Shop and drink at your con­ve­nience

The Guardian - Feast - - Fiona Beckett - Fiona Beck­ett

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

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