Wine Press: A train journey with some travel-sized wine bottles

DRINKING wine on the move can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if one of those moves is a Northern Soul wiggle on a Christmas party dance floor.

That, my friends, is my kind of move. But holding a glass of wine at the same time is not recommended. Health and safety apart, there’s lots of spillage.

 travel-sized wine bottles
A selection of wine “journey juice” as my travelling pal Katie describes it

I’m much happier drinking on the move but sitting down at the same time. The perfect place is on a train. The other day I bought a selection of those travel-sized wine bottles (20cl bottles) from Marks & Spencer and Tesco for no reason other than I passed the stores en route to the train station ahead of a long journey.

Marks & Sparks opened the Train Test with a couple of cavas. The first didn’t last much further than   the end of the departure platform.

Rosado Cava Prestige, M&S
Rosado Cava Prestige, M&S

Rosado Cava Prestige (£3.95 for 20cl). A “fresh and fruity rosada”, declares the label on the bottle. This, along with the other M&S cava, is branded as exclusive and unique to Marks & Spencer. I thought … “strawberries and squeaky tart in a nice lip-smacking way”. Did I write that? That’s wine for you.  But a lovely little pink taster of a fizz.

Brut Cava Prestige, M&S
Brut Cava Prestige, M&S

Its sister wine is Brut Cava Prestige (£3.95, 20 cl).  My notes said “shortbread, lemon and apple blossom”.  My lovely traveling pal Katie said “it just takes like wine. But I like it”.

Are they worth the money? Well it’s almost £4 a pop (even though there are several poppety-pops in a bottle). I’d say perhaps you can justify one to start your journey, especially if you’re heading home for Christmas in  a few weeks’ time.

Now things go downhill.  I’m not a fan of the mass-produced Big Label whites and I had two of them.

Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014

First up, Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014. (£2.29 from Tesco, and as I write you can get four small bottles for the price three).  Of the two, this was the brightest. There was gooseberry, and citrus and an aftertaste at the back of the mouth  akin to sucking a quarter of a lemon. Sadly, a hint of metal.

Chardonnay 2013 from Gallo Family Vineyards
Chardonnay 2013 from Gallo Family Vineyards

Chardonnay 2013 from Gallo Family Vineyards (Tesco price as above) Oh dear. Melon and pineapple and a rather unpleasant manufactured rubber taste. I did not enjoy. I wouldn’t buy again, small bottle or otherwise.

Never again.
Never again.

My lesson learned. I won’t bother spending over a tenner on these little things. In future I will invest in a full bottle of what I like, take a bag large enough to carry it (and a plastic cup of course). There’s the added bonus of luggage being lighter at the destination. My head too, I imagine.

In my glass … On the upside, this week I really enjoyed two wines as a precursor to Christmas.

Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz 2013
Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz 2013

Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz 2013 (RRP £7.95 from The Wine Society and Rude Wines). I really loved this Australian shiraz, described as full of rich varietal fruit and a vibrant spiciness.  For me, a hug of a winter warmer. It’s a soft velvety shiraz, deep, dark and warming with vanilla clouds above a black fruit bombe. No harsh tannins, smooth all the way.

Aulee cremant 2

Château de l’Aulée Crémant de Loire ‘Cuvée Jeanne d’Arc’ NV (£12, www.oddbins.com) This is named after the Loire Valley vineyard where the chenin blanc grapes are grown and where Saint Joan is said to have once rested. 

The bubbles are refined and consistent, like a fine playful sunlit dapple on an autumn dew-dropped lawn. There’s pressed orchard apples and crunchy caramelised apple aromas, a little butterscotch and there’s some grilled pineapple waving in the background.

This first appeared in the saturday extra magazine November 29, 2014 

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express