Cantina Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero, Emilia-Romagna, Italy NV (£12.95, Great Western Wine) How to approach wine post-Christmas excess? Some of us give up for a month, but there are better times for abstinence than the dark days of January. I prefer the frisson of transgressive pleasure that comes with drinking styles that feel slightly inappropriate amid the austerity. Sparkling wines, for example, whether a decent, budget-friendly white fizz such as Aldi’s creamy Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura 2012 (£7.39), or, to go with the season’s meaty stews, Chiarli’s vivid, ripe black-cherry-filled sparkling Italian red, with its soft mousse and gentle tannic grip.
Bolfan Primus Orange Pinot Sivi, Zagorje, Croatia 2012 (£14, Marks & Spencer) My point, I suppose, is that New Year’s resolutions needn’t be joyless; the idea is to shake you out of a rut, not to purge all the fun from your life. When it comes to wine, my goal would be to get a little more adventurous, to break away from old favourites. I’d start with a wine like this, from Croatia, a country just starting to get a foothold in the UK, in a fashionable style known as “orange wine”, where a white wine grape – pinot grigio – is kept in contact with the skins and ferments slowly like a red, adding texture, colour and a delicious spiced orange, bittersweet character.
Dr Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany 2012 (£15.99, Waitrose) Still, if you want to cut back, a switch to low-alcohol wines is sensible, although the good intentions can lead you to a vinous hell. Many wines sold as “low alcohol” have been through a piece of kit known as a “spinning cone” that leaves a hole in the wine where the booze should be, a void that is usually disguised by a layer of unwelcome sugar. Better to go for a naturally light style such as the racy, dry Tesco Finest Vinho Verde 2013 (11.5% abv, £7.49), or Ernie Loosen’s filigree off-dry Mosel Riesling, which wraps a great deal of peachy flesh around its slim, elegant bones.
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