It’s traditional to write a column on the wine trends for the upcoming year, but frankly, who can predict anything with any degree of certainty any more? Although I’ve recently devoted two columns to nolo (no- and low-alcohol) drinks, which are one of the few incontrovertible patterns in our current liquid consumption, I’m certainly not going to stick my neck out and tell you that orange wine is going to be big (although it might be) or that we’re all going to be drinking Portuguese wine in 2021. Although, at £3.99 a bottle for Aldi’s Animus Portuguese Red (13%), why wouldn’t you?
Still, there is one light on the horizon that’s not always reported in the usual doom-laden headlines: if you’re a fan of new world wines, there shouldn’t be any major hiccups in wine prices going forward, although if the pound is weak, prices will creep up inexorably. “Cost-conscious British customers may end up drinking more wine from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, instead of their favourites from France, Italy or Spain,” says Oleg Dmitriev of Italian wine specialists Independent Wine. “For most new world wines, the prices won’t change, because countries will sign ‘continuation agreements’ with the UK, repeating the same tariffs we had through the EU. But European wines may become more expensive under new import rules, so producers of inexpensive French Languedoc wines or Italian chianti may see part of their shelf space taken by Antipodean cabernets and sauvignon blancs.”
Considering we’re still Australia’s number one market, that’s good news both for them and for us, especially as the quality of Australian staples such as chardonnay, cabernet and shiraz have improved immeasurably in the past few years.
Otherwise it’s, um, who knows? I think the only thing that’s safe to say is that, despite the fact that some of you have been creatively using lockdown to explore the wine world, most readers’ basic requirement is just a decent wine of whatever hue, not too expensive, and plenty of it. If you find something you like at a good price, I’d lay some in just in case the government comes over all puritanical, cordons off the supermarket booze aisles and tells us we’re not allowed to buy alcohol after 6pm.
Whatever stumbling blocks there are in the short term, there’s still a lot of wine in the country, so we’re not going to run out just yet. Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring, don’t panic …
Four cheap and cheerful wines to brighten the new year
Cono Sur Bicicleta Riesling 2019
£7.50 Tesco, 12.5%. Bright, zesty, limey, Chilean riesling to drink with Thai and other south-east Asian salads.
Castellore Italian Primitivo 2018
£4.99 Aldi, 13.5%. A reminder that if you enjoy rich, brambly reds, southern Italy’s primitivo is a name to conjure with. Particularly at this price. One for hearty, meaty pasta dishes such as lasagne.
£7 (on offer until 2 February), 14%. If you’re a pinot noir fan, this is a brilliant deal. Full of soft, ripe raspberry fruit. Good with anything mushroomy.
£7.50, 14.5%. Despite the alcohol content, shiraz from the Margaret River in Western Australia has just that touch more freshness than its South Australian Barossa counterparts, as well as a delicious, peppery edge. Perfect for a steak or a Sunday roast.
• For more by Fiona Beckett, go to matchingfoodandwine.com