Archives: November, 2015

Rewards For Shopping Local At Scarlet Wines!

We are hosting a Christmas shopping event on Saturday 12th December in order to encourage people to shop locally this festive season.

Shoppers will be welcomed with mulled wine and samples of traditional Italian Panetone to enjoy whilst they browse the wine shelves and a selection of locally produced gifts including chocolate, honey and cheeses.

As well as a huge selection of wines from around the world, we stock a large number of Cornish beers, ciders, wines and spirits which make excellent presents or festive treats.

A special selection of discounted Christmas wine cases will be available to buy, and for all other purchases customers will receive 10% off if their bill comes in at over £100.

One lucky visitor will also be rewarded with a free case of six bottles as part of the Scarlet Wines Prize Draw – helping to make Christmas 2015 particularly merry.

The team will also be on hand to give advice about which wines to enjoy during the Christmas period.

It’s worth investing a little time and effort in deciding what to drink over the festive season – especially with your Christmas dinner. Whilst we love the classics for Christmas, we are always up for suggesting some more unusual wines to help you befuddle visiting relatives.

The Vineyard Table Café will be running a seasonal, festive menu to encourage shoppers to take the weight off their feet and relax in front of the wood burner.

The seasonal menu is full of winter warmers at the moment – hearty soups, roast meats and spicy stews, with flavours inspired by Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The shopping event will run 9am – 10pm on Saturday 12th December, and tables are available to book for dinner in the evening, when you can join in with our December Feast Night.

Christmas Cases

We have devised three special Christmas Wine Cases – brought together at a discounted rate for six bottles – showcasing Italian, French and Spanish classics. Take your pick!

Each case features some delicious bubbles, two reds and two whites, plus a bottle of decadent dessert wine. The wines are sold in presentation boxes and can be pre-ordered for collection or made up whilst you wait.

Italian Case (Normally £152, reduced to £135)

Bellavista Cuvvee Brut, Franciacorta, NV
Alpha Zeta Amarone, Veneto, 12
Fontodi Chianti Classico, Tuscany, 11
Vesevo, Greco di Tufo, Benventano, 14
Pieropan, Soave La Rocca, Soave Classico, 12
Cantine Leornardo, Vin Santo, Tuscany, 08


French Case (Normally £96.50, reduced to £85)

Cremant de Limoux, NV
Chateauneuf du Pape Closerie de Vaudieu, 12
Chateau Beynat, Cotes de Bordeaux, 12
Domaine des Ballandors, Quincy, 14
Pascal Pauget Macon Villages, Macon, 12
Chateau Dauphine Rondillon, Loupiac, 06


Spanish Case (Normally £59, reduced to £52) + Port

Babot Cava, Penedes, NV
Al Tesoro Verdejo, Castilla Y Leon, 14
Cien Malvasia, Toro, 13
Pedrera Monastrell, Jumilla, 14
Ontanon Ecologico Rioja, Rioja, 13
Grahams 6 Grapes Reserve Ruby, Porto, NV

Winter Wines and December Drinks

Christmas is coming and most of us will spend more on drinks in those few days than at any other time of the year. It is the season for big, warming, hearty drinks to share by the fireside and to warm you up after those wet and windy winter walks. And then, there’s the biggest choice of all, those special wines for Christmas Dinner. Here are some suggestions.

December is the time of year when a lot of Devon and Cornwall’s brewers offer special Christmas brews. These tend to be darker, deeper and inevitably a little stronger. For example Eve Valley Brewery will be offering their dark and lovely Winter Glow at 6%. Or, if you get the chance to be in Helston over the festive season, the infamous Christmas Special at the Blue Anchor is well worth a visit. Rich and spicy it almost needs a knife and fork, though at around 7.6% it is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

It may be an old fashioned drink but I think there is no better winter warmer than a Whisky Mac. Equal parts whisky and ginger wine – the warmth of the whisky works perfectly with the spiciness of the ginger. Of the better known varieties I’d go for Crabbies every time; but if you can find it, Lyme Bay Winery near Seaton make a lovely local version that would work perfectly. Just don’t use your best single malt to go with it.

Christmas Day is a day for splashing out on your wine, so I think it needs the classics. Reds from Bordeaux, Tuscany or Rioja, big barrel fermented chardonnays and, of course, classic sweet wines like Sauternes, Tokaji or Vin Santo. If you can afford it spend a little more, £10 to £20 a bottle will get you something really good, especially from your local wine shop.

You probably want something sparkling too and here I would urge caution. You will, no doubt, see mountains of “half price” Champagne in your local supermarket. But cheap Champagne often tastes just that, cheap. It can be all acid, with little flavour and little pleasure to be had. Personally I’d go for one of the local options. Camel Valley from Cornwall of course, the Brut is excellent but the Pink Pinot Noir is better. Also in Cornwall look out for Knightor, or in the far West, Polgoon. From Devon; Pebblebed, Sharpham, Eastcott and Yearlstone all make great local fizz.

This is, of course, also the perfect time of year for port. And what a minefield of different styles you will find; white, crusted, ruby, vintage, tawny, etc. Of these I would pick out two. Either a Reserve Ruby or a Late Bottled Vintage. Ruby is a simple young style but a Reserve is better quality. Vintage is the best possible quality of port but will be at least £30 a bottle. Late Bottled Vintage is a step towards this style for a lot less money. You can find either for somewhere around £18 – £24. One last point – when you open the bottle treat it like wine, it will last a few days not half a year.

A final piece of advice; forget the mulled wine. After all who actually likes it after the first few sips? As far as I can see it only exists to use up that bottle of something nasty left behind after a party. And that can’t be a good enough reason to drink it. Can it?

Merry Christmas and enjoy your wine!

Bottle Shape Clues

When you stand in front of a shelf packed with bottles of wine it initially looks like a bit of a jumble. Packaging of all colour, glass of all shapes, plain or colourful labels and different closures. But, look a bit deeper and pattern begins to emerge. There are, in fact, a few bottle shapes that are routinely used by wine makers (and marketeers) to give clues to the sort of wine they contain.

Let’s use one classic shape as an example; the flute. This tall, elegant, long necked bottle is usually green or brown rather than clear and wine in these bottles looks distinctly German. And for good reason, since much German white wine does indeed come in bottles of this shape. Wine from the French region of Alsace is also legally required to come in this bottle shape. All of that could be put down to tradition. But, what is more interesting is that winemakers in Chile, Australia and all over the place use this bottle shape when they are making a wine in a German or Alsace style.

So, the flute bottle shape has become a highly reliable clue that the wine it contains will be fruity, un-oaked, aromatic, possibly sweet and probably made from grapes like Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris.

This is a really useful idea and is a big help in decoding that pile of bottles you find on the shelf. Here then is a list of other shapes you will find and what they are likely to mean; a spotters guide to wine.

Bordeaux. After the flute this is perhaps the most recognisable with its high shoulders and parallel sides. So, the wine within is likely to be a blend of Bordeaux grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. As such it is likely to be medium bodied, strongly flavoured, fairly fresh and with quite a lot of chewy tannin. Perfect with hearty food, less good on it’s own. Good quality Chianti now also comes in these – perhaps because it shares some of these characteristics.

Burgundy. Wine in Burgundy is generally either white from Chardonnay or red from Pinot Noir. So, this round-shouldered bottle is a good indicator that a wine will be this style. Chardonnay is famously malleable so its flavours will range from citrus through to tropical, but in this shaped bottle it is also likely to see some oak. The red Pinot Noirs should have a generally light body and colour, bright fruit and a lovely aromatic freshness.

Rhone. These bottles are troublingly similar to the Burgundy bottle but are usually a little heavier and may have an embossed crest or text, with names like Chateauneuf, Gigondas, Lirac or good old Cotes du Rhone. Rhone wines we find in the UK are generally red and made from blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan. They are usually ripe, often spicy and often quite plump and soft. A good safe bet on many occasions.

Malbec. This macho, broad shouldered bottle is, perhaps, just emerging as a style, but increasingly Argentinian Malbec is to be found in these bottles. The bottle is a visual metaphor for this punchy, bold and food friendly style. You may also find Californian wine in this bottle shape, but again the wine is likely to be full bodied, full flavoured, ripe and rich. Let’s just hope it is not as tiring as the machismo it represents.

There are also a few wines that have their own highly specific bottle shapes, but that don’t represent a wider style. Provence has a unique, clear glass skittle shaped bottle, Picpoul de Pinet an embossed green flute shape. Barolo is similar to the Burgundy bottle but with a reverse curve in the neck. Muscadet has a bottle with distinct corners in the neck and is usually embossed.

A few final words of caution though. Since winemakers are a disparate, ungovernable, independent minded group if ever there was one, there will be many, many exceptions to these rules. Also, lots of places make styles that don’t fit these broad categories, all of Italy for example. Well, at least we tried.