WINE O’CLOCK: Box clever and let the shop make the choice
Good wines, like good books, are best bought from shops where you can look at the stock, savour the atmosphere and get advice from somebody who knows what they are talking about.
However, successive lockdowns have persuaded many of us to shop online and, while it is not a trend I would like to see continue, it need not be a bad experience, particularly if you do your remote shopping from a reputable store.
Most of them have good sites that can let you see the extensive stock and read all about it.
Check the rules before you buy. Some shops have a limited delivery range and some impose a minimum number of bottles that must be purchased.
One way around this last restriction is to buy a mixed box, where the store makes the selection for you. Boxes have a reputation for being dull, safe and predictable. But some interesting offers are available and they are usually good value.
Here are a few …
Southern France Collection 6 bottles (€80 The Wine Centre, Kilkenny)
Most of my favourite wines come from the south of France, so this box gets the thumbs up from me.
There are two Malbecs and two bottles of Enseduna Muscat Sec , a lovely wine with a soft texture and citrus tang.
There is one Cabernet Sauvignon and a wine called Le Lien Minervois which I haven’t tried. It’s a red from the Languedoc Roussillon region. The Wine Centre says it goes well with duck, beef or a wild boar stew. I know a few wild bores but I never share wine with them.
The Discovery Case 12 bottles (€169 Wineonline.ie)
They advertise this selection as perfect for someone “looking for a change or an introduction to something a little different”.
This box has two bottles of Primitivo di Puglia, a big red from Italy with flavours of cherry and chocolate.
There’s a Chianti called Tenute del Pojo Sangiovese and two bottles of Zuccardi Bonarda, a wine from Argentina that is full of ripe fruit and makes a good partner for lamb or ham.
There are two bottles of Sidhuri Cocociola, a dry white from Italy with a style similar to Albarino.
For lovers of Albarino there is Paco & Lola Albarino or, if you prefer your whites with more fruit, there’s Domaine de La Madone, a Picpoul di Pinet from the Languedoc.
Wine Buyer’s Choice 12 bottles (€180 O’Briens)
This selection has been chosen by O’Briens’ Director of Wine, Lynne Coyle. It features Malbec. Sauvignon Blanc and two bottles of Brocard Petit Chablis, a dry white with a citrus tang that goes beautifully with shellfish.
There is also Altos de Luzon, a Spanish red I have never tried. The grape is Monastrell and the producer says it is dark and sexy. The perfect partner for lockdown.
Everyday Drinking Wines 12 bottles (€128 Le Caveau, Kilkenny)
It sounds predictable but these are interesting wines.
The reds include Terrane Rouge, Labastide de Levis a blend which uses Duras and Merlot and is rich in cherry and raspberry flavours, and a Tempranillo called Albizu y Monastrell, a nice wine from Rioja that goes with all things meaty. Le Caveau recommends you serve it lightly chilled.
Whites include a Chardonnay and Cuvée Marine, Domaine de Ménard , which I have never tried but sounds lovely: “very aromatic, with scents of white flowers, pear drop and honey suckle”.