Although surprising friends with a new wine is a great feeling, trying anything unusual can be a worry. Here, though, are two unconventional M&S whites that you can buy with confidence – and both of them are on offer.
All these promotions are time limited and expire on 5 October but my judgements on the wines themselves should hold good for around three months.
Click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged image to help you pinpoint the wine on a crowded shelf.
From a well established wine region in Macedonia, this is a blend of two (practically unpronounceable) local grapes that combine perfumed assertiveness (smederevka) with floral spiciness (rkaciteli).
There is an unusual but food friendly savoury edge beneath the orchard fruit texture of 2013 Tikves Smederevka Rkaciteli (£7, the £5 offer reported earlier is no longer available) and the exuberant acidity both grape varieties usually exhibit is reigned in to become simply a gentle quince-based background.
Or coming nearer home
Despite sharing a name with the Roman god of wine, bacchus is not a well known grape but it actually does handsomely (if a tad expensively) in the vineyards of Southern England.
The mellow but flowery 2014 English Lamberhurst Estate Bacchus (£11 instead of £13) has neat tropical fruit touches that mingle nicely with developing acidity, minty red apple fruit and the slightly sweet spices that support it.
Moving to the only mildly unorthodox
My first red recommendation restricts its points of difference to being malbec from Chile (rather than Argentina) and being tenaciously organic.
Warm and mellow, 2015 Emiliana Organic Malbec (£ 7 instead of £9) has lovely, soft, loganberry and plum fruit with firm acidity and suggestions of chocolate, vanilla and clove.
Getting even more conventional
This next commendation actually seems pretty normal – incorporating a New World grape we all know well, produced in red wine’s happy hunting ground in Chile’s Central Valley.
I particularly like the richness and intensity of 2014 Paradiso Shiraz (down from £8 to “two for £12” – or £6 a bottle in Scotland) with its bramble and mulberry depth, fruity aromas and a finish that brings together chocolate, vanilla and sweeter spices.
And extending summer time
The time for light, fruity reds may be disappearing with the swallows and martins but this cheerful Italian red may help keep autumn at bay for a while.
Enjoy the fresh, perfumed and herbal 2013 Barbera D’Asti (£7 instead of £9) with its red cherry and menthol components, acidic liveliness, minimal tannin but deceptively powerful alcohol (14%).
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