As the autumn nights get colder and darker, we find ourselves inclined to stay in the comfort of our own homes rather than brave the elements outside. Whether you’re inviting friends round for dinner or just having a cosy night in, when you head to buy a bottle of wine, the choice can be overwhelming. You might have decided between red or white, but do you want a Malbec or a Merlot, and is the bottle you’ve picked better with food or on its own?
We’ve picked six of our favourites for this time of year, as well as some advice on how to pair them, giving you one less decision to make. We're also giving you the chance to win a case of wine and four tickets to O'Brien's Winter Wine Festival, read on to find out how to enter.
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This blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Shiraz produces a rich red wine, with notes of ripe, dark fruit. The grapes come from vines in the Barossa region, which are on average half a century old, giving grapes of particular concentration and flavour which are picked by hand. The wine is aged in French Oak barrels for 12 months, lending it a discernible flavour. Its richness means it’s perfect to serve with hearty food like beef and tomato-based pasta dishes.
An Albariño produced in Rias Baixas, this wine comes from one of the highest-regarded estates in the region. It is aged for just four months, making it very fresh, and the grape quality is ensured through the fact that the winery produces relatively modest yields, with some of the oldest vines in the area, all planted in slate and gravel. Perfect for those who like Sauvignon Blanc but want to try something different, this wine is dry with zesty and fruity aromas. Its flavour is almost tropical, yet remains crisp and refreshing, meaning it can be enjoyed without food, or pairs well with seafood and other light dishes.
A soft fruity red, this wine is great value for money, and has the added advantage of being Vegetarian and Vegan friendly – perfect if you’re entertaining a crowd with mixed dietary requirements. It has aromas of raspberry and strawberry, and is smooth with notes of chocolate. It works well with roast duck, rich fish dishes like salmon or Asian cuisine.
An intense, smooth and elegant red wine with a hint of spice, this Nerello Mascalese comes from the Cusumano vineyards located 1,200m up the slopes of an active volcano. It is aged for 6 months in oak barrels, and also suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans. A velvety, balanced taste with a hint of freshness means it’s perfectly good to drink by itself, or also pairs well with cured meat, pâtés and cheese, as well as other meat dishes.
This wine is an unoaked Chardonnay, meaning that its apple and pear notes come through strongly, making it fresh and nicely acidic. The grapes come from vines around 40 years old, and it’s perfect for a party, as it pairs equally well with pre-dinner nibbles as it does with fish and poultry dishes. It’s also excellent value, and a great alternative to the more expensive Chablis: rated as a top-class Chardonnay without the hefty price-tag.
A rich, deeply complex red, this blend of six varieties produces an intense, fruity Chianti. Ripe black cherry and cassis fruit flavours are complemented by notes of black tea, smoky spice and leather. Already aged for 24 months in oak barrels, this is a wine that will only improve over the next 10 to 15 years, making it perfect to give as a gift, or keep for a special occasion. When you do decide to pop it open, serve it with game, roast meats or seasoned cheeses that can stand up to its bold flavour.
Still unsure about which wine is best for you? O’Brien’s Winter Wine Festival is the perfect opportunity to taste over 300 wines from the world’s best wine makers. In attendance at the event will be 60 wineries that supply the brand from all over the world, giving you a chance to discover the unique story behind each one, and more importantly, learn more about your own taste in wine. The next time you step into the shop, you’ll know exactly what to buy. The Festival will be in The Clayton Hotel, Cork on Thursday, November 15, and in The Printworks, Dublin Castle on Saturday and Sunday November 17 & 18.
Early Bird tickets are €20 each for a limited time only, with a minimum purchase of 2 tickets, normal tickets are €25. The ticket price includes all wine samples and a complimentary Tipperary Crystal wine glass to take home, with all proceeds in aid of the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation. Tickets are available in your local O’Brien’s store or by clicking here.
Featured image: Scott Warman