SOME nights you can’t be bothered going overboard cooking food, but you still neeeeeeed a glass of midweek wine.
Beans on toast may be the way to go. Or sausage and mash. Or chippie shop fish and chips. A tikka masala ready meal?
If you want to perk up your plates (and who can blame you) any wine will do if it’s a wine you like; but here’s some easy peasy thoughts on your easy peasy weekday meals.
Baked beans in tomato sauce: Think barlotti beans in a rich tomato sauce. Does that conjure up an Italian red? Tomatoes are sweet and acidic, but cooked they can go well with chianti or sangiovese.
Sausage and mash: Let’s compare it to a French rustic stew, though they probably woudn’t serve that with a wonderfully gloopy buttery mash measled with black pepper. But perhaps a red, with a hint of spice and fruit; a light pinot noir or a red from southern Rhone.
Chip shop chippie tea: I had a chippie tea last night, the first day of my staycation holidays. Because it was the first day of my hols we had some sparkles. With fish? Yes and why not. Cava bubbles really cut through the greasy batter but played softly softly with the fish.
Chicken tikka masala: There’s cream, there’s chicken and there’s spice in this British invention. A toughie for a wine perhaps. Carmenère is a good choice for a meaty Indian, and for Chinese or Thai spicy meals (a nice noodly stir fry with lots of chilli on a Wednesday night?) think of a riesling or chenin blanc. For a tikka masala, look for a viognier which is full of creamy stone fruits; or even a sauvignon blanc which will lift and mingle.
In my glass … some new kids on the block.
Echo Falls has brought out a new Fruit Fusion aromatised wine-based drinks range, with three “flavours”. There’s a rosé with summer berries, (9.5% abv), red wine with raspberry and cassis (11% abv) and a white wine with white peach and mango (9.5% abv). They’ve been launched exclusively in Asda this summer, and I’ve found them at £4 online.
The bottles shout “I AM FRUIT”, “I AM GIRLIE”, “I AM SO PRETTY”.
So what we have are white and red wine blends in turn blended with fruit extracts. I tried the rosé and red. They are sweet, oh yes they are. Each bottle declares (even the red!) “serve chilled or with ice”.
The pink was pinkly perked up with rose-hips, raspberries and ripe, ripe strawberries. I wasn’t sure about a hint of “metal”. I added some Chambord and it gave it a pleasant enough edge.
The red? Well I chilled, as per request. It’s easy to forget this is alcohol, it is so driven through with sweet blackberries and raspberries like a summer pudding. I wasn’t keen at first, it felt over-produced, a step too far on the flavour factors. Much like when you add an extra herb to a casserole and it spoils the whole thing. But I finished off the bottle happily enough thinking “well, I quite enjoyed that”.
Another new kid on the block is delicious Tesco Finest* Riesling (£7.99) which is just appearing in stores. It is produced from a family-owned winery in eastern Slovenia. I tasted this with some trout baked with ginger, spring onions and chilli; citrus in the riesling was perfect, a lemon-bite was pals with the chilli, and stone fruit cushioned and mellowed the whole affair.
This column first appeared in the saturday extra magazine August 9, 2014