Growing up SPAR was the preserve of the corner shop: purveyor of sweets and treats when I was a teen, seller of late night Super Noodles when I was at Uni and the ideal place to stop in a pick up a bottle of spirits when heading out to a party whilst I was young, single and living it large in the City.
I did not know that SPAR were also wine connoisseurs, experts, aficionados, indeed Spar is home to Award Winning Wines. They showed me the error of my ways by dispatching a trio of wines for me to try out. They are good like that.
ROSE – SPAR South African Rosé, £4.50
“A light, refreshing wine with crisp acidity and ripe summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and red cherries. This wine is off-dry and easy drinking with soft fruity flavours. Perfect as an aperitif or with lighter starters and salads.”
I started with the Rose, enjoying the light, fruitiness of my favourite summer tipple in the dying days of the summer. Rose, to be honest, is best drunk on it’s own, well-chilled, with a plate of nibbles and a good friend. I was also introduced one fun summer to the delights of adding a slug of Creme de Framboise (Raspberry Liqueur) to a glass of rose. Don’t try it if you are driving though. It has a potency that you cannot imagine. But I enjoyed it most curled up on the sofa by the first fire of the autumn, with a good book.
WHITE – Fern Hills Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, £7.99 (on offer 22/10 until 11/11 at £6.00)
“The powerful and aromatic flavours of this wine pair well with Asian-style seafood, Thai, grilled fish, and dishes with plenty of herbs. Best enjoyed with salads or, of course, as an aperitif.”
The New Zealand White was delicious, crisp and aromatic. It is the ideal aperitif, not needing to work with food, though it did go well with a Saturday night Thai curry. It is a good wine to take to friends, as Sauvignon Blanc is a popular white, and currently on offer at only £6 a bottle. But if you don’t have that option available, you could try adding a good glug to the pan you have just fried some pork chops in. Put the chops on the side, pour in the wine, and let it bubble for a few minutes before adding a generous splash of cream, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs from the garden. Pour over gnocchi and serve with the pork chops: the perfect mid-week meal made form the perfect mid-week beverage.
RED – Malbec, Pays d’Oc, France, £7.50
“This is a fruity, unoaked Malbec with vibrant blackberry and cherry flavours and lifted black pepper aromas. It is a perfect match with roast beef and winter stews.”
Red wines need working up to, so this was the last one I tried. A Malbec packed with fruity aromas, this was the ideal accompaniment to winter dishes like stews. I used half a bottle to cook a Brisket of Beef in the Slow Cooker one week. It added a great depth of flavour to the sauce I made from the cooking liquid and winter vegetables that had been in the pot. And it tasted even better in the glass alongside the warming dish on a cold evening.
*Disclosure: I was sent the wine pictured for the purposes of writing this review. All opinions and recipes are my own.