Red vino for barbecued burgers

barbecuingBarbecues and subtle, delicate wines do not go together. To compete with the rich smells and flavours of barbecued food you need a wine with dark fruit and chocolate notes, so forget about whites and rosés – think instead of robustly-flavoured reds.

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Co-op's hidden gems

Coop new logoUSP, or Unique Selling Point, is what every marketing department of every High Street retailer wants us to think of when their brand name comes to mind. With the Co-op it’s that there’s one of their food stores in every one of the UK’s postal areas. But with many of these stuck in out of the way shopping arcades and often too small to do the entire weekly shop in you may wonder what reason there is for seeking them out. Because their wine range is so fab. Think of them more of a brilliant off-licence with a convenience store stuck on the side.

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Wineboxes and bagnums

Asda bagnumIf you really like a certain wine, rather than buying it in single cork-stoppered bottles why not get in larger three or four bottle-sized amounts available in boxes?

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That smell of damp dog

dog asleepOpening a bottle of wine and then drinking its contents should be an enjoyable experience. But if instead of inviting fruity aromas wafting out of the bottle you're met with a disgusting smell of wet woollen blanket or damp dog then the wine is not fit to drink and is said to be 'corked'.

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Over 70s to drink tea and wine

tea in cupWine, dark chocolate and tea improve thinking and memory skills in men and women aged over 70. A study conducted by researchers from the universities of Oxford and Oslo found that a combination of wine, dark chocolate, and tea, consumed in moderate amounts, enhanced cognitive performance in the elderly. All three food stuffs contain relatively high levels of flavonoids.

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Lidl's Wine Cellar: new Summer Collection

Lidl logoLidl have added 40 new wines to their posh Wine Cellar range. All hail from from our European partners – with wines from France, Italy, Germany. Spain and Hungary – and all priced to appeal to the average-spending consumer with the majority of the new arrivals retailing at £5.49, £5.79 and £5.99. And all tasted appealing too – with the exception of one which get's the Paula warning klaxon.

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Don't put champagne on the label

Cava neck labelUnless champagne's marketing men disappear, their sparkling wine will always be the first choice for celebrations. But many countries get their wines to sparkle using the same techniques as those of champagne. But they can't say so on the label.

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Biodynamics: just pull up a few weeds

Biodynamic Wine bookNicolas Joly, of the French vineyard Coulée de Serrant, is one of the strongest advocates of the super-organic method of making wine known as biodynamics. In his book What Is Biodynamic Wine?: The Quality, the Taste, the Terroir (2007 paperback and still available from Amazon from £4.39) Joly explains that only by putting back into the soil everything nature produces, and I mean everything, can vines can grow and wine be made in harmony with the earth’s rhythms.

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Getting the cork out

corkscrewSeeing cork tear and crumble as you heave on the corkscrew is enough to bring an oath to the lips, the cork sometimes seems out to frustrate our primary goal - drinking the contents of the bottle. A horizontally stored bottle will keep a cork moist through contact with the wine – the cork's integrity is retained and it should remain whole when removed.

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Frequently asked questions about wine

red grapesWhen I'm giving a wine talk there will inevitably be questions from the audience keen to understand more about the wine they've just bought on their last visit to the supermarket, or some question that's been niggling away waiting to be answered from someone who knows. While I try my best to fit into this category I don't claim to know all the answers but here are a few of my answers to the questions I get asked most frequently – which usually starts with “Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?”.

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