Shop and drink at your convenience
One of the biggest changes in our shopping habits in recent years has been the return of the convenience store. Rather than loading up with the weekly shop, we now tend to shop little and often, hence the rise of smaller supermarkets such as Tesco Metro and Sainsbury’s Local.
And if we’re popping in to buy supper, there’s obviously the temptation to buy something to drink with it, an impulse retailers cater for by having smaller formats such as quarter-bottles and readychilled whites and rosés. But whereas the food offering at such stores can be quite adventurous and upmarket, the wine options tend to be boringly predictable. Wines from a local are often more expensive than they are in larger stores and online, not least because smaller branches are often excluded from multi-buy promotions, such as 25% off when you buy six or more bottles.
That said, I’ve tasted some really good wines from Spar recently, which has recruited the former Asda buyer and master of wine Philippa Carr to head up its wine-buying operation. She has introduced a range of very reasonably priced varietals at £6 a bottle, of which I particularly like
T Tempranillo and G Garnacha (both 14.5%). PN Pinot Noir (12.5%), a tricky grape to nail at this kind of price, is pretty creditable, too; as is – to my surprise – PG Pinot Grigio rosé (11.5%), from Romania, which is not as sweet as you’d expect.
I also really like Spar’s Bold Red (13%), another tempranillo, which is a “does what it says on the tin” kind of wine that lives up to its billing as “rich and gutsy”.
My local convenience store – albeit a mini supermarket rather than a corner shop – is a Co-op, which has a decent range. Two I would single out are the Irresistible Viognier Pays d’Oc 2016, (13.5%) which captures the variety’s seductive, apricot fruit (but is not sweet enough to drink with fruit desserts, as they suggest), and the brambly Les Jamelles Réserve Mourvèdre 2015 (£7.69; 13.5%), also from the Languedoc, which I’d fancy with a cheeseboard. The Co-op also has some handy quarterbottles, including Trapiche’s Pure Malbec (£2.29 for 187ml; 13.5%), although bear in mind the full-size bottle is currently on promotion at £6.99. Tesco, meanwhile, has an absolutely cracking quarter-bottle of New Zealand pinot noir in its Finest range for £2.50 in store or £2.25 online.
Truth is, everything is pretty convenient these days. Just bear in mind that you may be paying a premium for it. The beginning of April is a time to bid farewell to forced rhubarb for another year and to welcome field rhubarb season, and this punchy little number is as good a way as any of marking the transition.
Rub the lemon slice around the rim of a champagne flute, then dip the glass in vanilla sugar to coat the rim. Put the liqueur, lemon juice and grenadine in a shaker over ice, shake for two to three seconds only, then double strain into the flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a pretty flower.
Ryan Law, head bartender,
The Hind’s Head, Bray, Berkshire