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When it comes to buying a bottle of wine, you want it to taste great, but you don’t want to break the bank every time you fancy a glass.
So how do you find the right balance between value for money and great quality? It’s really not as hard as it sounds.
The most important thing to remember when choosing wine is that it should suit your taste. There’s no point buying an expensive bottle to try and impress your guests when you don’t enjoy the wine that’s inside.
Luckily, there’s a whole world of wine at your fingertips, with flavours and aromas you’re bound to fall in love with, and you won’t have to remortgage your house to afford them!
Let's find your perfect match...
Food & wine pairings
First, consider why you are buying the wine. Are you hosting a dinner party or special occasion?
In this case, whilst it's important to choose something which all (or the majority) of your guests will enjoy, it also needs to complement the food you’re serving.
There’s no better way to welcome people into your home, than with a delicious appetiser and a glass of something fizzy! Opt for Champagne if you’re creating a fine dining experience, but Cava and Prosecco both do a great job at setting a celebratory tone for the evening.
If you’re serving chicken or turkey, you want to choose a wine that doesn’t overpower the meat. An unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Noir would be an ideal match for your Sunday Roast!
3. Red Meat
Red meat on the menu? Then you need a wine with ‘high tannins’ (these give the wine its dry, bitter element). Red wines from Bordeaux are a particularly good choice. Likewise, Argentinian Malbec would be a perfect accompaniment. There’s usually a reasonable price tag on these too!
4. Vegetarian Dishes
Most white wines will work with vegetable dishes, so long as they are not too rich or oaky. Try a Sauvignon Blanc for a crisp and refreshing match. If you’re serving roasted or root vegetables, these can stand up to lighter style reds too including Zinfandel and Chianti.
5. Creamy Dishes
If you have a rich and creamy dish such as a pasta alfredo, you need a wine that will counter the richness. A cost-effective, light Italian wine such as Soave will be the ideal companion. Light, unoaked Chardonnay is also a good choice.
6. Spicy Food
Serve aromatic wines with your curries or spiced dishes such as Reisling or Gruner Veltliner. The floral flavours and perceived sweetness make for a fantastic pairing. You can even choose Rose, so long as it isn’t too dry or this can become acidic.
When it comes to pairing wine with your dessert, you need a wine that can match the level of sweetness. If you don't match the sweetness, the flavour of your wine would be lost. We’d recommend a Sauternes or even a sparkling Rose.
It has long been recognised that red wine is the ideal partner for cheese, but this is not an exclusive match! Many sweet white wines are also a dream pairing when it comes to blue cheese, and dry whites can complement creamier styles.
How much should you spend on wine?
Whether you’re buying wine for a one-off occasion or you enjoy it on a regular basis, we’ve got some amazing tips to help you get the best wine for your money.
1. Consider your budget
Good wine simply doesn’t come cheap. If you’re spending less than £5 per bottle, then you’re mostly paying for the cost of the packaging and shipping. In fact, in the average bottle of £5 wine, the cost of the wine itself is only around 40p!
Therefore, it is a good rule of thumb to budget between £7-£10 per bottle. That way you’ll know the wine you’re drinking is of decent quality, but it is also a sustainable price for you to purchase regularly.
2. Change your region
Some wine regions simply make great wines, at reasonable prices. You may need to taste a few bottles to find one you really like but, when you do, you’ll be able to enjoy a good wine at a good price all year round.
Some of these amazing value wine countries include Spain, Portugal, Australia, Chile and Argentina.
If you’re a red wine lover, try Spanish Riojas for incredible flavour and value. You can pick up even the more prestigious Reservas (for a richer flavour), for under £10. Need a red that really packs a punch? Head to Argentina for a smoky Malbec and avoid paying over the odds!
If white wine is more your thing, look to Portugal for inspiration. Their Vinho Verde is fruity and refreshing and can usually be found at around £7 per bottle. Used to drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Why not give Chile a try and save money? After all, wine should be an exploration, but by sticking with the grapes you know you’ll enjoy, it’s almost risk-free!
3. When buying fizz…
Looking to impress? We’re here to tell you that Champagne isn’t the only fizz that'll win favour with your fussy friends.
Prosecco is the most obvious palate and purse-friendly option. With its light fruity flavour and persistent bubbles, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy amongst friends. If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, turn your Prosecco into a sparkling cocktail, with a dash of elderflower liqueur and a fresh raspberry for decoration!
If Prosecco isn’t your thing, try a good bottle of Spanish Cava. Incredibly rich, and made in the same way as Champagne, you can pick up a good bottle of Cava for less than £10 in most Supermarkets.
If you do still have your heart set on Champagne, then shop around! Use an online wine comparison site to find the best deal on your favourite bottle. There’s always an offer to be found and when it’s right at your fingertips, you won’t even need to traipse to the shops!
4. Buy your wine ‘by-the-case’
Most wine merchants and supermarkets will knock off 10% or so when you purchase a case of wine, further driving down the price. Although it might seem like a large amount to part with initially, you’ll definitely be making great savings overall. You’ll always have a spare bottle handy for those unexpected birthday gifts!
Often, this discount will apply to wines that are already on offer too, so you could cut the cost substantially.
Do you have any tips when it comes to buying the perfect bottle of wine? Let us know in the comments below!