If you are after a special occasion wine without breaking the bank, Christine Austin selects wines from Waitrose while they have 25% off on a 6-bottle multibuy

It is at this time of year that supermarkets like to unleash their quick-fire price reductions when they slice a whole 20% to 25% off the price of all their wines, so long as you buy 6 or 12 bottles which can be mixed.  In general, these offers come as much of a surprise to me as they do to you, since the supermarkets are reluctant to give me much notice of such a commercially sensitive price reduction.  And since these deals usually start on a Tuesday, the shelves can often be cleared of some special wines by the time this column can mention the deals on the following Saturday.

Waitrose currently has an offer which knocks 25% off the price of all wines priced £5 or more when you buy 6 bottles or more. This offer runs until April 16, and all prices quoted here are the regular prices.

With the need to advise a friend what to buy for an early summer wedding, here are a few suggestions.

Bubbles will definitely be needed and while the traditional celebration drink is champagne, these days an English wedding needs an English wine. Waitrose has made an effort to stock local wines in their stores, but of course their whole range is available on-line, so if the happy couple has connections in other parts of the country, it might be a nice idea to select a wine from there.

My top choices for taste are Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve from Hampshire for its broad, rounded, toasty notes (£30) and Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé (£29.99) from Cornwall for its delicious strawberry-scented aromas, with a clean, precise, elegant style.  Nyetimber from West Sussex (£36.99) has won many trophies and accolades, and it has a depth of flavour that makes it suitable for drinking with food as well as an aperitif.

All these English wines have been made from blends of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, and the bubbles have been created using the traditional method, which involves a secondary fermentation in bottle, in exactly the same way that the famous wine over the channel is made.  The difference between Champagne and English Sparkling wine is that English wine seems to capture the scent of an English garden in springtime, with aromas of fresh white flowers and fresh, crisp, lemon-edged flavours.

If it has to be Champagne for your big event then I love the Waitrose own-label Blanc de Blancs Brut (£23.99) which has crisp apple and lemon notes and hints of toasted brioche on the finish.  This is good enough to see your guests through the long wait while photographs are taken.  Alternatively step up to Waitrose Brut Special Reserve Vintage 2007 (£25.99) which has outstanding depth of flavour, complexity and length.

Whatever you choose avoid any Champagne with the word Veuve on the label, as in Veuve Clicquot.  This translates as ‘widow’ and is clearly not the right sentiment for a wedding.

When it comes to providing wine to go with the wedding lunch or dinner, the real challenge is providing the right mix of wine to suit all tastes.  No one wine will cope with a mix of distant relatives and friends from university days, so ditch the usual choice of one white and one red wine and be prepared to pour a selection of wines.

 

A few bottles of rosé on the tables will definitely get the party started and if they look as pretty as Ch. de Berne Provence Rosé 2017 (£12.49) then that is a good place to start.  It comes in a fabulous square cut bottle that could double up as an oversized perfume bottle.  The wine has delicate white floral notes backed by wild strawberry and lime fruit and will happily accompany starters and salads.

Also pretty in taste and appearance is Mirabeau Côtes de Provence Rosé (£11.99) made from Syrah and Grenache grapes which captures fresh summer berry fruit with a fresh lemon zest finish.

Not everyone will like a rosé, so select a white wine that will go well with the appetisers.  If the celebrations are likely to go on all day then a lower alcohol wine, such as The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£8.99) at just 9.5% could be a welcome choice. With all the fresh zippy herbaceous flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon, this has a lower alcohol because it has been carefully grown and fermented.  There has been no clever chemistry tricks taking the alcohol out of this wine.

Another good choice is The Botham All-Rounder Chardonnay 2018 from Australia which is currently on a 25% off deal, down from £7.99 to £5.99 at Waitrose until Tuesday 9 April, even for single bottle purchases.  This has been selected and blended by famous cricketer and Yorkshire resident, Ian Botham who has steered the flavours to be rounded with grapefruit, peach and nectarine, and without a thud of oak which can sometimes cloud the taste of Australian Chardonnay.  This will accompany any kind of fish or salad starter.

Spring and summer weddings need a red wine that won’t go soupy if allowed to stand in sunshine for a while and a Pinot Noir is perfect for this.  It can be lightly chilled before being poured and will last in the glass, keeping its bright fruit flavours without becoming heavy.

At the bargain end of the scale Waitrose Romanian Pinot Noir (£5.99) tastes well above its price point with fragrant strawberry fruit and enough flavour to cope with salmon and chicken dishes.  Villa Blanche Pinot Noir 2016 (£8.99) comes from hillside vineyards in the south of France and has cherry and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of savoury spice and this will happily accompany lamb and flavoursome chicken dishes.

Louis Latour Red Burgundy (£15.49) is a more expensive option but its classic style and silky food-friendly tannins will settle around most wedding dishes and will definitely impress all your guests.

 

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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