A beginner’s guide to buying good wine: For starters

Buying wine is hard and really easy to get wrong, so read this yeah?


We’ve all done it. Whether you’re buying 2 for £5 Italian Soave for pre-drinks, a bottle of French red to let that lucky lady or lad know how special they are or some Bristol Cream for your nan’s 70th, you sheepishly make your way down the wine aisle trying to find a bottle of the good stuff – one in the sweet spot where the price meets how expensive the label looks. Your eyes fix on a bottle. “Is this it? Is this the one? It’s Italian it’s red and it’s only a fiver, they make good wine right? It’s a fiver!”

Clutching the bottle tight you scurry all the way home excited and thinking “God I’m clever these wine buffs know nothing”. Excitedly opening the bottle with a classy pop of the cork only to be met with total disappointment and a blend that can only be described as Ribena with a healthy dose of anti-freeze tearing through the first few layers of your mouth due to biblical acidity. What went wrong?




The disappointment sends us back to our old friend beer like a toddler to his mother, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re thinking of treating your loved one to a bottle of vino this Valentine’s Day and don’t want to end up with something that would be better drizzled over your salad then you’re in the right place.



De Bortoli – Family Selection Pinot Grigio – 2013, 11.5 %

Generally when we think of Pinot Grigio we naturally assume that the wine is Italian but that is not always the case. This white wine is a single variety Pinot Grigio but the wine originates from a vineyard in South Eastern Australia which has been family run since 1928. Australia has a hot climate and this does affect the end style of the wine whatever variety of grape the producer decides to use. Often with white wines produced in hotter climates riper stone fruit flavours such as peach and other tropical notes can appear. Wines that are grown in a European climate will often have quite different characteristics such as fresh green apple and other much crisper flavour profiles. Serve this wine ice cold and it’s extremely refreshing.


On the nose the wine is fresh and crisp. Its scent jumps out the glass and is very refreshing – full of citrus and tart green apple notes, it’s delicate but very complex. On the palate it’s dry and acidic but it’s not quite what I expected – a lot of Pinot Grigio can have very aggressive acidity and be very attacking – this wine isn’t like that. It’s far softer in terms of acidity and has way more fruit and herby notes than its Italian counterparts. The wine is light bodied – don’t get me wrong it still has the acidity there but it’s much lighter and allows your palate to explore the fruitier side of this grape variety without being totally overwhelmed. It has good length to it and is an enjoyable and very drinkable wine.

With regards to food I would say that lighter dishes such as mozzarella salad or any sort of anti-pasti dish would work really well with this wine but at the same time just served chilled as an aperitif it could hold its own. The acid in the wine works well with oily or cheesy dishes. De Bortoli Pinot Grigio is available from Waitrose and is reduced from £7.49 to £5.99.


Chateau Pigoudet – La Chapelle – 2013, 13%

When it comes to rosé, people are often split down the middle. There are two distinct methods of making rosé wine. The first, the Saignée method, is to lightly press the red grapes to create a much lighter wine that is delicate and not quite a red but not quite a white. The second is to simply create a white wine and add some red to gain the colour you require. Luckily this wine has had some effort put into it and is made in the Saignee method. This French wine is a blend of four varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz and Cinsault. The grapes are grown on sun drenched slopes close to the river Durance and benefit from large periods of direct sunshine bathing the grapes in a warm yellow blanket and creating amazing fruity flavours in the wine. This wine needs to be served ice cold to get the best from it in terms of flavour and aroma.

On the nose the wine is clean and crisp: it has a peachy aroma and is full of ripe fruity notes but also has a distinct citrus note cutting through making it very refreshing. The wine is dry and has good crisp acidity on the palate. It’s very crisp with apricot and rose petal flavours washing across your palate. This fruitiness is then countered with acidity cutting through and making the wine refreshing and extremely quaffable. I think with regards to a food match I would recommend a Chicken Liver pate, Goats cheese salad or something that would allow the acidity of the wine to cut through it. The wine is available to purchase from Majestic at a price of £8.99 this is a tad more than the previous wine but the quality level definitely matches the jump in price. Only issue with Majestic is it’s a 6 bottle minimum spend …nice one Majestic, proper student friendly.