapest of the cheap in the wine stakes.
If you’re as strapped-for-cash as I am, but still looking for an enjoyable tipple without having to take a bail-out from the European Central Bank, help is at hand!
Our four guinea pigs were 1st year students Tom, Anna, Lizzie and Abi, aka ‘Bollinger’, due to her penchant for buying expensive alcohol. What follows are their experiences ordeals with the three of the cheapest bottles of plonk that Cambridge has to offer.
1) Pinot Grigio Veneto, Selwyn College Bar, £4.80
Fairly representative of every college’s under-a-fiver white. Described as having “an intense and delicate flavour” and “pairing nicely with seafood and cheese cracker combinations”, let’s find out what out testers had to say…
Anna: Oh Jesus, that’s intense alright – a bit like being hit in the face with a potent fart.
Lizzie: I can see where they’re getting the ‘seafood’ from. There’s a definite aftertaste of crabsticks.
Tom: *takes a small sip* It’s not actually that bad… *aftertaste hits him* Oh God, what is that?!
Bollinger: *smelling the top of the bottle* That. Smells. Like. Feet.
Final verdict: If you like the taste of greasy fish, you’ll love this.
2) Kooliburra reserve Shiraz, Aldi, £3.99.
The label tells us that this wine displays “an intensity of red berries, leading to black olives, cloves and spice” and that “the finish lingers”. Our tasters will confirm that once again, the finish most definitely lingers.
Not quite right for your first date
Anna: Well I can definitely taste the olives. And maybe a little bit of vinegar too.
Lizzie: Are you sure this is even wine?
Tom: It tastes like the Mahal.
Bollinger: *runs to the sink to spit it out*
Final verdict: More like a gone-off Greek salad than a wine, this is probably one to avoid.
3) Canti Merlot Sangiovese Sicilia, Sainsbury’s, £4.99
Representing the higher end of cheap vino, a rather modest description on the bottle informs us that this has a “distinct bouquet of berries”. After the previous two disappointments, could this turn out to be a hit with our tasters?
No need to be careful with this one
Anna: I’ve definitely had worse, but if anyone bought this for me, I’d probably be insulted.
Lizzie: The only berry this smells like is Halle Berry, if she hadn’t showered for a week.
Tom: That’s a bit harsh… although I’d probably only drink it if pennied.
Bollinger: Please can we open a bottle of something that doesn’t taste like fish, olives or Hollywood actresses? I’m not sure if my palate can take much more …
Final verdict: Possibly the best out of the three, we still needed a plug hole to pour the rest of it down.
So, when it comes to wine Cambridge perhaps isn’t the best place to tighten your belt. It’s worth investing in a bottle worth at least £6.99 if you want to enjoy your evening, and probably £9.99 if you want to feel like ever drinking again the next day.
If you go to a posh college, there might even be a wine bursary you could apply for to fund your amatory shenanigans. Otherwise, stick to cocktails or beer – there’s far less chance of projectile vomit.