Wine is one of those things in life that finds itself popping up at all sorts of social occasions. It is the sort of libation that is equally at home when splashed into fancy glassware when celebrating a new arrival (think bubbles, and particularly champagne) as it is when embarking upon a special meal with the dreaded in-laws (when dusting off even the best bottle from your cellar often still doesn’t quite do the trick when seeking to win some brownie points).
It’s an elixir that can make you contemplate, help you to commiserate, and can be found at the dinner table of the world’s most prestigious and pricey eating establishments. It’s the versatility of wine that has led to it becoming an integral part in our everyday lives. And as the fruits of Bacchus have become more and more part of our routine, we have seen people drinking lower quantities, but a better quality of wine, which in turn has resulted in there being more terrific wine available at most price points than ever before!
Sometimes wine is there to make you think, and swirling it, sniffing it and slurping it is the best way to truly appreciate what’s in your glass. But quite often you find yourself reaching for the bottle opener when you’re relaxing with your nearest and dearest on the couch on a Friday night. Thankfully, there’s plenty of great wines flying around that provide spades of drinking pleasure at some pretty keen price points. Wines that are made to be drunk; wines that are made to be enjoyed; and wines that not only taste great, but that over-deliver on the price you paid for the bottle.
We’re talking about slurping wines. But we’re talking about slurping wines that are made with consideration, and that are truly representative of where they come from. Wines that still taste of the grape variety and the region the grapes are grown in. We’re talking about grapes like Grenache, and there’s no better Friday night wine than Torbrecks ‘Cuvée Juveniles. It’s all plush, spicy fruit that would help warm even the coldest of Friday nights and is serious wine for the buck. Talking of value for money, Wirra Wirra Church Block, a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot has to be dollar for dollar one of the best buys on the market: chocolatey goodness in a glass and perfect for cracking open whilst you’re waiting on the fire getting going.
For those looking for something a bit lighter on its feet but equally as delicious, grab yourself a bottle of St Hallet Gamekeeper Reserve. A blend of Shiraz and Grenache, it’s bright, spicy and juicy and perfect with pizza of any sort. It’s difficult to find cheap Pinot Noir that also delivers classic Pinot flavours but De Bortoli Windy Peak has to be a contender for top value for money Pinot Noir. Silky, perfumed and full of lovely crunchy fruit, it’s a great expression of Yarra Valley Pinot Noir at a ridiculously good price point. For those looking to try something a little bit different, Alpha Box and Dice are a great little producer playing around with interesting varietals in Langhorne Creek in SA, and their Rebel Rebel Montepulciano is equally as interesting as it is great drinking. Floral, juicy and savoury, it’s great drinking at a great price.
And we’re not saying you have to stick to drinking red on these cold winter evenings. Textural, fuller-bodied whites are a great option too, and there’s no better value for money white than Yalumba’s Y Series Vognier. Peachy and punchy, year in year out it massively over-delivers in the wine to dollar ratio. Tahbilk Marsanne has lovely texture and grip and plays nicely on the honeysuckle and apricot side of the varietal (an old favourite that is slowly but surely finding its way back into the consciousness of the wider wine-drinking public). And last, but by no means least, ‘The Ned’ Pinot Gris, from over the ditch in Marlborough New Zealand, would be a great addition to any couch and Thai takeaway. With lovely lifted pear and apple skin fruit it’s got a nice bit of texture but it’s clean and vibrant and would stand up to a nice lashing of heat in a green curry nicely.