Best wines in life are nearly free!

Take a slice of ciabatta.

By An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 6:00 am
An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug

Spread a small drop of olive oil on top and a few knobs of butter. Grate a little garlic onto the bread first and then lots of mature cheddar cheese. Finish off with a dusting of dried oregano, a generous pinch of pepper and dot it all around with fresh sprigs of rosemary.

Bung it into the oven for a good 12 minutes or so at 200C. You want this bad boy to be golden brown, crunchy and crispy but not burnt. And there you have it, the King Of Snacks.

At our lovely home, Rose Cottage, that’s the kind of thing my beloved wife, the redoubtable Madame G., and I like to feast upon in the evenings.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

I know. You thought it was all smoked salmon and caviar round our way.

Worse still, we don’t always wash it down with fancy claret or champagne. It’s more likely to be a cup of jasmine tea or a glass of inexpensive red or white.

You see, contrary to popular belief, I don’t subsist solely upon a diet of gourmet food and vintage wines.

I actually think those things are best kept for special occasions. That way, they’re special, see? I’m a man of simple pleasures. And I’m also acutely aware that although I personally have no problem affording the best stuff even in the current cost of living crisis, the rest of you may not.

So today, I’m going to focus on some very straightforward, reasonably priced but highly enjoyable vino. Yes, this one’s for all you little people!

I lie, tipplers. I’m as skint as you are. Needs must.

Anyway, since I can’t actually afford a fancy claret right now, instead of Bordeaux I’m going to Chile for my Pinot Noir. And rather than visiting an exclusive wine merchant, I’m just going to buy it in Tesco for £3.99. Almost nothing these days.

I won’t lie twice in the same column. It’s not the best Pinot I’ve ever tasted but the smooth, tangy and exuberantly juicy 2021 Lateral Pinot Noir is a perfectly pleasant and palatable drop with plenty of juicy red berry and cherry flavours which will go wonderfully well with either pork or poultry. Or, better still, the King of Snacks.

In the heatwave last year I made a discovery which called into question my “vocation”.

In very sunny weather, I only wanted to drink very cheap white wine. Shameful though it is to admit, I wouldn’t have thanked you for a magnificent Sancerre or a delightfully complex Riesling back then.

No, I wanted something as simple as myself. I didn’t want to be swirling it around my mouth trying to detect scents of honeysuckle or backnotes of butterscotch. i just wanted to quench my thirst.

If we have a sunny spell soon, then gimme gimme gimme today’s Wine of the Week, the fresh, fragrant and gloriously refreshing 2021 Dino Pinot Grigio (£5.50, Tesco). This unoaked Italian white is brimful of juicy peach and sharper lime flavours alongside grassy and herbaceous aromatics.

One for a warm chicken and coriander salad with rocket, sundried tomatoes and black olives. Or, failing that, the King of Snacks.

There will be other weeks for glorious wines. Next week we’re entertaining a very sophisticated and beloved relative who’s flying over to see us from that there London.

Expect to read about plenty of Fancy Dan bottles then. For now, let’s raise an affordable glass to simple pleasures like the King of Snacks. Till next week, tipplers, sante!