Red wines: Three to try, a rioja, carmenere and barbera

red wines review

I write about wine and other drinkies in a handful of regional UK newspapers; I share my thoughts here on One Foot in the Grapes. Here’s a selection of red wines reviewed in recent weeks.

Three red wines should the fancy take you

Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja red wine review
Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja

♦ Red wines are probably a safe bet to warm your toes if sunny days don’t live up to expectations. Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja (13.5% abv, £9.49 at Majestic or £7.99 if in a case of six) is a blend of tempranillo and grenache.

The wine has spent eight months in American oak which lends flavours of vanilla and a grind of spice.

It is generous with its fruit, gifting a hug of cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours of warming ripe red fruit. It’s as cosy and comforting as your favourite slippers.

This wine would be great with a lamb casserole; or if you peek outside and the barbecue is calling, then burnt-edged sausages could be just the trick.
(Price correct at time of print publication: May 2016)

Rive Barbera d'Asti red wine review
Rive Barbera d’Asti

♦  Despite the  miserable summer weather,  I managed to sneak in a barbecue and poured a red wine with burgers.  

Rive Barbera d’Asti (14% abv RRP £10 from independents including thesecretcellar.co.uk/, henningswine.co.uk ampsfinewines.co.uk)

The wine has been aged in a mix of new and old oak barrels  for 18 months to create a complex, comforting wine.

Black cherries and plum aromas huddled at the top of the glass together with a flicker of mint; then oodles of rich cherries mingled with spice in the mouth to transform and uplift our ordinary burgers.

(Price correct at time of print publication: July 2016)

Root 1 Carmenere 2014 red wine review
Root 1 Carmenere 2014

♦ By all means get your kicks on Route 66, but if you want a decent drop of Chilean Carmenere for under a tenner, my advice is to take Root 1.

Root 1 Carmenere 2014, (£8, 13.5% abv, Morrisons) is a mix of 85% carmenere and 15% syrah grapes, all grown on ungrafted roots (hence the name).

This is a delicious drop, with rich berry flavours, a hint of spice and slight vanilla on the finish, and a gloriously silky texture that feels like … well, silk on the tongue.

Although it’s a full-bodied wine, there’s a delicacy to the structure that goes perfectly with a nice bit of steak or a roast beef dinner, although you certainly wouldn’t complain if you had it with a spicy tomato pasta dish.

(Price correct at time of print publication: July 2016)

Reviews first published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals  

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Which cream liqueur wins 14-bottle mystery taste test?

irish cream liqueur reviews

A cream liqueur is a snuggly comfort cushion as the cold winter wind whips around outside. Now its getting cold I asked some of my girlie pals to help me blind-taste 14 cream liqueurs.

They didn’t complain. We’re not industry experts but we’re typical comfort cushion girlies who love a cream liqueur especially at Christmas.

I wrapped all 14 bottles in tin foil and then popped a number on them – don’t worry, by the time it got round to the blind-tasting I’d forgotten which was which.

I gave my pals the rules  – drink lots of water – keep the glasses clean – be honest – write down your scores and your comments.

blind taste test cream liqueur bottles

Then get set, glasses at the ready .. let’s go.  One pal told me afterwards: “I really loved trying all these. Who would have thought they could all taste so different, it was a real eye-opener.”

I couldn’t agree more. There wasn’t much to choose from in the scores once we got beyond the top five, but our girlies’ thoughts were oh so varied.

Let’s move on … here’s our humble, fun and slightly scientific, results. 

Continue reading “Which cream liqueur wins 14-bottle mystery taste test?”

The winning cream liqueur:

Specially Selected Irish Cream, AldiSpecially Selected Irish Cream Liqueur (Aldi £6.99) This was by far and away the winner. When I did the Big Reveal there were plenty of oohs and aahs.

Two pals had been convinced this was Baileys and were quite surprised. I thought it had a little note of citrus – where that came from only knows.

It was powerful on the alcohol, but not as much as a Baileys by comparison. One chum said “this is creamy but not too strong” and another … “very smooth to taste”.


Second place

Baileys Irish Cream LiqueurBaileys Original Irish Cream (several retailers, in Tesco at  £12) This is probably the tipple we all think of when talking Irish creams. I’d challenged all the girls to see if they could spot it when blind-tasting. No-one did.

You don’t realise how much of a kick Baileys has until you try it alongside other creams –  I blindly said it was a gloopy glug of alcohol with a strong final alcohol kickback.

One of the girls said it was  “stronger than it smells” which probably explains why she was gradually leaning into the wall.


Third place

Sainsbury Taste the Difference Irish Cream LiqueurTaste the Difference Irish Cream Liqueur (£10, down from £12 until December 8, Sainsbury, 1 litre)

 “Ugh” said one friend who didn’t like it at all – but her sister declared it was her favourite out of all of the cream liqueurs.

She gave a *thumbs-up*. Although on second thoughts, she might have been trying to hang onto the chair. I thought the cream and some chocolatey notes combined really well. A nice fling with vanilla.


Fourth Place

Delaney's Irish Cream LiqueurDelaney’s Irish Cream Liqueur (£5.99 Co-op, 70cl) This tastes of Christmas! proclaimed one of my pals who should win a Guiding Badge for cream tasting  dedication (if only they did them). 

She described this as having aromas of nutmeg, mingling with vanilla. When she went back to the Delaney’s after tasting all the others, she said she also loved its creaminess.

I thought there was more emphasis on dairy cream than alcohol. One girlie threw a curve ball saying she could smell and taste butterscotch. I tried again – and you know, I did too.


Fifth Place

Feeney's Irish Cream LiqueurFeeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur  (£10, reduced from £12 until December 8, Tesco, 70cl) Feeney’s won a Platinum award and ‘Best in Class’ at the 2015 SIP Awards. It might not have been best in class with my ladies, but it was definitely holding its hand up and winning praise.

I thought it was a pick-me-up luxury in a glass, and our dedicated sipper said “it tastes of cocoa and is very rich”.  One of the sisters picked it as her favourite out of the bunch and said “lovely like Ovaltine!”

Though I don’t know what one of the girls  was doing, as she wrote “the alcohol goes up your nose”. Well – this was the 14th disguised bottle in the taste test line-up.