All- pur­pose reds

A fur­ther look at ‘ wet Wednesday’ treats – re­li­able win­ter wines

The Irish Times Magazine - - DRINK - JOHN WIL­SON

This week an­other look at what I call wet Wednesday wines; red wines, this be­ing win­ter, that you don’t have to think about too much, but will cheer you up and make a mid- week din­ner taste that lit­tle bit bet­ter. Last Satur­day I cov­ered the mul­ti­ples; to­day, our in­de­pen­dent wine shops and off- li­cences.

The prob­lem with in­de­pen­dents is they are so, well, in­de­pen­dent. Each has their own in­di­vid­ual way of work­ing and their own favourite wines that ob­vi­ously work for their cus­tomers too. It makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing range of wines, usu­ally hand- picked bot­tles with real char­ac­ter, but sadly too of­ten not avail­able any­where else in the coun­try.

Our in­de­pen­dent wine shops have changed; while some off- li­cences re­main res­o­lutely tra­di­tional, many of the wine re­tail­ers now stock a more quirky, eclec­tic range of wines. Quite a few of them morph into wine bars at cer­tain times of the day or night as well.

For this week’s wines, I con­tacted 10 wine shops and off- li­cences around the coun­try and then added in a few of my own cur­rent favourites. Most of the re­sponses in­cluded a hand­ful of Ital­ian reds, a Nero d’Avola from Si­cily, a Mon­tepul­ciano d’Abruzzo or a Valpo­li­cella. All of these tick boxes. If you ever find your­self in a restau­rant not know­ing what wine to pick, these are fairly re­li­able all- pur­pose reds that will cover just about every­thing on the menu. Ev­ery re­gion of Italy has a lo­cal quaffing wine. In days past, they were drunk in­stead of wa­ter, of­ten at ev­ery meal. With modern wine­mak­ing, most taste a lot bet­ter than 20 years ago.

If I ever opened a bistro or restau­rant, all of these wines would be in the run­ning for my house wines. They are fruity, crowd- pleas­ing wines that go per­fectly with most dishes. Gabriel Cooney of Grapevine in Dalkey put it nicely when talk­ing about his Pog­gerissi be­low; it is a wine to drink when you can’t de­cide what you want – sim­ple, ap­proach­able, great value and hits the spot ev­ery time.

The wines be­low are all ¤ 12- 13, pos­si­bly more than you nor­mally pay for your mid­week wine. How­ever, you should no­tice a big jump in qual­ity com­pared to a bot­tle cost­ing ¤ 8- 10. The wine­maker is prob­a­bly get­ting 50 per cent or more for a wine at this price.

SIYPS, which stands for som­me­liers in your pock­ets, is a newly cre­ated on­line site where you can buy wines se­lected by a team of ex­pe­ri­enced som­me­liers. Check out siyps. com. While on the sub­ject of in­no­va­tive wine re­tail­ers, a big shout out for Dave Gal­lagher and his team in Green Man Wines in Terenure for their Best Wine Award from Ge­orgina Camp­bell.

Madregale 2016, Rosso Terre di Chi­eti, 12.5%, ¤ 11.95 Light fresh juicy cherry fruits and no tan­nins. There isn’t re­ally much more to say. Very good sim­ple ev­ery­day drink­ing and great value for money. Stock­ists: Avoca; Black­rock Cel­lars; Fal­lon & Byrne; Le Caveau; Lis­tons; MacGuin­ness Wines; Green Man Wines; World Wide Wines.

Pog­gerissi Rosso 2016, Rosso di Toscana, 13%, ¤ 11.95 A glass­ful of smooth sup­ple juicy ripe cherry fruits. A steal.

Stock­ists: Grapevine; Lis­ton’s; Poppy Seed and Mor­ton’s, Gal­way; Cabot & Co., West­port.

Ciello Rosso Nero d’Avola 2016, IGT Terre Si­cil­iane, 12.5%, ¤ 12.95 Light and fresh with dark plum fruits and a tan­nin- free fin­ish. Stock­ists: Le Caveau; Bag­got Street Wines; The Gar­den Shop ( Bal­ly­maloe); Black­rock Cel­lars; Bradleys; The Corkscrew; Fal­lon & Byrne; Lis­tons; Green Man Wines; 64 Wines; World Wide Wines.

Mon­tepul­ciano d’Abruzzo 2015 Le Salare, Fratelli Barba, 12%, ¤ 12.95- 13.50 Light re­fresh­ing tooth­some damsons, with sub­tle spice and a soft fin­ish. Stock­ists: Sheri­dans Cheese­mon­gers ( all shops): Let­ter­col­lum Kitchen Project: Clon­tarf Wines.

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