Get that fire-side feeling—

 I recently helped to launch Wine Education Week with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and one of the wines I poured for the occasion – my wine of the week, from The Wine Society – tastes as good as other famous Italian reds costing many times the price.

It’s a steal. It’s also perfect for autumn, when mellow, spicy reds offer up that fabulous fireside feeling. Blended reds spring from a tradition of growers planting grapes to ripen at different times, spreading their harvest against the vagaries of the weather.

Evolving into the traditions of specific places, across Europe in particular they’ve become emblematic, such as Spain’s Rioja or France’s Côtes du Rhône. But look to lesser-known corners for finds of stand-out character – Portugal in particular has some spectacular spicy red blends from the Douro, Dão and beyond.


A RHONE AGAIN NATURALLY: Signargues, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2018 (14.5%) Aldi £6.99. Deeply spicy, the best value Rhône blend around.

LITTLE RED BOOSTER: Taste the Difference Portuguese Lisboa Red 2017 (13.5%) Sainsbury’s £7. Stunning high street value red of real character.

CALL THE MANAGER!: Agenda Dâo Manager’s Choice 2016 (13%) Majestic £7.99*. Slick, splendid red that you simply cannot miss. *Mix Six Price

LET THERE BE RIOJA: The Best Gran Reserva Rioja 2012 (14%) Morrisons £12. Superlative Rioja that smashes it out of the park.


Foresco Umbria IGT, Barberani 2017 (13.5%) The Wine Society £9.99. Incredible, mellow, rich and excellent. I salute The Wine Society.

This column was originally published in EVENT Magazine, Mail on Sunday, 6th October 2019