Wine a little…laugh a lot!

Thirty years ago, Christmas meant one thing (well 2 actually).

The Blue Nun or Black Tower adverts on TV.

They were right up there with the Holidays Are Coming Coke ad, long before M&S got its ad sparkle or John Lewis came on the scene with trampolining dogs or big monsters that live under the bed.

The choice of wine today in any off licence or bar seems endless and everyone likes to think they know their wines.

People say you can’t buy happiness but you can buy wine and that’s kind of the same thing!

So, let us at BOAD HQ, (as we have sampled enough in our time) to give you a few ‘wine tips’ so you can become the next Oz Clarke.

Tip 1 • Spend the Right Amount

Did you know that most of the money you spend when buying a bottle of wine goes on stuff you can’t actually taste?

Consider what you are spending.

Spend too little – say you spend £5 on a bottle of wine.

Approximately 37p from that fiver actually goes on the stuff you taste.

After excise duty, VAT and the bottle (label, cork, screwcap etc) there’s precious little left for the nectar inside.

Spend too much – when you buy that famous Bordeaux or Burgundy you may just be paying for the brand name or now more than ever, the marketing hype.

You may also be paying for some top wine executive to literally live ‘the champagne lifestyle’.

For best results we would recommend spending between £8 to £12.

That’s enough for world class winemaking made using top notch fruit (and may result in the wine executive having to crack open a bottle of prosecco instead!)

Tip 2 • Listen to the public

Marketing guys and wine gurus have an agenda…to sell you their product or products they are paid to ‘endorse’.

What we suggest is look at reviews and ratings from real wine drinkers.

People like yourself.

We would also recommend using an app like Vinino which gives ratings for every wine you scan.

If a wine is 3.6 out of 5 and the majority of the reviews are people saying they would buy it again…then guess what it’s a drinkable enjoyable wine.

Tip 3 • Location location location

A good tip in finding good quality wine is to do some research.

Now that doesn’t need a trip to the library but simply check out an area and see if it has a reputation for a particular grape.

Marlborough, NZ obviously is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc grape, the Rioja region of Spain and its tempranillo, or Argentina and the steaks favourite, Malbec.

Now these grapes are used worldwide but if it’s a wine you like, looking at the regions they are famously connected to is a good start.

Speaking of great grapes and famous regions, Winemark have their Marlborough Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc on offer with 2 bts for £16 or a case of 6 for £45 saving a whopping £22.

That’s a Happy New Year folks.

Tip 4 • All that glitters…is not gold!

Many wines shout out their achievements – what medals they have won at various ‘world wine awards’.

They may look impressive on a label but it doesn’t actually mean anything.

There are countless wine competitions out there and no doubt some wine producers enter every competition they can.

Shiny medals are for the Olympics not the wine glass.

Tip 5 • Time to meet your maker

Who made the wine? An accountant in a mass production vineyard or a passionate winemaker in a small winery?

Can we stress being big doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no passion in the winemaking but there is a point where mass production can lead to bland wine.

Not going to mention any brands here but we’ve all drunk them.

As you travel through your own wine voyage the mass-produced wine is probably where you will start, it did with me, probably on the Black Tower, but as your taste develops there is an abundance of great small batch wines to discover and enjoy.

Remember as you drink wine you only taste two things – great fruit and great winemaking.

Now how does one acquire this knowledge?

Any good off-licence such as Winemark who have over 80 stores throughout Northern Ireland pride themselves on having staff passionate about the wines they sell.

Talk to the staff…they love to talk.

When you sell great wine, you learn things from the regular customers.

They can recommend and help guide you through the wonderful world of wine.

Drink what you like but also live a little, pick up a bottle of something new next time you’re buying wine.

Its January after all…. new year, new exciting you and all that.

And remember a meal without wine…is breakfast!

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