Friday, October 29, 2010

Pukka Pinot Grigio

I must confess Pinot Grigio doesn't really rock my boat. There are some terrible examples around and I rarely buy it but I'm almost tempted by this offer from Waitrose on the pukka Forte Alto Pinot Grigio 2009, currently reduced from £7.49 to £4.99 until next Wednesday (November 3rd). Or even cheaper if you buy it by the case from Waitrose Wine Direct (for £56.88 or £4.74 a bottle).

It's made in one of the best growing areas in Italy - the Trentino Alto Adige and apparently comes from vineyards that are managed in an environmentally friendly way and on which a minimum of pesticides are applied. It's matured - as you'd expect - in stainless steel to keep the wine clean and crisp and is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Pinot Grigio's virtue (apart from the fact that it's only 12%) is that great with Italian vegetable and fish dishes - I'd happily drink it with antipasti, pastas with light creamy or seafood sauces and risotto or with fried or grilled fish. It would be great with a fritto misto.

The label's quite fun too which makes it look like you've spent a lot more on the wine than you have. I like that.

Rating: ***

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Clare Valley Riesling bargain

I love Clare Valley riesling but it's become quite pricey. But if you act fast you can pick up a real bargain in Asda this week.

Their Extra Special range is on offer at 25% off until Sunday which brings the cost of their Australian Clare Valley riesling down to £5.98 instead of £7.98 (not that that's a bad price given it's made by Knappstein)

I'm not sure that all of it is the 2008 vintage which has acquired that seductive kerosene (yes, really) and lime character that characterises riesling from this part of South Australia - in fact in this instance it's more like lime pickle which immediately makes me think it would be good with Indian food. A selection of veggie curries and dals maybe as it's suitable for vegetarians. Or a korma, mild green Thai curry or Thai-ish prawn stir-fry.

I haven't had the chance to taste my way through the Extra Special wines recently but not all of them are this good so don't go mad on the strength of this recommendation. The 'Extra Special' Gavi is quite dull, for example. For a full round-up check out my colleague Tim Atkin's blog here.

Rating: ****

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Credit Crunch Drinking is back!

The great thing about journalism is that it changes the whole time. One moment you’re writing about student recipes, the next about beer or wine. I’ve always been one for serial enthusiasms so I’ve blogged - and still blog - about cheese and frugal eating and about odd ingredients, restaurants, books or drinks that take my fancy (Food & Wine Finds).

Credit Crunch Drinking seemed like a good idea when I started the blog back in 2008 but I was more involved in food at the time and found it hard to keep up. But I’m now resurrecting it because I’ve become the Guardian’s new wine writer (Saturdays in the Weekend mag) and have - unsurprisingly - found a fair number of my readers want to see the column focus on sub £6 wines.

There’s also a demand for wines that aren’t stocked by supermarkets - and are therefore going to be more expensive - so I’ve been giving a bit of thought about how to square the two. Not easy in 400 odd words! I also have to write my article two and a half weeks ahead which means it’s hard to let readers now about last minute promotions.

So this is where I’m going to pass on info about good buys that don’t make the column - mainly wine but also beer, spirits and cider when I come across them.

The first bit of news is that Asda has knocked 25% off its Extra Special range until the end of the month (i.e. Sunday) and that Sainsbury’s has 25% off all their wines for a week from today (until November 3rd) if you buy six or more bottles. That includes fizz - which brings their very drinkable own brand Blanc de Noirs champagne (***) down to £12.74 a bottle - and wines that are already on promotion. If you like to plan ahead now’s a good time to get your Christmas drinking sorted.