What's your Wine Tribe?


Despite there being a vast amount of different grape varieties and wines out there, many of us naturally fall into a favourite wine tribe where we are quite happy to stay, enjoying the same safe favourites on a regular basis. Some of us however may prefer to wander into other groups from time to time or like to mix it up on a fairly regular basis.

So do you stay loyal to one group or are you an intrepid vinous explorer?!

The Sauvignon Queen or King

Clean, crisp, fresh and fruity this is your tried and tested 'go to' vino. You hate to think how many bottles of The Ned you have personally recycled this year but if you had shares in the winery, you'd be smiling. If it ain't Sauvignon you ain't interested and when it comes to Sauvignon, New Zealand is your country of choice. As I said, fruity...

If you can't stomach moving away from Sauvignon at all then there are alternatives if NZ is your normal purchase. South Africa and Chile make excellent Sauvignon Blanc and of course there is always France -- Sancerre, Pouilly -Fumé and Touraine for example, all in the Loire. Bordeaux makes delicious wines too often blended with Sémillon and some with a lick of oak. Also look out for Rueda in Spain.

If you want to branch out from Sauvignon (steady) then a great place to start would be the elderflower laden Bacchus grape found in many English wines and if you like that tight acidity found in Sauvignon then a dry Aussie Riesling would be a good change or a lime drenched Verdejo.

White Wine Mentalist

Maybe it's because it is just so damn easy to drink white wine like water but it does tend to get you in a bit of a pickle. The likely reason for white wine behaviour is the sheer volume drunk although there are higher levels of sulphites (a wine preservative) in white wines than red. People rarely complain of a dried fruit hangover/reaction/bad behaviour however as there are 4-10 times more sulphites in a bag of dried apricots or mango than a bottle of wine...

If you don't want to give up your white wine but want to stay more in control then move to lower alcohol wines. Try German Riesling, Muscadet or Portuguese Vinho Verde, all lower in alcohol. You could also drink more water (1-to-1) or try spritzers so that it enables you to drink more responsibly.

Sip and Sleep

You don't know what it is about wine but it makes you so damn sleepy. Mellow reds and soothing whites just make you want to curl up on the sofa with a book or a movie and then pootle off to bed. If you want to stay awake however and be social, I would recommend bubbles. Not a bubble bath but sparkling wine. The bubbles get the alcohol into your blood stream faster so work well as a nice little pick me up and fizz is usually relatively lower in alcohol (around 11% for Prosecco and 12% for Champagne with a super low 5% for the sweetly moreish Moscato d'Asti). Just the thought of treating yourself might keep those eyelids from closing for longer than usual.

The Explorer

Fiano, check. Grüner Veltliner, yes please. Funky wines from volcanic soils around Etna -- count me in. Orange wines, sure. Biodynamic -- only on a fruit day and 'natural' wines -- can't get enough of them. You know your wine trends, what is going on and want to sip and savour as many as you can. Your local independent wine merchant is on first name terms with you (you even got a hug when you got back from your recent travels) and you regularly go to wine tastings and enjoy pilgrimages to wine regions so you can discover small artisan producers and bring bottles back home to bore share with your friends.

The Label Junky

You love an icon wine and your hero is Robert Parker. Burgundy and Bordeaux get you in a bit of a tizz and you regularly buy wine en primeur. You do love drinking wine too but you really, really love collecting it and storing it in your cellar. Hobby, obsession, passion -- good wine shops are like good book shops, you want to caress the product, read the back label, take it home and put it on a shelf.

Smoothly does it

Mellooooooooooooooooooow, that's how you like your wines both white and red. Spicy, smooth and with subtle oak nuances you love lightly oaked Chardonnay and smooth, medium to full-bodied reds. Your whites are elegant though -- they aren't big fat oaky numbers but rather fresh with balanced acidity and French (spice; cinnamon and clove) rather than American (vanilla and coconut) oak and there is a delightful smoothness of structure from the malo that more rounded whites go through (MLF: malolactic fermentation -- when harsher apple acid gets converted by bacteria to softer lactic acid). Red Rioja is a fave too -- all that lovely American oak and dill notes and a juicy Malbec. If you like fruity, accessible wines with some structure but want to try something new then try Viognier for white and a Touriga Nacional from Portugal for a red.

The Bargain Hunter

Likely to only buy a wine when it is on promotion and not terribly keen on spending more than £7 on a bottle. You love a glass of wine and drink most nights but you scour the supermarket aisles for 'good deals' and tend to buy two sorts of wine 1) big brands where you know you like the wine and wait for it to go back on promotion again before buying it and 2) brands and wines you don't really recognize but will give a whirl as they are 'good value'. Consequently you are likely to drink a lot of Pinot Grigio and large volume, branded wines. A really good tip is to look out for supermarket own label wines too as a lot of care and attention goes into them by the wine teams. They are a very good place to start as the wines are not expensive, often have a couple of quid off and are varied, interesting and well made, often from large producers but from around the world.

The Bolder The Better

Flavour -- check. Massively high levels of alcohol -- check. Pokey tannins on the finish -- check. There are wines and then there are WINES. Big shouty wines that are butch and full of bravado and swagger. Whilst some people like their wines to be subtle and with moderate alcohol others, like you, prefer them chunky. You want to see those legs on the glass as you swirl it around and anything under 14.5% is just wimpy. Some of your favourite wines are big rich, oaky Chardonnays or alternatively a bold Zinfandel such as Ravenswood (whose slogan is No Wimpy Wines), a muscular Malbec or a strapping Shiraz. The bigger the better basically!

Red is Best

A bit of fizz now and again is one thing but rose and white wine -- no thank you. Maybe it's the acid. Or the fact it's cold. You just like red wine. Any red wine from light and delicate to big and bold but it has to be red. Perhaps because you are a White Wine Mentalist or perhaps because you like your wines The Bolder The Better but either way Red is Best. It's smooth, you like the tannins and grip, the warmth and general cosiness that red wine offers. It's also a bit cool to just drink red, no?

And Relax...

Arguably closely related to The Bargain Hunter this is you if a) once home in the evening after work b) the kid(s) are in bed c) it's limped past 6pm and is just about socially acceptable, you mark the end of the 'work' day and herald the start of some much needed 'me time' by pouring a glass of wine. You aren't really that bothered about what it is frankly, it's about the ceremony, the quietness, the fact you have left the office behind and you want to unwind (geddit) and take the edge off the day. You usually have 1-2 glasses of wine as you relax, cook dinner, eat it and then retire to the sofa. Anyone who is a fan of The Good Wife can't fail to notice that Alicia marches up to her fridge or to a bottle of red wine the second she gets through the door, often never even taking her coat off first. In. Glass. Pour. Drink. Relax.