Forget what the marketing men tell you - Christine Austin serves up a seven-day guide to which grape to drink when.

A couple of weeks ago, as soon as I realised that I had missed International Malbec Day, I instantly felt guilty.  Perhaps you were all waiting for my thoughts on some new Malbec wines, or maybe a few recipe ideas to pair with the latest blockbuster bottles. Then I realised that International Sauvignon Blanc Day is next week (May 4) with Moscato Day close on its heels and then Chardonnay Day swiftly followed by Rosé Day and Albariño Day. That is when I decided that these special days devoted to single grapes are just plain silly.

I have enough trouble remembering my extended family members’ birthdays, so these ‘grape variety days’ tend to pass me by and I really don’t understand why any grape or wine should have one special day per year.  Probably dreamt up by some clever marketing man in an office, they are essentially a way to highlight a grape in the hope of selling more bottles.

But I prefer to choose wine according to my food or my mood rather than follow the lead of a contrived calendar of grapes.  With that in mind I have devised my own schedule for enjoying some of the grapes of the world, with the added benefit that if you miss a particular variety one week, you can catch up with it again next week.

Here are my Monday to Sunday suggestions, with alternatives, just to add variety to each day.

 

MONDAY

Sauvignon Blanc

Once spring arrives then everyday can be a Sauvignon Blanc day.  It is essential to have at least one bottle of this green-edged, herbaceous, zesty white in your fridge at all times.  It acts as a thirst quencher, an appetite sharpener and a welcome wine for all guests. Top choices include the spectacular offer of The Ned at the Co-op at just £6.99 until 22 May but for more mouth-watering lime zest and gooseberry flavours head to Jackson Stich 2016 (Waitrose £12.99).  Both wines come from New Zealand – a country that has set the standard for Sauvignon Blanc.

Merlot

Merlot is also a good choice for Mondays; its soft easy fruit goes with almost any Monday supper from Sunday leftovers to lasagne.  Chile does great value Merlot extremely well.  Try Cono Sur Merlot 2016 (Morrisons £7.25) for simple blackcurrant and plum flavours or step up to the silky, bramble and spice of Errazuriz Estate Merlot 2016 from Majestic at £9.99 a bottle or £8.49 on a mix six deal.

TUESDAY

Viognier

With its light, fresh peach and apricot-tinged flavours, every week deserves a taste of Viognier.  It used to be confined to just one corner of the Rhone, but now grows happily in the South of France, Australia and South America.  Try Yalumba Organic Viognier from Australia, currently down from £9.99 to £7.99 at Waitrose until 15 May. Team it with roast chicken or salads.

Sangiovese

This is the perfect grape to pour alongside any tomato-based pasta dish.  With sour-cherry fruit and a dusting of truffle and earthy notes it is light in style but big in flavour.  Head to Waitrose for the terrific Cerro del Masso Poggiotondo Chianti at £7.99.

 

WEDNESDAY

Albariño

Reaching the mid-point of the week demands wines with good flavours and the Spanish pair of Albariño and Tempranillo fit the bill perfectly.

Albariño is mainly grown in the coolish, wetter part of Spain in Galicia where it retains fresh citrus acidity, layered with light apricot and white peach notes. Try Martin Codax Albariño which is my benchmark for this grape variety (Majestic £13.49, £10.99 on mix six) or step up to Fefiñanes 2016 which is a touch more elegant with a definite minerally crunch, (The Wine Society £16).

Tempranillo

Tempranillo is the grape of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, tasting of strawberry fruit layered with spice and tobacco.  Head to CVNE Rioja Reserva 2014 (Majestic £12.99, £9.99 on a mix six deal) which is hitting all the right notes with supple, bramble fruit and hints of spice.

 

THURSDAY

Chardonnay

As the end of the week approaches, head for a Chardonnay that shows its fruit rather than the taste of the oak barrel it has been stored in. Marks and Spencer’s Mâcon Villages 2016 has clear, ripe apple, pear and peach notes without any oak clouding the palate.  Enjoy with grilled fish or chicken.

Malbec

If, like me, you missed Malbec Day then catch up with Viñalta Malbec 2016 (Marks and Spencer £9).  It has deep chunky mulberry and damson flavours, dusted with spice and ends with supple, steak-friendly tannins.

FRIDAY

Champagne

The end of the working week always requires some form of celebration and Lidl still has its own Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut at the bargain price of £10.99. With clear citrus zest and a touch of brioche this will start the weekend in style.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Match your Friday supper with the firm-edged flavours of a good Cabernet Sauvignon such as Sainsbury’s Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon (£7.50) from Australia.  Its smooth, gutsy, cassis and mint-shot flavours go perfectly with spiced sausages and casseroles.

WEEKEND DRINKING

Over a weekend there is the opportunity to adopt any grape variety and give it its own ‘day’.

For whites it is always good to start with a Riesling that will brighten the palate and bring a whole range of floral, citrus and honeyed notes to your glass.  Enjoyable as an aperitif but also with any kind of Asian-spiced food, try Cave de Beblenheim Riesling (Waitrose £10.49) or head for the lime and lavender notes in Rolf Binder’s Riesling (Waitrose £10.99) from Eden Valley, Australia.

Pinot Noir should also make an appearance over a weekend, and the cherry and strawberry-flavours of Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile (Sainsbury £7) are great on their own or with a fish or salad lunch. For enjoying with dinner, trade up to the complex mix of violets, earthy tones and savoury mushrooms of Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir, Waitrose £14.99 or try the delicious, fruit-driven Mischief and Mayhem Pinot Noir Red Burgundy (Waitrose £14.99).

 

 

 

 

 

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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