Constraints imposed this decade by Covid and by inflation mean that more people than before now “eat in” rather than go out.
However, most of us do miss the fun, slight adventure and sheer sociability restaurant visits usually bring.
Equally, though, eating in the comfort of wherever you call home is less time consuming and certainly saves money.
But, I suggest, now is an ideal time to add a little of the luxury and adventure to eating and entertaining at home that we usually get from restaurants.
Specialist foods is one way to do that – and so is spending a little more on the wine being drunk.
What you would pay for a restaurant house wine can get you a more than decent quality wine to drink at home.
“Ah!” I hear the doubters say, “but isn’t there a risk of disappointment by moving towards unfamiliar and more expensive wines?”.
Yes, there can be, but that is where posts like today’s come into their own.
I pinpoint wine that represents a step up from “conventional MidWeek Wines” but ones I think you can buy with confidence.
My Sunday Best choices are well-made, special occasion wines that offer something distinctive but still represent value for money.
As a sort of “Halfway House” my Friday Night Treats perform a similar service but at a slightly lower price point.
I hope that all today’s selections work well for you.
Also today, is news of a “bottle appearance” experiment at Waitrose.
As is normal here, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to guide you straight to the right wine on shelf or web page.
Friday Night Treat
2021 Alamos Chardonnay (£9 at Sainsbury’s – remember their multi-buy promotion though – and 13.5% abv):
- Attractive, great value Argentinian chardonnay.
- Mendoza’s climate helps its components integrate nicely.
- Apple, melon and apricot flavours abound.
- Oak provides initial aromatics and creamy smoothness.
- Meanwhile, lime-based acidity adds vibrancy.
While Argentina’s Mendoza region is linked in most minds with malbec, never overlook the quality chardonnay produced there.
Very warm days but low night-time temperatures allow the grapes to ripen fully yet retain perfect levels of acidic freshness.
That, coupled with the measured use of oak, create nicely balanced results often (as here) for surprisingly modest money.
Brilliantly balanced with a smooth, creamy texture, its initial oaky aromas lead into nutty apricot, cox’s apple and ripe melon flavours.
Accompanying constituents include freshness inducing lime acidity, pie crust influences and an elegant savoury finish.
And a Sunday Best companion
2021 Vinha do Fava Touriga Nacional (from £10.99 at Laithwaites and 14%):
- Kindly priced red wine from a lesser-known region.
- Dark in colour and rich in flavour.
- Centred on plum, cherry and raspberry flavours.
- Its tannin is gentle, but its acidity is firm.
- Clove, cocoa and smoky hints complete the picture.
Investments in vineyards and winemaking in Portugal’s Setubal Peninsula – over the bridge from Lisbon – have significantly enhanced the wines made there.
Prices do not (yet) reflect that significant progress and this touriga nacional does indeed punch well above its £11 price tag.
Inky and indulgently rich, it is centred around explosive plum, cherry and raspberry flavours.
That foundation is ably supported by firm acidity (but gentle tannin) along with clove, mint and cocoa hints and a smoky savoury edge.
Keep Taking the Capsules?
Waitrose is experimenting with an initiative to remove the normal “capsules” – those plastic and foil sleeves around the neck and top – from four bottles in their Loved & Found range.
I can see why they are trialling this; capsules increase costs, are difficult to re-cycle and can be troublesome to remove.
In addition, their original purpose (protecting the cork from damage or contamination and reducing counterfeiting) has largely been superseded – especially with the FSC cork used for these specific bottles.
A bit of me has twinges of regret though.
Well-designed capsules can make the bottle look more elegant and attractive.
Despite the resulting “Bistro” appearance, a “naked” bottle top does look strange (and, possibly, cheap).
Capsules can also provide reassurance that no tampering has taken place.
Overall, then, it will be interesting to see what reaction this trial provokes.
Call in again on Monday when the spotlight falls on Top Tips that offer especially good value probably at a store near you.
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