Spar wines: New own-label wine range is a winner on taste and your pocket

Spar wines

I have to be quick to keep up with the ever-changing selection of wines on our High Streets and when I catch up with some wine ranges I wish I hadn’t.

But the newly-released Spar wines have had people talking. I gave a nod to The Alphabet Series Pinot Noir at Christmas and it is one of my absolute favourites in the new range. It also received multiple thumbs-ups when I shared it in a wine-tasting. I didn’t say where the wine was from or how much it was (£6, actually) until I’d scouted for opinions around the room. There were lots of “oooohs” when the pinot noir’s identity was revealed.

What’s appertaining then. Spar has set itself a mission to make choosing wine simpler for its customers and has begun its journey with the release of five entry level wines for £5 and, in the level above, there are a dozen varietal Spar wines in an Alphabet Series at £6 each.

 One of the drivers behind the range is Master of Wine Philippa Carr who definitely has the “people touch”. When Philippa was at Asda she developed the Wine Atlas range which brings lesser-known, tasty, varietal wines to the high street shelves (many of them for about a fiver).

Philippa strikes again – together she and the Spar team have created a  wine range definitely worth a look.

At a pocket-friendly price you’d be a fool not to seek out these Spar wines; and with a couple of thousand stores across the country it shouldn’t be too difficult.  They’re jolly decent wines at the price. Here’s six of them.

Spar wines: Three Fruity Everyday wines


Bold Red (£5, 13% abv) is a Spanish wine made from 100 percent tempranillo, the grape at the heart of rioja. This wine has been aged for two months in American oak and despite its name, isn’t deep and gloopy. It is a medium-bodied red with a good nose of jammy fruits and a refreshing fruit flavour with just a hint of spice.

Fresh Rosé  (£5, 11.5% abv) is another offering from Spain, cerise in colour from Bobal grapes and has pretty aromas of strawberry and citrus with flavours reflecting much the same.

Fruity White (£5 13% abv) This is a simple South African white, billed as “smooth and mellow”, made from chenin blanc. It’s a kitchen party pourer; not much else to say other than it is an acceptable white at the price to bring out when you need a cheery cheep chink chink!!

Spar wines: Three wines from the Alphabet Range

Pinot Grigio Rosé  (£6, 11.5% abv) is in the Alphabet Series and for a £1 extra offers more of a pink sensation thank the Fresh Rosé . Call me a pinot grigio snob, but when I see the grape on a label I always sigh “oh, well, if I must”. But I really enjoyed this pink from Romania which has aromas of pear, stone fruit and fresh red fruits. It was tasty too.

Sauvignon Blanc (£6, 12% abv) New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc wines have set the tone for many people who enjoy this grape. Spar has sourced its grapes from the Languedoc region of France so you don’t get the punchy fruit notes of a New World version, but a gentler rolling style with citrus and apples. I tasted with a midweek cheese pie; very nice.

Malbec (£6, 13% abv) This Alphabet Series varietal is sourced from its homeland of France, despite Argentina making the grape its own in recent years. Try this wine with a weekend warming casserole after your toes have chilled from a football match or a dog walk. It has soft dark and red fruits and hints of chocolate.

See the full range of Spar wines here and food matching ideas

First published in over 30 Trinity Mirror regional newspapers including: 

Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News –
Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales
–  Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle 
– Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail –
Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Valentine’s Day: Share pink fizz with your loved one (or pink gin if that’s your thing)

Valentine's Day wine

Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday. There’s nothing worse than a wet, cold Wednesday in February so this year you have every excuse to turn #WineWednesday into a special occasion. Also, there’s nothing worse than a wet, cold Thursday with the silent treatment if you’ve forgotten Valentine’s Day. This is your gentle reminder.

Fizz is the way to celebrate romance and if it’s pink fizz then even better.  

A couple of Valentine’s Day pinks under £10

Chateau De Champteloup Crémant De Loire Rosé (£7.99, Aldi, 12% abv) This is a new release from Aldi just in time for Valentine’s Day. Crémant is a brilliant alternative to champagne; several French regions use their local grape varieties to make crémant in the same traditional way as its famous French cousin. This is a pretty fizz, soft with subtle fruit notes of red fruits and dried strawberries.

Borgo Molino Rose Spumante Extra Dry (£9.99, the Co-op 11% abv) This has light, refreshing flavours of strawberry and raspberry, with a hint of vanilla and velvety smooth bubbles (but neither lingers long on the palate). The clear glass bottle, prettily presented in gift-wrapping, is helpfully labelled ‘pink’ so even the colour-blind can enjoy a coordinated Valentine’s Day.

Two special Valentine’s Day sparkling pinks over £20

Akarua Brut Rosé Central Otago (Oz Wines, £22.99, 13% abv) What can I say but this is a wow. As I write I’m three days into a visit to New Zealand and next week I’ll be in the home of this sparkling wine; Central Otago. It is made from hand-picked chardonnay and pinot noir grapes and blended with reserve wine which has been aged in French oak. It has notes of fresh and dried strawberries, a touch of creaminess and a delightful balance. Delicious.

For a super-classy sparkling pink fizz how about one from England. Hush Heath Balfour Kent Brut Rosé 2013 (£35.99, Waitrose) is a blend of the classic grapes which are used in Champagne –  chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. The grapes for this sparkler are grown in Kent in the shadow of a Tudor manor. It has aromas of rosehip, a whisper of strawberry and a peep of apple. In the mouth it is mouth-watering and elegant with a hint of stone fruit.

Make a Cupid’s Kiss Gin Cocktail for Valentine’s Day

If gin is your thing to share with a loved one then how about making Cupid’s Kiss, a gin cocktail recipe using Gin Lane 1751 Victoria Pink Gin (RRP £20 for 70cl, in Aldi, Selfridges and Amazon, 40% abv)


Gin Lane 1751 Victoria Pink Gin Valentine's Day
Gin Lane 1751 Victoria Pink Gin

The gin is blended with bitters in a style first created by the Royal Navy, one reason being it reportedly helped cure sea-sickness. To make the cocktail muddle some strawberries in a cocktail shaker and add two parts Gin Lane 1751 “Victoria” Pink Gin and one part Cointreau. Fill the shaker with ice and shake. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, top with tonic water to taste and garnish with a strawberry.

PS … a sparkler with love at its heart is the perfectly-named I Heart Prosecco (£7.99, reduced from £8.99 at Bargain Booze until February 26, 11% abv) which has  acacia flower aromas and subtle apple and peach flavours.

First published in over 30 Trinity Mirror regional newspapers including: 

Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News –
Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales
–  Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle 
– Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail –
Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express