GIVEN the recent reports that suggested that wine had played too
important a part in the social life of a certain Merseyside parish
(News, 24 January), I
have a certain hesitancy in writing about which wines to choose for
I know that, in my own benefice, the availability of a glass of
wine has saved a number of events from making a loss. Perhaps
surprisingly, we have been more successful when we have not charged
for a glass of wine, but asked for donations.
To some extent, the nature of the event can dictate the wine
that you buy. If it is needed for a parish supper, for example, the
serving of the wine is a more leisurely affair, and it might be
best to purchase a bag-in-box. If you are under pressure to get
wine out rapidly in the interval, say, of the church pantomime, it
is better to buy wine in bottles with screw caps. Struggling with a
corkscrew can be very frustrating at such a time, as can the fiddly
tap on a bag-in-box.
The question of price is an important one. Buying the cheapest
possible wine does have its attractions, but it is scarcely likely
to get the customer asking for a second glass. I also find that it
is essential that red wines should not have many tannins, or whites
too much acidity. Nevertheless, the nature of the event can make a
difference: some tannins are more acceptable at a sausage-and-mash
supper than as a stand-alone wine in an interval.
For those seeking the cheapest wine, the final demise of the
three-bottles-for-£10 offer at ASDA must come as a blow. They now
say, however, that they have more than "50 wines at £4 or less".
Certainly, their range of low-priced wines appears to be the
Many churches might wish to serve Fairtrade wines at their
events, but it is increasingly difficult to find these at
reasonable prices. My local Co-op superstore seems to offer only a
three-litre bag-in-box of South African Chenin-Semillon at £18.99,
the equivalent of £4.75 a bottle. But their website suggests that
they also have an Argentine Bonarda-Shiraz at £4.99, and Chilean
three-litre BIB Merlot-Cabernet-Shiraz at £17.99 (£4.50 per bottle
equivalent). Non-Fairtrade wines from the Co-op that seem of
interest: Vanderburg Cape Shiraz-Pinotage (currently £2 off, at
£4.49), the Spanish Toronegro, from Extremadura (£4), and French
Claret and Côtes du Rhône, both at £4.75.
I am a fan of the Sainsbury's House Wines range, but some that I
have enjoyed, such as the Muscadet, in white, and Tempranillo and
Côtes du Rhône, in red, have risen to £4.75. Their bland but
inoffensive white wine, Soave, is available in a number of formats:
the most practical would seem to be the two-litre screw-cap bottle
ASDA seems strongest in its range of red wines: from Italy, try
their Morano Sangiovese Rubicone (£4); Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
(£4.25); and Chile, El Riquelme Malbec (£4). As a
cheap-and-cheerful white, the Seven Hills Italian Vino da Tavola
(£7.50, two litre) should be worth a punt.
I hope your social events run better as a result of these