O’s wine ex­pert on why you should go with qual­ity over quan­tity this month

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Our wine ex­pert on why you should go with qual­ity over quan­tity this month

I’ve al­ways strug­gled with the con­cept of dry Jan­uary. Cut­ting down on booze af­ter the fes­tive ex­cesses is cer­tainly wise, but surely we need all the help we can get to get through the dark­est, gloomi­est month of the year? De­priv­ing your­self of the plea­sures of wine for a whole month just seems un­nec­es­sar­ily masochis­tic.

While I hugely en­joy dis­cov­er­ing new wines made from un­usual grapes in undis­cov­ered places, in the depths of win­ter I need com­fort and re­as­sur­ance, so I’m drawn to fa­mil­iar, fail-safe favourites with wine as well as with food. I yearn for clas­sic styles, of­ten from France, that I know will suit what I’m eat­ing but are also gen­tle on my bat­tle-scarred post-Christ­mas wal­let. I can be sure that a fish pie or roast chicken will be a per­fect match for a creamy white bur­gundy; a hearty stew cries out for a de­pend­able rus­tic red; and an aro­matic, off-dry white will al­ways be a win­ner with dishes con­tain­ing warm­ing Asian spices. French wines are of­ten scar­ily ex­pen­sive but bar­gains can be had if you shop care­fully, armed with a lit­tle back­ground knowl­edge.

If you feel un­sure about which wine will make the per­fect match with what you’re eat­ing, or what food will go best with your favourite wine, there is much help at hand. Fiona Beck­ett, The Guardian’s wine writer, has a bril­liant web­site, match­ing­foodand­, which does what it says on the tin, while The Wine Dine Dic­tio­nary (£20, Granta) by Vic­to­ria Moore, The Tele­graph’s wine guru, is the book I al­ways have to hand if I need in­spi­ra­tion. Staff at good in­de­pen­dent wine shops will of­ten be happy to share their tips, too.

Hats off to you if you’re giv­ing up booze for the whole of Jan­uary but my ad­vice is to be nice to your­self by drink­ing less while get­ting the max­i­mum en­joy­ment from ev­ery drop you drink.


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