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Top Tips to See Off Dry January

Today’s Top Tips involve an impressive Portuguese red, one of those re-discovered Italian whites and, in case you forgot, Burns Night whisky.

Limbering up for the return of the usual twice weekly posts next month, today’s content involves more Top Tip choices.

One is a terrific red table wine from prime port country.

The other is one of the “almost forgotten” Italian white wine varieties (like fiano and falanghina,) now being given TLC by winemakers there – and responding accordingly.

Either should offer a gentle way back next week for returning “Dry January heroes”.

And, as a bonus item, praise is also heaped on a very kindly priced malt whisky because today is, of course, Burns Night.

As is normal here, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to guide you straight to the right wine on shelf or web page.

So let’s get to grips with that red

2021 Azinhaga de Ouro Tinto Reserva (£6.99 at Lidl and 13.5% abv):

Although we shall look at the new Lidl Wine Tour in a week or so, it was nice to select something from their core range this time.

Aromatic and medium bodied, this lovely red from Portugal’s Douro Valley is centred on plum and cherry flavours tinged with violet influences.

These are neatly complemented by good acidity and suggestions of graphite, vanilla and dark chocolate, but limited tannin.

Now a stroll on the gentle side with a white

2022 Taste the Difference Pecorino (£7.75 at Sainsbury’s – but it may be on offer – and 12%): 

Although there is, of course, a similarly named cheese, this pecorino relates to a grape.

It is one of several traditional varieties saved from oblivion by the resurgent interest in Italy’s indigenous grapes.

Pleasantly scented and light in texture, this example from Central Italy – where it does especially well – exhibits bright, red apple, quince and white currant flavours.

Support comes in the form of fresh lemon acidity, a faint savouriness and hints of basil to provide a crisp and lively white wine.

Top Tip Bonus

Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt Whisky (£17.99 at Aldi and the customary 40% abv):

In case you need a “last minute” whisky for tonight, try this Aldi special which, to me, offers exceptional value for money.

Beautifully rounded with just a suspicion of sweetness, it has an attractive foundation of cereal and honey flavours.

Then come the more subtle supplementary components which, here, involve gentle earthy aromas along with suggestions of walnuts, figs and barley sugar sweeties.

NB:- This may be shown as out of stock on the retailer’s website but should still be available in many physical stores

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14 Responses

  1. Hello Brian, I have recently signed up for your emails, honest reviews are what we need, thank you. I haven’t tried the Lidl Duoro offering, but I will now. I can also recommend Animus from Aldi.

    Changing the subject, I have been pestered for weeks by Warehouse Wines, so eventually I bought a case. Itvwas all very disappointing, nothing was “stunning” or “sensational”. I have to put them in the same category as Naked Wines. So it is back to the supermarkets (with your recommendations of course) and the good old Wine Society.

  2. Thanks for those kind words, David and welcome aboard. As you say, Aldi’s Animus is a good option for a sound Portuguese red – this Douro is a little fuller, but equally smooth. I know very little about Warehouse Wine but certainly agree that The Wine Society is a good choice for bottles that actually are “stunning” and “sensational”.

  3. Yes I have tried it and would happily recommend it – although, for me, it is on the top edge for price at £8.99. Here are my (unedited) Tastings notes.
    Fresh nose; savoury twist; apple peel; good lime acidity; pithy; medium bodied; clean; gently herbal; tangerine; bright; rounded; quince; white currant.

  4. Interesting that email from David L-E that sparks something with me.

    Once bitten … maybe twice … we often don’t learn. I know for me it’s been hard over the years not succumbing to the Naked/Warehouse Wines/blah blah whoever, hitting on us with we-have-dead-cheap-fantastic-wine, but it hardly ever works out like that. If it seems too good to be true then 99% of the time it probably is. Some bottom shelf at Aldi or Lidl’s Cimarosa range will deliver way better sometimes, even more cheaply, if cost is a big issue.

    TWS delivers in spades for me when they sell what they do … OK, but at not-cheap prices … but FREE delivery for any quantity that I think is the biggest bonus from them. I read a review and fancy the specific bottle and it comes very quickly for only the price advertised, once a paid-up Society member.

    I will still buy some supermarket stuff obviously if/when it’s punted on a site like MWW where I value the recommendation both from Brian and his contributors. And I’ll use the Decanter Weekday offerings as a yardstick too. Again, likely to be a bit more money but I’ve decided to do drink-less-go-for-better-quality and for the last 2-3 months it’s really been working well especially again with TWS. Some outstanding reds there for under £10.

    I will be in to Lidl soon and collect today’s Portuguese red that I haven’t as yet tried. But here’s the thing. Brian recommends it so that’s good enough for me, and there’s no delivery on-cost if I’m going to shop there anyway, as I do once a week usually. £6.99 provides guaranteed decent drinking.

    Unfortunately try as I may I have been unable to find the Lidl German Pinot Noir spoken about here before Xmas. It was also a Decanter ”unmissable weekday bottle” on a WIGIG, so that’s that and forget it!

    Brian’s whisky choice is a good one. Both Aldi and Lidl have the three most popular varietals of single malt whisky, Speyside, Islay and Highland under Glen Marnoch and Ben Brachan labels. I can vouch they are all authentic and excellent for the money, way more so than the Sainsbury’s or Asda own labels for similar. And for a lovely, peated malt blend from Lidl the Abrachan is hard to beat at £17.99.

  5. On the subject of spirits …
    I very rarely drink spirits – keeping my alcohol allowance purely for wine. But my wife and daughter are both gin enthusiasts., the former preferring to drink hers neat, which I guess is a bit unusual. Boy, isn’t there such amazing selections everywhere? Even Morrisons have a very large list. However, as my wife pointed out, sometimes you just want a “straight forward” gin, with traditional botanicals, with nothing too exotic, or fruity in the mix. Following a recommendation from the ever reliable Jane MacQuitty, I purchased a bottle of Greyson’s Dry London Gin, 37.5%, 70cl at £11.99 (or £15.99 for 1 Litre). This was very well received, and a suggestion that I bought another bottle, in case the price goes up!

  6. Thanks Eddie – appreciate your comments. I shall pick up the theme of drinking less but better sometime next month. As for whisky, I am with you 100% – both premium discounters do really well with whiskies like the ones you mention. All their examples from those three areas are nicely typical of the style and great value for money.

  7. As you say, Richard – classy gin and tonic material at a great price. I had to test several Vodkas for a newspaper a year or two back and the premium Aldi one came out with impressively high marks yet was easy on the pocket.

  8. Great to see a quality Douro red wine you recommended at £6.99 from Lidl.The price of many Douro wines seems to have shot up recently and is hovering around the £10 mark.Making it a purchase when a deal is on offer,rather than an impulse buy.
    Also worth considering is the Asda Extra Special Douro at £7.50 which I rate.

  9. Interesting article here, Dry january is a very hard time of the month, have you ever tried anything from ernesto piccolo? Or any deep italian wines at all? I feel there much better than Supermarket brought wines. For example, tesco have a finest trebbiano in a 2.5l box that honestly doesn’t match up to standards. What are your thoughts?

  10. Good to hear from you Giovanni. I accept that the quality of supermarket wine does vary but, for many people, the convenience (and often price) they represent is the prime factor. My Top Tips section tries to single out some of those widely accessible wines that, to me, outperform their price point.
    That is all many wine drinkers want. However, I – and many subscribers – also enjoy the type of distinctive and complex wines that you describe and, I guess, try to source for your shop. Wines like that are often featured in the posts that appear on this site on Thursdays most of the year (often as “Friday Treat” or “Sunday Best” options).
    The two markets can – and should – exist side by side but familiarity with less expensive wine often encourages people to try more unusual or distinctive alternatives. That is where the army of excellent, enthusiastic and knowledgeable independents is indispensable.

  11. Update.Today 30th Jan at Asda the very good Douro I recommended above at £7.50 is on a Buy three for 25% off.An utter bargain.The deal is on any three selected extra Special wines over £7,so you do not need to buy three of the same bottles.

  12. Thanks Paul – a good call. That is a lively medium bodied option with floral aromas and nutty, plum and cherry flavours. Those elements are coupled with baking spice and vanilla components, good acidity and constrained tannin.

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