Party wines: budget bottles that you’d drink yourself | Fiona Beckett on drinks

How many of you have taken a dodgy bottle to a party, possibly even one that someone brought to yours? Let’s face it, we’ve all done it, though hopefully the desire to drink something decent may encourage you to up your game.

If you’re hosting the party and providing the booze, your primary consideration, drinkability aside, is no doubt cost. I’m guessing most of you want to keep that under £10 a bottle, though that’s a bit of a struggle with fizz these days. I really like Aldi’s Specially Selected Cap Classique (13%), from South Africa, though £12.99 is pushing it a bit if you’re catering for larger numbers. The same store’s Specially Selected Pignoletto (11.5%, see today’s pick below) would be a more affordable choice, especially if you’re a prosecco fan.

For those with drier palates, cava is a better bet. Lidl’s Arestel Rosé (11.5%, also in today’s pick) is an extraordinary £5.29; I don’t know how they do it – and it’s better, to my mind, than the standard Arestel at the same price. If you want to serve champagne, Lidl’s Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut (£13.99, 12.5%) is decent, too, even though it recently went up by a quid. Even so, it’s better than the cheaper Champagne Veuve Delattre Brut (12%) at £11.99.

The wine you choose also depends on the food you’re serving, of course. Fizz is fine for party nibbles, but less so for buffet-style eating, and even that can vary in terms of its compatibility with wine. With cold food such as quiches and salads, you might want an easy-drinking white such as a sauvignon blanc or a rosé, while hot food such as lasagne or a casserole calls for a hearty red, and the 14.5% Domaine Bousquet Gaia Malbec in Waitrose’s current “Fine Wines at £10” offer is a cracker. If you’re up for spending as much as a tenner, I also like Mirabeau Pure Rosé 2020 (12.5%) and Broglia Gavi di Gavi 2020 (13.5%) from the same promotion, too. (If any of those take your fancy, however, it’s probably worth visiting a branch in person, rather than ordering online, because they’ll sell out fast.) Rosé also has the virtue of generally being lower in alcohol, which is no bad thing at a party.

I wish I could report that I’ve found a good alcohol-free option, too, but I struggle. If you’ve a sweet tooth, Aldi’s Zerozecco, which is not dissimilar to a moscato, might work, and at only £2.49, you can hardly complain about the price, but I wouldn’t drink it myself, even at someone else’s expense. Sorry.

Five crowdpleasing party wines

Pignoletto DOC spumante extra dry

Specially Selected Pignoletto Spumante £6.99 Aldi, 11.5%. One for prosecco fans. It has the same touch of sweetness, but a bit more character than most basic prosecco.

Arestel cava rose

Arestel Cava Rosé £5.29 Lidl, 11.5%. Drier than you’d expect from the girly pink colour.. Just a really nice bottle of sparkling rosé, especially at this price.

Porta 6 White 2020 13%

Porta 6 White 2020 £7.50 (or £6.50 on Clubcard this weekend) Tesco 13%. Fresh, aromatic, Portuguese white that’s a blend of local grape varieties with chardonnay and viognier. (There’s a red in the same line, too, but it’s a bit jammy.)

Co op irresistable Carmenere

Co-op Irresistible Carmenère 2020 £7, 14%. The label of this ripe, Chilean red certainly suggests a party vibe, but the contents are decent, too. Could handle a bit of spice.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Gaillac Rouge 2019

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Gaillac Rouge 2019 £6.75 (on offer), 13.5%. Fresh, quaffable, rustic French red for those who don’t like their reds too sweet.


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