Holy Thursday Batman!… It’s Good Friday tomorrow which means we’ll be pretending we’re good God-fearing people and we’ll eat no meat (or something). Well, at last spring is here and the clocks are about to leap forward. It seems like only 3 months ago it was Christmas…. Oh.
The only issue for me with an early Easter is that there’s less time to eat mini eggs. I like to have at least another month of egg nibbling pleasure. There is something wonderful about egg shaped chocolate. But on Good Friday, fish is the dish of the day and I’ve got some super white wines to go with it. Now, it might sound a bit alien to all my friends in the UK but here in the Republic of Ireland where Mr O’Shea and I will be spending the Easter hols, we cannot buy alcohol on Good Friday. I know! It gets me every time! 10 years ago when I spent my first of many Easters here I thought Alan was having a laugh as we trundled along to the off license on Holy Thursday to stock up. Thank goodness we found some Cork Gin and a few easy drinking whites!… Which is where this piece is going. If fish is on the menu, what to choose?
I keep going on about how much I love oaked Chardonnay and my previous posts are littered with empty bottles of the stuff so I’ve decided to stay away for fear of sounding like a stuck record. I’ve also got to step away from Chablis! Although Chablis a favourite of mine there are other wines that I want to shout about. There are however two rather fine examples in the form of Asda’s Extra Special Chablis which is reduced to £9 from £11 until 31st March and Les Armes Chablis, exclusive to Waitrose, currently £11.59 (with 25% off the usual price of £15.49)
Doh! I’ve done it again. Oh well. So if you fancy non-Chardonnay based sip in the spring sunshine or with your fish dinner – Keep it fun! With this in mind, you can’t go wrong with a drop of Torres Viña Sol, that consistently good example of easy drinking Spanish holiday wine! Yes, you can find it for about 3 Euro when on holiday in Spain but in the UK, it’s a little more expensive… however not too much. Currently the 2015 vintage is a bargainous £5 in Asda until 21st April so get some in for the potential sunshine ahead! Viña Sol is available in other supermarkets where it is currently a little more expensive. And while your in Asda, I have to remind you that the Louvel Fontaine Champagne which is noirmally £24.50 is currently down to £10. Nothing beats a drop of fizz with fish and chips on Good Friday!
Another fun drop from Spain is Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Rioja Blanco 2014. People often get confused by white Rioja, not least because they imagine Rioja is only ever red! That’s not true. Rioja Blanco can be oaked and rich but this version is bright and crisp and a lot more easy drinking. It’s also currently a snip at £6 until 5th April instead of it’s usual price tag of £8. If the sun’s out and shellfish are on the menu, there’s no finer wine. OK, it doesn’t have the sea breeze quality of something like Albariño but the vibrant citrus and tangy fruit here are really charming. Now promise me you won’t serve it too cold! The wine’s true character comes out after it’s been out of the fridge for at least 20 minutes or so. Also while you’re in store, look out for Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blanc Champagne. It’s currently £18 instead of £20 and is a great way to start Easter Celebrations.
Chile is somewhere that produces wines that I love to reach for now the days are getting sunnier. If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc I think you’re going to love its’ sibling grape Sauvignon Gris. A great example of it is the Santa Ema Sauvignon Gris 2014. This fresh and perky grape is grown in the cool Leyda Valley near the Pacific Ocean and has the delicate fragrance of fennel and fresh sea air. When you sip, you get a wonderfully rounded melon and gooseberry hit with a lemony finish. It’s really refreshing for daytime drinking and would go beautifully with grilled white fish and a zingy salad. Santa Ema is available in branches of Majestic Wine Warehouse at the ridiculously good price of £6.99, down from £8.99.
Another bright and elegantly cheerful number is Marks & Spencer’s La Tuilerie Pouilly Fumé. At £11 this crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley is a stunner with fish. You get a sense of minerality on the nose and when you sip, there’s gooseberries and a flinty nature that reflects the soil in which the grapes are grown. I think this wine would be a real treat with oily fish like mackerel, salmon or sea bream – and even better if the fish were to be accompanied by some sort of tangy rhubarb or gooseberry compote. Go on… try it! M&S currently have an exclusive 25% off when you buy two bottles or more online, so there’s no excuse not to try this fab little number.
If you are going all out with a really spicy fish curry this good Friday, Tesco have a real treat from the North-Eastern corner of France in their Finest Alsace Gewürztraminer – A mere snip at £7.50. Anything with more than a hint of Far Eastern spice compliments the fragrant longevity of this wine. I wouldn’t tend to sip it without food but with an unctuous bowl of Indian or Oriental goodness, the lychee based character of this wine is perfect.
And finally, Easter wouldn’t be Easter without Fiano. Yes, Fiano! This grape variety is officially no longer a dirty word! Gone are the days of those dreadful litre bottles of acidic water paler than the cheapest Pinot Grigio. These days our shores are being graced by much livelier, character driven wines from this popular Italian region. Over recent years, I’ve discovered that Fiano can be pleasing to the last drop. This is thanks in part to Waitrose where you can buy Cantina Gadoro Fiano, currently with 20% off. This beautiful bottle of wine is from the Southern Italian province of Benevento in Campania and is packed with sunshine. It’s also down from £7.49 to £5.99. I honestly can’t believe wine this good is this much of a bargain! In the glass, it’s instantly mineral, then the wine gives you really endearing stone fruit and herbs. It’s a bit like a fresh, ripe chilled peach (not the tinned variety thankfully)! It’s crisp and bone dry but with a hint of sweetness that craftily makes you want more. Honestly, you might think I’m going overboard on this one but it needs to be tasted to be believed. If you’re barbecuing white fish or serving Mediterranean style squid or octopus, sip a bit of this as you’re cooking and you’d better hope there’s some left to serve as you eat.
So, get out there, get sipping and have a very good Friday and I’ll be back for some reds for Easter Sunday roast in a bit! Loads of love to you all. Cheers!