Guy Fawkes Night is the time to sip something spicy and succulent
Taste the Difference Saint-Chinian Syrah-Grenache 2015 (£9, Sainsbury’s) For me, Guy Fawkes Night is when autumn really starts to segue into winter, an occasion for sipping warming red wine, glass in gloved hand, around the bonfire. Sainsbury’s has a wine that fits this mood perfectly – and which would also match well with a classic Sunday roast of lamb or beef. From the Saint-Chinian district of the Languedoc, it’s a rich, spicy blend of syrah and grenache filled with liquorice, blackberries, pepper and the waft of wild scrubland herbs. Made by the reliable family firm of Laurent Miquel, it just pips Tesco’s version of the same style, Tesco Finest Saint-Chinian 2016 for intensity and depth, although the latter is good value (£7.50) for its succulent dark plummy smokiness.
Morrisons The Best Rioja Reserva, Spain 2012 (£6.50) The Morrisons wine department, much improved of late, has two Spanish candidates (or rather, one Spanish and one Catalan) for wintry comfort. The retailer’s textbook Rioja Reserva offers all the soft, mellow savouriness and coconut and vanilla seasoning you expect from traditional Rioja, with enough ripe black fruit to keep it from feeling, as cheaper reservas sometimes can, tired and over-the-hill. A few quid more, the Catalan contender, Morrisons The Best Priorat 2014 (£10) is from the remote hills of Priorat and uses a blend familiar to winemakers all over the Mediterranean (grenache, carignan, syrah) to fashion a dark, chewy red with sweet spice and a freshening plum-skin tang that makes it very easy to drink.