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How to get out of your wine rut

Bored of the same old vino choices? Try these delicious alternatives, including a Lambrusco and a sparkling red - seriously!

If you’re anything like me you’re a creature of habit when it comes to wine. Come Friday evening (or, er, any evening to be honest), I’ll automatically reach for a failsafe Marlborough sauvignon blanc or the same old, same old Merlot I bulk buy from the supermarket. Both are delicious and naturally I make light work of draining the bottle, but sometimes I wish I was a tad more adventurous. Yet with branching out comes the risk that you buy something that tastes like vinegar. So I was very pleased to pick the brains of Hugh Taylor, connoisseur ne plus ultra and MD of the brilliantly named Slurp, a wine merchant based in Banbury, and also available online. Slurp has a huge 900 wines on its ever-changing list, ranging from £6 to £300 a bottle, so Hugh is big on variety. If anyone can hoist us out of our wine rut, he’s our man. Let’s go – chin, chin!

 

If your go-to wine is: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Try: A South African chenin blanc or a Picpoul

“It’s a safe bet to grab anything from this region of New Zealand as it’s all so consistent – elsewhere in the world different wines from different wineries vary greatly but with Marlborough sauvignon blancs you know you’ll get something refreshing and zingy that tastes of grapefruit, lime zest, elderflower. That said, I’d urge you to experiment with a South African chenin blanc. It’s a touch sweeter than a classic Marlborough Sauvignon, it’s also unoaked so it’s light and easy to drink, and has notes of green apple and white peach. It goes well with Asian food and fish. You could also go for a Picpoul, made from grapes grown in Languedoc in the South of France and another wine with a similarly refreshing zing.”

 

If your go-to wine is: Prosecco

Try: Crémant

“The world has gone Prosecco mad! Everyone assumes it’s all the same quality but high demand means there’s a lot of not very good stuff around. If you’re going to a party and taking some fizz, go for something a bit under-the-radar and more discerning – a crémant. It’s French sparkling wine that’s not made in the Champagne region but generally made in the same way. I would argue that a good crémant is better than a cheap champagne. Crémant is drier than Prosecco, with less sugar and more complexity, and they start at around £9 so you’re not paying much more.”

Slurp Wines, Banbury

If your go-to wine is: Rioja

Try: A sparkling red (yes really)

“When you’re having pizza, tapas or a charcuterie board, it’s all too easy to reach for the Rioja. But how about something red but fizzy? It can make a simple supper a bit more celebratory and because they’re ruby red in colour they provide a real talking point at a party. They’re not to everyone’s tastes but they tend to have a certain freshness to them, with notes of raspberry and cherry. Check out Contero Brachetto d’Acqui from Italy or a red Lambrusco – I know historically that’s not a wine you’d necessarily choose, but these days they’re worth a look.”

 

If your go-to wine is: A classic French Bordeaux

Try: New World Bordeaux blends

“Bordeaux is a classic French red, one of the finest wines around. We tend to drink it with our Sunday roasts and we sell a lot of it at Christmas. But these days Bordeaux doesn’t have to be French. More and more countries are making Bordeaux blends – have a look at ones from South Africa and New Zealand.  These combine the best of old and new world wines. The new world ones tend to be fruitier than the French as well as better value, but they’re made with Bordeaux grapes which have great structure and layers to their taste.”

 

If your go-to wine is: Pinot Grigio

Try: Côtes de Gascogne or Riesling

“Pinot grigio is often the default option you pick from the drinks menu in a bar or restaurant. And while it’s easy to drink it is a tad boring. An alternative is Côtes de Gascogne – it’s an inland area in south-west France that’s not traditionally a well-known wine-making area but it’s the table wine the locals drink (so might well remind you of summer holidays in France). Something from Domaine du Tariquet is a good bet. It’s dry, crisp and fresh, making it a good aperitif. Also how about Riesling? People might have bad memories of this German white and assume it’s too sweet but there are some stunning dry Rieslings around. There’s a joke that everyone in the wine industry loves Riesling but no one else does. Forget its image problem and give it a try, I say. It’s especially good with Asian food.”

Slurp, 2 Riverside, Tramway Road, Banbury OX16 5TU; 01295 672296. You can also order online at slurp.co.uk

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