supermarket wine

Under this label, we focus on wines that you can get from the likes of Sainsbury, Tesco, Oddbins and Asda, wine that is not necessary always super cheap, but certainly affordable. As far as possible, we will aim to cover what German (and also Austrian) wine is available, but obviously the choice of German supermarket wine in the UK is limited - so expect a random selection of the good, bad and ugly.

F. W. Langguth Erben Kabinett, 2009

Looking back over the wines I have enjoyed over the past few months it was an impressive range of delightfulness and excellent quality. Despite having spent quite a bit on wine I think it was worth every penny, but I was also reminded not to forget to explore what is available on the cheaper end of the market. So during a recent visit to Sainsburys I grabbed a random bottle of relatively inexpensive German wine to set my experiences in perspective.

Mind you, there are people out there for whom £4.99 for a bottle of wine is anything but cheap. However, if you consider that around half of the price goes to the government (tax, excise duty etc.) and quite a bit to the retailer (and that does not even take into account the cost of shipping etc.) then you realise that such a wine has to be produced very cheaply indeed to be commercially viable. Too cheaply?

A pain to drink: A review of Le Froglet wine-in-the-glass from Marks & Spencer

Summer is over. So what's the point of reviewing wine sold in strange single-serve glasses suited for a picnic? For starters because they are not. The Le Froglet glasses are as misplaced at an August picnic as they would be near my November sofa. 'Obviously, the Wine Rambler will have to say so,' you might think, 'after all how could a wine snob like wine sold in plastic glasses?' Surprisingly, it is not the concept that puts me off. It is the execution.

Some time ago the entrepreneurs of the BBC's Dragons' Den dismissed the idea of investing money in wine sold in single-serve plastic glasses with tear-off lids. As it happened, I had actually watched the episode and found myself disagreeing with the dragons as I could imagine people wanting to use the glasses for outdoor events. Others apparently agreed and from what I hear the Le Froglet glasses do sell quite well now. So when I saw them at Marks & Spencer I had to buy the trio: white, red and rosé.

Black Tower, Pinot Grigio, 2008

Over the years, we have tasted a wide sample of German wines (though still so much more to explore!). However, my German wine experience is very different from that of most people here in the UK or across the globe. While we mostly drink wine from smaller, family owned vineyards, the UK especially downs the likes of Liebfraumilch by the gallon. So it was high time to get in touch with my inner mainstream drinker and get one of those iconic Black Tower bottles you can see in most British supermarkets.

Black Tower claims to be Germany's most widely exported wine brand, in fact, it may very well be Germany's best selling wine globally - it certainly is in the UK. Reh-Kendermann, who own Black Tower, spent a lot on the brand, particularly researching the design.

Taste the difference, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, 2009

In my quest to find interesting German and Austrian wines in UK supermarkets, I recently came across an excellent Austrian Grüner Veltliner, sold in Sainsbury's 'taste the difference' range. I love Grüner, especially with food, and this wine had the added benefit of being made by a well known Austrian winemaker, Markus Huber. When I saw that the 2009 vintage hit the shelves, I had to grab a bottle to see if it would be as good as the 2008.

Taste the difference, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, 2008

After several not overly successful ventures into UK supermarket wine I have let my investigation into what is available on the mass market slip. The other day though in Sainsburys I came past an Austrian wine that looked really interesting. And so I grabbed a bottle and was rewarded with one of the best wines I have ever bought from a supermarket. If you are bored by cheap Australian or Italian wines and look for a good refreshing white then look no further and go for Austria this summer.

Markus Huber's Veltliner, Sainsbury

German wine with Denise and Douglas: from Sekt and St. Laurent to Pinot Noir and aged Riesling

Sometimes, a wine tasting among friends turns into an unexpected wine and food orgy. Of course, this could never happen to a moderate and austere German like me, not even with Denise, the Winesleuth, and Douglas, of Intoxicating Prose fame, coming to visit. Denise had been given a couple of German wines by a trade representative, and I had suggested to top that up with a few more wines to set things into perspective. Nothing heavy, just a light evening with a bit of wine and food fun among friends.

Chapel Down, English Rose, 2008

When the Wine Rambler committee assembles in Munich, we often send two evenly matched wines into a blind tasting battle. Last weekend was no exception and two formidable contestants were preparing themselves for the main event. To get us in the right mood for this epic battle, a good supporting act was needed. So I brought along a mystery wine. It was pretty obvious that the properly wrapped wine was a rosé, but little did my co-ramblers know that it was from the County of Kent. However, I too was in for a surprise - little did I know that this support-act blind tasting would turn into a triumph for English wine (to be followed by a defeat for German winemaking, but that is another story).

Wine News: Wine to stop Muslim radicals, naked vintners, Majestic up, Australia down, Sarah Palin to ruin wine conference

It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.

I don't know how this always happens, but again we have a few miscellanies on the wide and, potentially, attractive topic of 'women and wine'. 'Potentially attractive' would perhaps be a good way of referring to something I came across the other day on the website of the Austrian Kronen Zeitung. Every so often you will find men and women stripping in front of a camera, to produce a calendar that supports some good cause (fight against cancer, making money etc.). Recently, the Austrians got a dozen women (almost) naked to support the Austrian wine industry. Personally, I think Austrian wine is good enough not to need that kind of support, but the organiser feels that the calendar will support the marketing of Austria's good wine in a 'modern and personable way'. 'Who', she say, 'would be better suited for this than our own vintner offspring?' So they put twelve (almost, I hasten to add again) naked daughters of vintners in wine related surroundings (vineyards, cellars etc.), decorate them with stockings and all the like and think that this will help to improve the image of Austrian wine.

torsten Sunday, 07/02/2010

Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey Gold

It has been a while since I had my last English wine; so far my exploration of local produce has had mixed results, but then I have never systematically looked into English wine. Denbies is an estate that is hard to overlook though, seeing as they are the largest largest single estate vineyard in the UK. Located near Dorking in Surrey, the winery makes a lot of the fact that the North Downs have the same soil-chalk structure as the Champagne. The Surrey Gold, however, that we opened yesterday, is not a sparkling, but rather a "deliciously fragrant off dry wine [that] is rich in fruit and floral aromas with subtle hints of spice and a crisp finish", as the label informs us. It also tells us that the wine is a blend of Müller-Thurgau, Bacchus and Ortega; what it does not mention is the vintage.

The Hedonist, Shiraz, 2006

Do you know the German word 'marmeladig'? I have looked into several dictionaries, but no translation could be found. However, you will need to understand it to understand this wine, even though this Shiraz (or Syrah - two names, but same grape) is Australian and not German at all. It also is a wine that the Wine Rambler reviews as part of our venture into UK supermarket wines, even though a £9.99 wine from Waitrose is not quite what you would expect under this label.