Dark days and wines

candleIt’s cold. And it gets dark before the day has properly begun. Which means we now have to turn the light on when admiring the colour of that pre-supper glass of red wine.

Shorter periods of daylight send a signal to our brain to reject the lighter hues of summer and seek out dark reds and browns of winter. So leave the light-green Sauvignon Blancs unopened and pick up a bottle of its red cousin Cabernet Sauvignon instead.

This blood-red coloured wine not only matches the autumn foliage but also the heartier foods we'll be eating once the weather gets cooler.

roast pheasantPies, pizzas and roast meats all match the blackberry smell and taste of Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This grape variety, though fruity, can be rather one dimensional so winemakers often blend in other grape varieties to add complexity.

Tastes of blackcurrants and aromas of Bovril all add complexity when Shiraz is added and Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon wines reach their zenith with South African wine producers. Extra aromas of damp leaves and flavours of burnt toast are made by the hot South African sunshine – the results are robust wines best enjoyed with a large chunk of meat.

For lighter flavours stick to Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blends. You’ll find this classic twinning in French Bordeaux reds. Expect less Bovril and more cherry and plum flavours.

PG Wine Tips

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

sausages & mashSpar La Catedral Spanish Rioja 2009
£5.99 Spar

Cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate flavours combine to give a superb accompaniment for sausage and mash.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Caliterra Estate Grown Merlot 2009
£6.24 Majestic (down from £7.49)

Yummy flavours of blackcurrants and coffee cake. Enjoy on its own or match with a large chunk of meat.

Italian Primitivo 2009
£7.99 Morrisons

Decant this wine into a jug to fully enjoy its flavours of sloe, blackberry and strawberry.

Co-op Cru Beaujolais Fleurie 2009
£8.99 Co-op

Better than your average Beaujolais with flavours of cherry, strawberry, juicy blackberry and strong tea. Enjoy with chicken in tomato sauce or battered haddock.

wine and corkTim Adams Australian The Fergus
£9.96 Tesco Wine by the Case

Five grape varieties and five flavours. Red grape varieties of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Cabernet Franc combine to give flavours of smooth blackcurrant, sweet cherry, chewy raisin, milk chocolate and liquorice. Moreish. Shame it only comes in small 75cl bottles.

De Grendel South African Cape of Good Hope Merlot
£10.99 Oddbins

Lots of ripe fruit flavours with blackberry and plum predominating.

This article has appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on Mature Times