Best buys

Mostly wine but occasionally beer, whisky, gin and other drinks that I think represent really good value. Sometimes because they're on promotion, at other times because they're exceptional quality.

Wine of the week: Planeta Mamertino 2015

Wine of the week: Planeta Mamertino 2015

One of the most captivating wine books I’ve read is Nina Caplan’s The Wandering Vine which explores the footprint the Romans left on the wine growing areas of Europe. Part wine guide, part travelogue, part personal journey and exploration of her Jewish roots, Caplan traces the interest in wine she derived from her late father.

Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2017

Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2017

Tomorrow the annual Fairtrade Fortnight starts in the UK. I wish I could get more enthusiastic about Fairtrade wine but so many of them are underwhelming. Happily this wine which is made in South Africa is an exception: not mindblowing - you wouldn’t expect that for £5 - but a more than decent bottle for the price.

What champagne to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine's Day

What champagne to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine's Day

Do you need to splash out on champagne for Valentine’s Day - and if so how much do you need to pay for it? You may not realise quite what pressure you’re under to spend over the odds

Six wines to snap up from Lidl

Six wines to snap up from Lidl

Lidl has a new selection of wines in store - one of its regular limited edition releases which generally last for a couple of months although popular wines can sell out more quickly.

 Little Pomona Old Man & The Bee: an exciting new cider

Little Pomona Old Man & The Bee: an exciting new cider

With the rise and rise of craft beer quality cider has been somewhat eclipsed of late but this beautifully made - and packaged - cider deserves a place on everyone’s dinner table.

Domaine Joel Delaunay L’Esprit des Dames Touraine Chenonceaux 2014

Domaine Joel Delaunay L’Esprit des Dames Touraine Chenonceaux 2014

This was recommended by the manager at my local Oddbins in Bristol and I really love it.

 Aldi Exquisite Collection Fino Sherry

Aldi Exquisite Collection Fino Sherry

If you’re a fino fan you’ll love this classic super-dry, tangy sherry - one of three incredibly well-priced sherries Aldi has released in its Exquisite Collection range at just £5.99 for 50cl. (The others are an amontillado and a cream sherry - both good too but slightly sweeter than the classic Spanish style)

Gin of the month: Albury sloe and damson gins

Gin of the month: Albury sloe and damson gins

There are not one but two gins of the month this month - both limited editions from the same distiller Silent Pool in Surrey. One’s a damson and the other a sloe gin and they come in 50cl bottles at - gulp - £30 a bottle.

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

I’ve been focussing quite a lot on alcohol-free drinks recently so I headed along to the Mindful Drinking festival in Spitalfields yesterday where I discovered this brilliant range of low alcohol (0.5%) beers.

 The Ivy Gin and Fevertree clementine tonic

The Ivy Gin and Fevertree clementine tonic

It’s two for one in the bottle slot today - a terrific new gin and the perfect matching tonic.

Good bottles to celebrate Hallowe'en

Good bottles to celebrate Hallowe'en

If you’re looking for a bottle to celebrate Hallowe’en on Tuesday here’s couple that hit the spot perfectly.

Colomban Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minervois

Colomban Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minervois

If you’re a fan of dessert wines here’s an absolutely cracking bargain from Lidl’s latest limited edition release which went on sale on Thursday.

Zünftler Black Forest Cherry Schnapps

Zünftler Black Forest Cherry Schnapps

If you’re planning to celebrate the start of Oktoberfest this weekend (yes, in September - I *know*) snap up this full-size bottle of Zünftler cherry schnapps from Lidl for just £14.99

 Wine of the week: Tesco finest McLaren Vale GSM 2015

Wine of the week: Tesco finest McLaren Vale GSM 2015

If you’re mystified by the initials GSM they stand for grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, three Rhône grape varieties which are often blended together in Australia to make generous hearty reds.

 Wine of the week: Terre di Faiano Primitivo Salento 2015

Wine of the week: Terre di Faiano Primitivo Salento 2015

Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.

Wine of the week: Black Star 2016

Wine of the week: Black Star 2016

This is the second of two really good German reds I’ve come across this summer*. It may surprise you that Germany makes red wine at all but it now makes up a significant amount of what the country produces

Gin of the month: Audemus Esprit d'Eté

Gin of the month: Audemus Esprit d'Eté

If you've developed a bit of a collector's habit when it comes to gin here's a truly limited edition one of which only 200 bottles were originally made

 Wine of the Week: Weiber Crémant d’Alsace

Wine of the Week: Weiber Crémant d’Alsace

If you’re popping into Lidl this weekend to buy the wines I’ve recommended in my Guardian column*, try a bottle of this inexpensive sparkling wine too.

 Morrisons The Best Marques de Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2011

Morrisons The Best Marques de Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2011

I’m flagging this up not because I think you’re all going to love it - mature white wines are not for everyone* - but because I think it’s a fantastic achievement for a supermarket to stock a six year old wine of such quality in its own label range.

Drink of the week: Sawanotsuru sake

Drink of the week: Sawanotsuru sake

Always on the ball Aldi announced this week that it had added a sake to its drinks range. Not quite the bargain it first appears when you discover the bottle is £3.99 for just 300ml but that’s enough for two and interesting nonetheless.

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