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“Party Wines” if Money is Tight

Today we add to the collection of "bottom shelf" wines that seem to justify promotion.

Last Thursday, I encouraged you to try wines a little up the price ladder but, possibly, reduce quantities to keep actual spending constant.

That remains an important goal.

I recognise, however, that there are times when a basic, no-frills, inexpensive wine is all that is needed.

In an apt phrase, MidWeeker Dave Cronin terms these “party wines”.

My “Operation Trawlerman” was an effort to find wines such as those – since they often sit on the bottom shelves of wine aisles.

First, though, I must pause to – in corporate speak – “manage expectations”.

The criteria here do not involve seeking out the finest wines that money can buy – rather the task is finding the best of the rest.

Sadly, most wine at the lowest price points have some reason they cannot be recommended.

That can be because they are unexcitingly one dimensional with poorly defined fruit -or lack texture or are clumsy and out of balance.

Here, though, are a couple that skilfully avoid deficiencies such as those I describe.

One is from Morrisons and the other from Tesco and both are white (as I featured reds in the last Trawlerman piece)..

In the usual way, hyperlinks and pictures are used where possible to help you locate the bottle in question.

A widely available grape

2022 Vista Castelli Trebbiano D’Abruzzo (£4.75 at Tesco and 11% abv)::

Versatile enough to be a junior blending partner in many wines yet also to make cognac in France, trebbiano is easily overlooked.

Nevertheless, its flavour range (from citrus to peach) does allow it to make appealing everyday wine like this.

As a bonus the large number of its vines in Italy mean availability is not an issue and this keeps prices down.

Light bodied and bright, it offers uncomplicated grapefruit, baked apple and peach flavours coupled with gentle sherbet lemon acidity.

There is also just a trace of salinity to add contrast.

NB: I am afraid I messed up on the first edition of this post and wrongly described this as a Morrisons wine. Apologies to anyone misled and to Tesco for selling them short.

Staying in Italy.

2022 Soave (£4.99 at Morrisons and 10.5%):

At its zenith, Veneto’s soave can be a superstar – defying the somewhat prosaic reputation of its garganega base.

While basic level versions never scale those heights, they can – as here – provide attractive, fresh and textured everyday wine.

Opening with attractive blossom aromas, these lead invitingly into textured apple and greengage flavours.

Further elements emerge that include a vague savouriness containing mild herb influences while everything is given a final turbo charge by fresh acidity.   

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10 Responses

  1. Nipped down to my local Morrisons this morning on the pretext of getting some salad. Sadly neither of these was on their shelves.

    Another time, maybe?

  2. Soave Brian, now there’s an old friend!

    40 years ago when regularly touring to Germany, at Aldi there, (that was yet to raise its head in Britain), apart from cheaper and cheerful home produced bottles of Hock and Mosel, there were a few around-Europe generics stocked as well. I remember the Soave at around DM2.20 .. a £1 back then, that counted towards my meagre ”duty free” quota to bring home!

    There was a Frascati too at slightly more money. It seemed to me that the ethos of not ignoring wine from other countries, there was a basic Bordeaux as well and a Bardolino, reinforced the nature and advantages of cross border trading and giving people choices regardless Germany had masses of its own stuff to go at.

    The relationship developed over decades with work across northern Italy as well and repeated holidays around Lake Garda and Verona, refuelling as we went on the doorstep of production with these wines.

    This Morrison’s bottle at £4.99 all these years later looks more than affordable but might well have been overlooked on the bottom shelf had you not mentioned it and are saying it’s very drinkable. Thank you. A £fiver for this Soave and £10 for some remarkable TWS, free-delivery treats and my budgeting is served around the average of £7.50 per bottle.

    Just to say, at TWS, the superior Spätburgunder, Bio, Ruppertsberg is ”back in stock”. Well not exactly. It’s the new vintage, 2023, and it won’t be available to ship until the end of April. Fingers crossed for it being as convincing and authentic as the 2022 was, for me the best at price-point £9.95 Burgundy/Pinot Noir substitute I’ve ever had.

  3. Sorry to hear that – the Soave should be in most stores even though it partner may be scarcer – about to be “de-listed” I fear. I hope you didn’t forget the lettuce in your disappointment.

  4. To be fair Soave did go through a disappointing patch a few years ago but it is certainly back on song now. Frascati is less common these days, but there are still a few good ones about if you can track them down.

  5. I have been looking out for the previously recommended Lidl 270 Alta Expression Ribeiro Red.It has not appeared in any of the three Wrexham Lidls or the Chester Lidl.
    Has anyone else had the same issue?

  6. Hi Brian,

    Your mention of Morrisons Soave brought back some memories of Trawling for “Cooking Wines”.

    It is very rare for a wine in our household to be relegated to Cooking Wine status. I happily share credit for this to yourself and other knowledgeable MidWeekers’ reliable recommendations.

    So I periodically get a request for a bottle of Cooking Wine, either white or red. Quite a few years back a bottle of the very inexpensive Morrisons Soave was bought for this purpose. In fact it tasted surprisingly very nice, and research discovered that it was a well known “hidden gem”, and often recommended. So now I sometimes pick a wild card wine seeking another such success.

    Just last week a bottle of cooking red was added to my Asda list. Crawling around the bottom shelf found a Le Manoir du Baron Pinot Noir at £4.95. Although would normally choose a more heavyweight red for cooking, was intrigued by this and bought a bottle. When opened it was rather thin and light but had a faint PN nose, and tasted like PN. Not a hidden gem, but an honest attempt to make an unpretentious Pinot Noir “Party Wine”! I rather guiltily enjoyed it.

    Of course a flaw in my strategy is that the cooking wine can sometimes end up in the Cook rather than the cooking.

  7. Yeah Paul … the 270 Alta Ribiero doesn’t exist in my stores either! But then not everything on The Tours does at any time …. but unadvertised stuff IS there.

    The Lord and Lidl move in mysterious ways ….

    1. I raised this with Lidl HQ and here is what they tell me …. “Our Wine Tour collections are available nationwide but stock levels of each wine can differ so it may be that these top recommended wines sold out first if their specific stores stocked fewer bottles.”

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