I put the new “this loves” Aldi wines range to the test. Which involves eating. Lots of it.

this loves Aldi wines range

Those wine labels are key to our buying habits (I’ve said many a time) and Aldi has hit on a canny marketing idea to draw us in to a new range of wines.

If you see “chicken” or “lamb” or “pizza” shouting at you in italics from the retailer’s wine aisles it is because the this loves Aldi wines range hooks into our desire to choose the best wine to go with food.

Aldi this loves wine range
The  this loves Aldi wines range

It’s a clever little marketing ploy which will see six new this loves Aldi wines introduced by the end of October. The wines (all £4.99) are three whites – chardonnay, chenin blanc, pinot grigio – and three reds – sangiovese, malbec-shiraz and monastrell-petit verdot.

Sam Caporn,  Aldi’s wine expert, says: “A lot of shoppers find food and wine pairing intimidating, especially when faced with a wall of wine in some supermarket aisles. Aldi’s This…Loves range of wines features great tasting, approachable and food friendly bottles that have been created with food loving consumers in mind.”

You know I like it when a food gauntlet is thrown down and I couldn’t resist a little culinary playfulness.

I Put the this loves Aldi wines range to the test

I cooked pizza and poured “this sangiovese loves pizza” (12.5% abv) and for less than a fiver I thought it was a happy little wine.  It certainly wasn’t upset by the pizza challenge it had been set. But I disagree with the label description “richly full bodied” as it is  light bodied and fruity. That aside the strawberry and cherry flavour notes and decent acidity said “hey” to my pepperoni pizza and it said “hey” back.

this sangiovese loves pizza Aldi wine
this sangiovese loves pizza – a Pepperoni pizza

I made a hot pot and shared a bottle of “this monastrell petit verdot loves lamb” (13% abv) with chums, who agreed this wine did indeed love lamb. It has a combination of spice, black fruits, herbs and a flicker of violet.  It is  my favourite of the range. (Saying that, I’ve still to track down the “steak-loving” malbec. I’ll update!)

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I wasn’t as taken with the three whites and “this chardonnay loves chicken” (12.5% abv) made me the happiest. I’d fried chicken thighs in Moroccan spices with chilli and peppers and folded in some couscous.

Aldi probably didn’t have that chicken theme in mind. Sorry Aldi. The light fruitiness of the chardonnay (apples and citrus) cut through the spice and was a refreshing counterbalance.

You know I’m not a lover of pinot grigio (which “loves fish”) and it was well, it was OK-ish; and the chenin blanc which “loves fish and chips” was another oh-so wine. It is light on flavour, fruit and the satisfaction factor.

Overall though, not bad, not bad.

First published in over 30 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 

International Sherry Week: The one where I experiment with Spanish food and drink

Internagtional Sherry Week food and sherry pairing

Every year I don my Scientific Experiment cloak ahead of International Sherry Week. I’ve done it again –  I’ve mixed and matched a glass or two of sherry with some tasty home-cooked morsels.

To help me on my way I browsed 101 Great Ways to Enjoy Sherry (details later) for sherry and food pairings. Here we go then.

International Sherry Week Tio Pepe Fino
Tio Pepe Fino

Padron peppers, meatballs and cheese. Oh, and sherry

Tio Pepe Fino (RRP £10, 75cl, widely available) is my first match and a fino is perfect with salty foods. I flashed padron peppers in a pan with olive oil until they blistered, then sprinkled with sea salt. Oh my, they were so incredibly moreish. I’d chilled the fino and its cool almond, savoury nature was a perfect glass with the warm, salt-smothered peppers.

International sherry week padron peppers tio pepe
This was yummy. My first attempt at padron peppers with a glass of Tio Pepe

Morrisons has a good range of inexpensive sherries and Oloroso Dry Sherry (£6, 37.5cl) won the best value fortified wine under £8 at this year’s International Wine Challenge.

International Sherry Week Morrisons Oloroso Sherry
Morrisons Oloroso Sherry

Oloroso means “fragrant” and it is certainly that. It is aged in American oak casks and the air contact creates a mahogany-coloured sherry which has aromas of sweet figs, Bonfire toffee, hazelnuts and raisins. The sweet nose is deceptive, as in the mouth it was dry and a good contrast with a plate of chorizo and Spanish hams.

While I’ve been writing this, some albondigas Spanish meatballs have been simmering. I’m pouring a drop of Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS (RRP £19.99, 37.5cl, Ocado, Oddbins). VORS means “very old rare sherry” and indicates a wine which has been aging for over 30 years. This then must be special.

Internatioal Sherry week Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS
Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS with my home-made Albondigas. Very tasty.

The nose is intense with dried fruits, apricots, and burnt caramel.  I had dashed the albondigas with wine, smoked paprika and garlic; the woodiness of the paprika together with the heart and soul flavours of the very old amontillado is brilliant.

International Sherry Week Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS
Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS

The pudding I forgot to have But the sherry is amazing

A sister sherry to Del Duque, from González Byass, is Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS (RRP £19.99, 37.5cl, Ocado, Waitrose Cellar, Majestic). If I’d remembered to buy ice cream or tiramisu I’d be able to tell you first-hand that this PX is the most wonderful way to add a flourish to dessert. I know that it would be just heaven. You need a sweet tooth for this unctuous nectar of deliciousness, which is rich with notes of molasses, black treacle and prunes.

Aldi has a new sherry range in store from this week, including Exquisite Collection Cream Sherry (£5.99, 50cl) which I’ve poured with a slice of Stilton. The sherry isn’t as overpowering as some creams, as it is more subtle.  It still delivers a silky rich waltz of dried fruits and toffee. It took off on that palate dancefloor with the cheese and together they didn’t put a foot wrong.

PS There’s a  new sherry in the Co-op during International Sherry Week. Mil Pesetas Manzanilla Sherry (£6.50) is available pre-chilled from October 8.

International Sherry Week facts

Did you know that the UK is the number one export market for sherry? Each year over 10 million bottles are consumed here in the UK. We love it.

The 5th International Sherry Week takes place from October 8-14. Follow the hashtag #sherrywines on social media; go to www.sherry.wine

Huge thanks for the food pairing inspiration in Fiona Beckett’s e-book 101 Great Ways to Enjoy Sherry (£4.50) which can be downloaded from matchingfoodandwine.com

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