9th October 2017
Fitou, Languedoc Rousillon, Cers and Marin
Lidl £5.99
Drinker Rating 91

Lidl are having a bit of a French season in their wines right now. This is an absolute belter, classic Fitou, deep and earthy. Rich intense and concentrated black fruit and great supporting oak. Not overly tannic but with enough structure to support the big flavours.

This is also an important time economically and I fear we won't be seeing wines priced as keenly as this very much in the coming months and years. I'd get down there and get crates of this in for the darker months.



2nd October 2017
St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Tesco, Waitrose and others £19.00
Drinker Rating 90

If like me you've been out in the country searching for sloes and blackberries it might put you in mind of the hedgerows of the summer. The heady scent of elderflower is concentrated in this lovely French liqueur, floral and touch tropical this is a lovely drink to remind us of summer.

It's extremely versatile, try a drop to lighten a gin and tonic or make the classic St Germain cocktail. Pour 2 parts dry fizz and 1 1/2 parts St Germain over ice, top up with soda and garnish with a twist of lemon.


25th September 2017
Zom Douro Reserva 2015
Aldi £8.99
Drinker Rating 90

I know people who genuinely buy a wine because they like the look of the bottle - nothing else counts unless it's got a pretty label. Well this wine will appeal as it has a really groovy look, the bottle has been nipped in at the ankles and it think that it not only looks great it's also not just a pretty face.

It's a blend of the Portugese workhorse grapes Tourigas Nacional and Franca. The Douro is really going places and this is a great example of fruit a forward wine, all ripe plum and blackberry with a decent tannic structure. It's well made and serious and just what we need in the autumn.



18th September 2017
Truly Irresistible Fiano
Co-op £6.99
Drinker Rating 90

I think the poor old Co-op have had a bit of a kicking over the last few years. The banking thing and the nosed-up bonking banker didn't help. But in the food and drink department they're tip top.

The first thing we must remember about the Co-op is they are not a supermarket, they are a convenience store. Whereas Tesco et al have 350 plus wines on their shelves the Co-op will have less than a quarter of that. This means that their wines have to be completely reliable and really hit the mark.

So here we have their Fiano, pretty much all of the Truly Irresistible range are great wines and terrific value. This is all zesty lemon and grapefruit, a perfect light Italian white.



11th September 2017
Villemarin Picpoul de Pinet
Majestic £7.99
Drinker Rating 90

Picpuol de Pinet is the fashionable wine of the moment. A light, fresh white from France made from the Picpoul grape in a number of small villages in the Languedoc around Pinet.

These wines are full bodied and a green-gold colour, you'll get lemon and lime citrus on the nose with hints of white blossom and some pleasing herbal notes on the palate.

This wine from Majestic is a cracker for under eight quid, bags of character, pleasing and elegant. Great value and good quality.



4th September 2017
Morrisons Valpolicella Ripasso
Morrisons £7.50
Drinker Rating 90

Feeling autumnal yet? Possibly the need for a lovely ripe, warming, full bodied red, all mists and mellow fruitfulness? Well here's the fella to sort you out.

Ripasso wines are are re-fermented in contact with the skins giving more tannin, body, intensity of fruit and both a touch of sweetness and alcohol.

Because of the extra time and skill in doing this well these wines are usually much more expensive, however Morrisons are knocking this out at an amazing seven quid.

This has all the backbone to cope with red meat stews or bolognese. It's also fantastic on its own.



28th August 2017
Tesco Beaujolais Villages
Tesco £7.00
Drinker Rating 88

You know the phrase 'end of term feeling', expressing a sort of carefree giddiness? Well is there an opposite,a 'start of term feeling'? You know, a sense of dour doom with only hard work and darkness to come?

Well, if there is a start of term feeling, and itwould be appropriate right now, we'll need a little vino to lift our spirits and see us into September with a sense of optemism.

This Beaujolais Village is a perfect turn of the season wine as it is good at room temperature on a gloomy day or excellent chilled a little in the last of the summer sunshine.

Here's to the start of term.



21st August 2017
Taste the Difference Petit Chablis
Sainsbury's £10.00
Drinker Rating 91

The supermarket 25% off deals keep on coming with Sainsbury's pitching in in the run up to the bank holiday. Like most of the big retailers their 'own brand' label -particularly in the 'Taste the Difference' category frequently provide great value and really good typicity of style.

A great example of this is their Taste the Difference Petit Chablis. This is all dry and fresh with lemon peel and a distant hint of peach stone. Very classy and a touch pricey but remember there's 25% off when buying any 6 bottles of wine (click the Sainsbury's link on the right of this page to see all my recommendations). Be daring and give this a go with a cheeseboard over the bank holiday.



14th August 2017
Martisor Pinot Grigio (Romania)
Waitrose £7.49
Drinker Rating 89

There are some terrific offers on wine at Waitrose right now, up to 25% on many bottles - if you're going there click on the Waitrose logo to the right of this column for my full list of recommendations.

One of the wines not on offer is this pinot grigio from Romania. It's a cut above the usual  neutral PG swill, it's got good crisp acidity, dry as a bone but with a lovely floral nose and a fruit salad palate. Very good value at £7.49 all we need now is some sun to enjoy it in.

Noroc! (Romanian for Cheers!)


7th August 2017
Exotique, Cotes du Gascogne
Lidl £4.49
Drinker Rating 90

So as we reach the height of summer (and the rain clouds clear for a moment) we need a light and refreshing wine which must be above all - versatile.

This is a wine good for sipping on a hot day on return from work, a refreshing and affordable drop for BBQs or parties and something that is just a good reliable drop which is a pleasure to have in the fridge.

This Cotes du Gascogne from Lidl is part of their core range of wines and is just the ticket. Dry and fresh, it had a lovely light tropical fruit note with hits of white blossom,  good with food or on its own, it's a lot of wine for the money.


31st July 2017
Freeman's Bay New Zealand Pinot Gris
Aldi £5.69
Drinker Rating 91

How about a really well made wine, balanced fruit and acidity, fresh and characterful. This pinot gris has some really beautiful tropical notes, mango, lychee and melon, there's a touch of spice and white pepper - in short it's very classy - BUT...

...And you're not going to like this. It's off dry. Not medium, not sweet, but just a touch of sweetness to carry the fruit and balance the acidity. I've been banging on about sweeter styles of wine for years, just give it a go, I promise you won't be disappointed and at under six quid what's the worst that could happen.

Go on. Treat yourself.


24th July 2017
Extra Special Chardonnay
ASDA £5.50
Drinker Rating 89

Fashion,  by its very nature changes, and in the wine world it's most pronounced in the evolution of chardonnay. Back in the 80s and 90s the trend was for big oaky New World chardonnay typified by California and Australia. As time has moved on so has our taste with a desire for more subtlety and elegance.

This is a lovely wine, Old World chardonnay from France, restrained, poised and balanced.  It had bags of zesty lime and is really refreshing and bright. Great with food or on its own in the summer rain.


17th July 2017
Taste the Difference Verdicchio Classico
Sainsbury's £6.00
Drinker Rating 89

It's the time of year that demands refreshing crisp white wines however there's quite a lot of very average neutral stuff out there. This verdicchio is bright and zesty and it actually tastes of something - my notes included mango, melon and peach with a lovely mineral note on the finish.

This wine is currently on offer at only £6, makes a good candidate for summer parties and BBQs or indeed as a solid house white for the season.


10th July 2017
Vino Frizzante Ros
Marks and Spencer £8.00
Drinker Rating 90

So the weather's still holding and it's the second week of Wimbledon. The only possible
option for drinks in the lead up to the weekend's finals is a lovely, lightly sparkling rosé and this little beauty from Marks and Spencer is just the ticket.

The term 'frizzante' means that it's sparkling and effervescent rather than 'spumante' which  would be properly fizzy. The lightness of the sparkle means that the bubbles are less aggressive in your mouth and this enables the wine to be more expressive. So we have a beautifully fruity palate, lots of strawberry and raspberry character, without erring toward the sweet. Refreshing and light, perfect for the tennis.


3rd July 2017
Taste the Difference Firtrade Ros
Sainsbury's £7.00
Drinker Rating 90

I firmly believe that at today's prices no-one should be paying more than £9 for rosé. There simply isn't the quality out on the high street to justify it. To prove this see my Summer 2017 Rosé roundup  by clicking here.

This Taste the Difference Rosé from Sainsbury's is a perfect example of an easy drinking pink, refreshing with a lovely touch or redcurrant for interest and really well priced.

Chill well and enjoy in the sun.


26th June 2017
Villa Blanche Pinot Noir, Pays d'Oc
Waitrose £8.99
Drinker Rating 90

I'm tempted to recommend a lot of European wines right now as inevitably it'll become a lot more expensive as we approach Brexit - that said with the state of the pound all wine will become more expensive as the time nears.

Ho hum, so let's look for some great value right now. This is a lovely wine, one that I'd tip up just on the look of the bottle - very classy. It's a pinot noir so expect a forward red cherry character, bright red berries and soft approachable tannin.

A beautiful summer red. Approachable and affordable.


19th June 2017
Laid Back Lager, Cornwall
Marks and Spencer £1.85
Drinker Rating 92

I'm gearing myself up for the solstice this Wednesday - it's not a religious thing, I just like setting light to stuff in the garden on the longest day as generations of us have for millennia.

What we'll need this year as we commune with the ancients is a cold one. Beer always seems appropriate at these points in the year and here's a lovely one from M&S made by the Harbour Brewing Co in Cornwall. It's a correctly made lager, matured over 4 weeks and has a wonderful herbaceous and lemon peel palate. It's well hopped but not like these over-done craft beers. Balanced and refreshing - only 3.5%, chill well and drink to the sun!


12th June 2017
Edna Valle Pinot Noir, California
Majestic £9.99 (mix 6 price)
Drinker Rating 92

Every now and then I come across a wine at a tasting and my note reads 'I'd buy this!'. Not that I wouldn't buy any of the wines that I recommend but it's a note to myself to go out and get some.

This is one such wine, a cooler climate pinot noir from California, well ripened but not at all jammy it is bursting with red cherry notes and has a long and complex finish, all rose petal and earthiness - with just enough tannic structure to hold all these elements together.

£9.99 is at the top end for The Drinker recommendations but I promise you won't be disappointed, it's worth every penny.


5th June 2017
Bellamente Pinot Grigio Rosé
Morrisons £4.50
Drinker Rating 90

In the Sunday Times on 4th June the well respected wine chappie, Will Lyons, recommended 10 rosés for summer. All bar one of these was priced above £9 and one was as high as £24. If you follow this link you will see that I think if you're paying more than £9 you must be something of a silly sausage.

To prove this thesis I am today recommending a more than decent rosé, priced at only £4.50 and I think you'll find it everything you'll need from a summer pink. Dry and refreshing a decent amount of red berry (cranberry) bite. Light, fresh, simple.

Following that link will take you to my summer rosé selections from all of the retailers listed on the right - none of which is priced above £9.



29th May 2017
Leckford Estate Brut
Waitrose £24.99 £19.99 until 06/06/17
Drinker Rating 91

To celebrate English Wine Week here's a lovely example of fizz from our own back yard.

This wine uses the three grapes of Champagne, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grown on chalky flinty soil in Hampshire. It's made in the Traditional Champagne Method and this produces a wonderful yeasty depth, vibrant fruit and a long and complex finish.

It is simply world class.


22nd May 2017
Exquisite Collection NZ Pinot Noir
Aldi £6.99
Drinker Rating 90

Pinot Noir continues to beguile me. The star of red Burgundy, it can be light and fruit driven when young and grown in cool climates and rich and jammy when grown in hotter conditions. When it ages it goes all savoury, think forest floor, damp earth and even ripe farmyard.

This is a fruit driven wine from New Zealand but it does hold a little of the savoury character described, it's light raspberry mixed with a hint of leather.A real beauty and less than seven quid. Amazing.


15th May 2017
Finest Valpolicella Ripasso
Tesco £11.00
Drinker Rating 91

This is a real cracker of a wine. Right up my street and I'll tell you why. When assessing wines it's important to look for a number of key identifiers, balance, length, complexity, intensity and expression.

This Valpolicella Ripasso is a classic of the style, it has a fuller body, a deep, rich intensity and layer upon layer of interesting complexity.

The wine begins all ripe black cherry on the nose with a hint of wood smoke, then as you taste it you get black fruit, rich plum compote, cedar, vanilla and a wonderful savoury forest floor finish. It has poise, balance and elegance. In short it is everything a Valpolicella Ripasso should be.


8th May 2017
Very Rare Palo Cortado Lustau
Marks and Spencer £9.00
Drinker Rating 93

I always think that as Spring is a changeable season you need a changeable sort of drink to go with it. Sherry is just the ticket as it can be really sweet or really dry and everything in between.

This Palo Cortado is wonderfully rich and complex on the nose, fig, walnut and orange peel.On the palate it's concentrated and elegant, think rich fruitcake and old wood.

It's an absolute belter of a wine and a real bargain too. So if it's hot or cold, windy or showery, this wine has enough about it to suit the seasonal weather.



1st May 2017
Finest Blanquette de Limoux 1531
Tesco £9.00
Drinker Rating 90

This is the week for a celebration and that calls for some fizz. Prosecco is the flavour of the month right now but I'm going for this little French beauty which has a touch more depth and complexity.

The wine uses a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin and Mauzac grapes and like Champagne has it's second fermentation (where the fizz is made) in the bottle. The fact that it gets a good 18 months in bottle means that there is a bit more yeasty character, what us wine snobs call autolysis - this creates lovely bread, brioche and toast aromas.

A lovely light fresh fizz, perfect for a spring day. Now bring on the sunshine!


24th April 2017
Bacheroy Josselin Chablis Premier Cru
Asda £12.98
Drinker Rating 92

Wow! It's another Bank Holiday all of a sudden! I like this one mind, all the family stuff of Easter is out of the way and you can get on with indulging yourself.

So this week it's a bit of a pricey one for The Drinker but worth every penny. This is a proper spring wine with sharp green apple acidity but a lovely creamy texture to balance.

Chablis is often over-priced, I reckon Asda have got this spot on. Enjoy this on your own, or if you must in good company and have a great long weekend.


17th April 2017
Yorkshire Gold & Kent IPA
Marks and Spencer £2.40 & £2.00 /bottle
Drinker Rating 92

I'm giving you a couple of cracking beers this week. All the big retailers have widened their beer ranges in the wake of the 'craft beer' movement - what ever that is.

M&S have not only increased the choice of beers but seem to have put some serious work into the classics.

So the Yorkshire Gold is a lovely balanced ale, good depth with a light bitter note and good malty backbone. The Kent IPA is a really good example of the style - the old fashioned IPA none of this American nonsense, and on the plus side it's also gluten free - although you'd never know it.

Really drinkable old school beers. Cheers.


10th April 2017
Saint Chinian, Languedoc Val de Salis
Lidl £7.99
Drinker Rating 92

Get ready. I'm really going out there on this one.

This is possibly the best value wine widely available in the UK right now. It is elegant, complex, balanced and approachable. It's a lovely rich southern French red, a nose of tobacco leaf and red berries with generous fruit and cracked black pepper on the palate. And By Jingo! Look at the price! I know it's not the cheapest wine out there but who really wants that? This is the best value out there and would grace any family dinner over Easter.

Enjoy the long weekend.


3rd April 2017
Taste the Difference German Pinot Blanc
Sainsbury's £7.00 
Drinker Rating 90

German wine is always on the brink of coming back into fashion. They got a terrible name in the 80's for wines which were overly sweet and floral - but I love the quality and variety of German whites and it's important that we don't simply dismiss 'off dry' whites as soapy German rubbish.

This is dry, but the aromatics and lighter alcohol might make you think it's sweeter. Pinot Blanc is one of the noble German grapes and this one gives a lovely fresh fruit salad nose undercut by a lovely minerality on the palate.

A really classy wine for the onset of Easter.


27th March 2017
Wm Morrison White Burgundy
Morrisons £8.00 
Drinker Rating 91

So we're in that transitional time of year. I attempted to sit out in the garden yesterday as the sun went down, I lasted five minutes, it might look warm but it's still bloody freezing when the sun goes down.

So you need one of those inside-outside wines and this is just the ticket. It's got great zippy citrus freshness with a lovely balancing smokiness and spice to enjoy in the sun and in front of the telly. And blow me down - look at the price! A lovely interesting white Burgundy at only eight quid.


20th March 2017
Santa Ema Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Majestic £6.99 
Drinker Rating 89

So sales of Sauvignon Blanc increase year on year and I wonder why. I'm not a big fan of the Kiwi SBs, they tend to be very aromatic, all tropical fruit and elderflower, extremely blousey if you ask me. But maybe that's the answer, they are popular because they really taste of something, rather than the light, dry, neutral pinot grigios available.

But if you're getting a bit bored with the BIG New Zealand sauvignons then now's the time to try them from Chile. Often grow at altitude in cooler temperatures they mature for a bit longer and produce more subtle wines just like this one from Majestic.

It's a really well made and elegant wine, much like it's sister the Sauvignon Gris (same price also at Majestic). Making cool climate wines cool.



12th March 2017
Hook Norton Double Stout
Waitrose & others £1.79  500ml bottle and 
about £3.80 a pint if you can find it in pubs.
Drinker Rating 91

I spend a week every March in fine company drinking beer and betting on the horses at the Cheltenham Festival. For me next week is Christmas.

So what better to go with Cheltenham than a wonderful Cotswold Beer from one of my favorite breweries? I've chosen Hook Norton's Double Stout and not only it it a very fine dark beer but it's also St Paddy's Day this week and it's a million miles better than Guinness.

So here's to the beer and fingers crossed for some BIG wins on the horses.


6th March 2017
Finest Soave Classico Superiore
Tesco £7.00
Drinker Rating 91

It's nearly time for the sun to come out. It's deffo getting warmer this week, I'll have that barbie dusted down before the month's out.

This is a little glass of sunshine, Soave is much maligned but can be really good - particluarly if labelled Classico. It has enough lightness of touch to be delicate, but it's got a lovely depth and peachiness on the palate. So this is a real surprise of a wine, just like a lovely sunny day in March.



27th February 2017
Bergerac 2015
Lidl £4.99
Drinker Rating 90

So they've gone and named a wine after John Nettles - well about time too. You'll find this little beauty on the shelves at Lidl at a remarkable price for a decent red from right next to Bordeaux.

The wines of Bergerac have had a bit of an uplift in recent years. In times past they would be over tannic, teeth staining, paint stripper jobs but they've certainly upped their game lately.

This one has a good solid fruit base, enough tannic structure but not overbearing and a little hint of coal tar about it. You'll find it by the big red letter B on the front and the remarkable £4.99 price tag!


20th February 2017
Hine Rare VSOP
Master of Malt £42.10
Drinker Rating 90

I've just had a tooth out and need a little comfort, no, not soft fluffy comfort - I need Man comfort. What would James Delaney in Taboo have after such a procedure? Why Brandy of course. In the words of Samuel Johnson, "No Sir! Beer is the drink for boys, wine the drink for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy! For brandy can do soonest for a man what drink can do for a man." 

I'm opting for Hine Rare VSOP,warming and fortifying, lovely floral nose and a tropical fruit palate.

Come here Hine, I have a use for you.


13th February 2017
Blason du Rhone, Cotes du Rhone Villages
Waitrose £6.99 (offer price)
Drinker Rating 90

As a confirmed grumpy bastard I'm not doing a Valentine's recommendation, no, nothing pink and frivolous for me, instead a serious red.

This is a classic Rhone red, grenache led but lower in alcohol than you might expect. It makes up for it with a solid juicy black cherry palate, a touch of spice and firm but not overbearing tannins.

This super little Rhone is on offer until 21/02 so get some in to see you through the last of the cold of winter.


6th February 2017
Taste the Difference Vintage Cava
Sainsburys £7.00 (offer price)
Drinker Rating 90

There are some changes afoot with Cava, the Spanish are creating a new grading so that we can distinguish the top end from the run of the mill. These wines will be labeled 'cava de Paraje Calificado' but won't hit the shelves for a year or so.

This is a good thing but also reflects a recent change in the quality of Cava that we've been getting of late. About 15 years ago, before Prosecco was a thing, Cava became very fashionable and as such lots of quite poor, very cheap wine flooded the market. People soon went off this over acidic nasty stuff and switched to lighter and more approachable Prosecco. Well this has now changed and some really good and affordable Cava is now back en vogue.

Get this Vintage number from Sainsbury's good green apple, hint of citrus and biscuit. Complex and affordable.


30th January 2017
Wine Atlas Carmenere (Chile)
Asda £4.98
Drinker Rating 90

Carmenere is fast becoming one of the signature grapes of Chile. In character it's somewhere between merlot and cab sauvignon, full-on fruit, soft tannins and full bodied.

This is a cracker for less than a fiver when you consider it's been shipped half way across the globe. It's a big wine, full blackberry, spice rack and vanilla. Super stuff for a cosy winter night in.



23rd January 2017
Tierra Y Hombre Pinot Noir
Marks and Spencer £6.00 Online offer price
Drinker Rating 90

Chile continues to be the go to country for the best value wines. This pinot noir is only £6 but if you were to find an equivalent standard wine from New Zealand, France or Germany you'd be paying in excess of £15.
It's a classy light bodied red, fruit driven, all redcurrant and raspberry with a pleasing hint of wood smoke.

Great balance, lovely depth, top value.



16th January 2017
Wm Morrison South African Pinotage
Morrisons £7.00
Drinker Rating 90

It's still a little while to payday so we'll need a decent cheapie to see us through the gloom. This Pinotage is perfect for the darkest month of the year, it's got bags of ripe black summer fruit, a good dollop of warming chocolate, solid but not overpowering tannin and a decent alcohol backbone. It's the full works for only seven quid. Bargain.



9th January 2017
Alhambra 1925 Reserva
Majestic £9.99 (6x 330ml)
Drinker Rating 89

Sometimes you just need a beer. I think it's important to have a cold bottle in the fridge for 'those days' when only a beer will do.

Alhambra 1925 Reserva is Spanish - surprise surprise, and it's a really well made lager -35 days brewing gives depth and a lovely caramel character. This is a really classy beer and very well priced too.

So please remember that Majestic is not just for wine, check out their gin selection and the beer too. And get these in your fridge for the challenging days ahead.



2nd January 2017
Tesco Chilean Merlot
Tesco £4.00
Drinker Rating 89

Skint? Yep, me too. It's that time of year, over indulged and over spent. Ho hum. At least you'll still find some good value wines - particularly at Tesco. It has to be said than not all of the Tesco cheapies hit the mark, many of them are quite poor - but this isn't one of them.

It's pretty straightforward as a wine which is really much as you'd expect for £4, but there's just enough black pepper and oak to keep it interesting. Good old fashioned simple velvety merlot.