We like wine. We don’t have any vintage gold jiggers, raw Japanese denim aprons with birds on, or tattoos of bitters bottles on our necks, so we realize you might not give a shit. We also understand you’re probs suuuper busy doing big boy bar stuff, like twirling your barspoons, trying to copy that spinny thing Luca Cinalli does with his tins, and liberally using your work’s backbar to perfect your Bacardi Legacy entry. But we would like a minute of your time.
Wine is out of control, there’s a war going on, and the good guys are losing. Wine lists are being overrun with the esoteric, the ridiculous, the expensive, and crucially, the shit. We want to stop the trend of 65 quid Cypriot biodynamic malolactically fermented orange wines in clay pots pushing out the savvy B’s, the chardos and the cab savs we know and love.
Here’s our round up of the best wines to drink in 2018, along with the best occasions to drink them. New Year, new you, drink shit get banged, don’t let the terroirists win.
Best Session Wine
Session wine is traditionally cheap, low ABV and ALWAYS Australian. Best served whilst saying something vaguely racist, standing by a ‘barbie’ in denim cutoffs with a rake handy just in case any dropbears attack, but you get the idea.
Firstly, session wine is pretty much always white or rosé. At a push you could throw a Beaujolais in there but that’s risky. You’re aiming for ‘refreshing so you don’t want to be pounding something that’s 14%, tastes like blackberry jam and makes your teeth look like you’ve got gum disease. It’s not cute. Also, at some point you will 100% spill some on yourself, or a carpet, or someone’s kid – if it’s red, people will freak out way more than is necessary, they’ll chuck salt and soda water everywhere, while pretending it’s no big deal. Total buzzkill. Don’t bother.
Pint glasses are ok. Ice is encouraged. A Sprite top is absolutely fine if the sun’s not quite over the yardarm. This isn’t the time to pretend you have standards or be judgy so shhh. If you need a corkscrew, you’re doing it all wrong. Box wine is a great shout here – always buy more than you think you need because no one needs the shambolic, indecisive cornershop run after four pints of wine on an empty stomach.
Grapes; don’t overthink this one. It’s Chardy, it’s Savvy b, a squeeze of Semillon is a good thing, Riesling is right on point. Be careful of the Pinot Greezy. Generally, avoid anything on the label that goes too big on the citrus fruits. That way only heartburn lies. Pro tip: have a bottle of Pepto Bismol kicking about just in case.
1. Co-op Explorers Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This one is bang on the money. Silver medal from somewhere, under £7 and all the tropical fruit you can shake a stick at.
2.Tesco Finest Provence Rosé. This is one if you’re trying to impress. The ‘Finest’ sticker on the label gets you plenty of points, allied to the bottle shape and the pale pink colour which everyone knows is a nailed on sign of quality. You’re KILLING it here. £8.
3. Ernest Wein Alsace Riesling. Lidl. People are a bit weird about Riesling because they’re scared of residual sugar and ‘sweet’ wine has long being considered something that’s a bit naf. A bit white stilettos. Those people are wrong, obviously. Serve it as cold as possible.
And The Winner Is: Clearsprings Sauvignon Blanc. BIB, £16. Sainsburys. Goonbag Aussie savvy b. It’s a bloody ripper mate and at just over a fiver per 750ml, you literally can’t go wrong. 10/10. WoT approved.
Best Wine for a West London House Party
Picture the scene: It’s Notting Hill Carnival, there’s a house party so you show up to a townhouse on Portobello Road where someone’s parents have gone away, leaving their daughter in charge. She’s invited a couple of mates but it’s got a bit out of hand and all of a sudden there’s 300 “urban” people there smoking weed and listening to grime. She’s already mentally rehearsing the phone call to her dad, whilst running around putting ashtrays everywhere. In these situations, there’s always one rugger bugger type who has taken it upon himself to be the tough guy, so you gotta get past him. You’re looking for a wine that doesn’t mark you out as a total pleb but is also sessionable and shareable. (So that obviously means cheap).
Try to stick to Old World. They don’t really understand anything else. Basically, you want a classy European red that looks like you’re gonna sip it in the garden whilst talking about skiing holidays. Sparkling is good; something that looks like Champagne, but crucially, isn’t. Trampagne essentially. That says “I’m here to have a good time”, not “I’m here to sell baking powder to your mates, try it on with your drunken seventeen year old sister and scratch the antiques”. Be careful of the antiques. They take that stuff more seriously than family. Some of it might actually contain cremated family.
Runners Up: 1. Innocent Bystander Moscato. £6.99 Wholefoods. If you’re feeling confident, then this is an option. It’s a super easy pink Aussie Moscato. It’s not old world, however it looks modern. It’s got a bottle cap on it which makes it look like one of those fancy natural wines that cost loads of money when actually it’s 7 quid and tastes like vaguely alcoholic Turkish Delight. It also has the added advantage that all girls love Drake and Drake loves Moscato. So you’re winning here.
2. La Patrie Cotes de Bordeaux Merlot. £5.50, Sainsburys. Posho’s only really understand “Claret”. So the word “Bordeaux” on the menu will set their minds at ease. It’s also £5.50 but looks like it’s at least £15. If you rough up the label a bit they might even let you use an actual wine glass. Has a cork which is a definite signifier of quality.
3. Hendricks Gin. £28, available fucking everywhere. Listen, we know it’s not wine, but do you want to get in this house party or not? This lot LOVE gin and of all the gins, Hendricks is their favourite. Failing that, Sipsmith or Chase will do. Just something with an artisan looking label, ideally some wax around the top and a really annoying back story. Bring a cucumber for extra points.
And The Winner Is: Sainsburys Taste the Difference Crémant de Loire. £11. Looks like Champagne, tastes pretty much like champagne, is European and just saying the word Crémant makes you sound like you know whats up. Balling on a budget. 10/10.
Best Aromatised Wine
What is aromatised wine? Bartenders might imagine that it is some delicate and delicious infusion of herbs and spices, probably from France or Italy, made by some country looking dude who’s actually a multi-millionaire, sold in an oldy-worldy looking bottle and used to stir sparingly into your “herbaceous” gross spicy brown drinks. Yuck. WoT would suggest instead directing your gaze to the bottom shelf of your supermarket wine aisle. No, not there, further down still. There you go. These are the bottles that adorn the dining tables of middle England on “Come Dine With Me”, the type that are decanted into empty Ribena bottles and snuck past the doorman at Chicago Rock Cafe. Equal parts delicious and type two diabetes.
Runners Up: 1. Buckfast – This is OG. Nothing packs the same punch. It’s penchant for making people fight-y can divide opinion.
2. Echo Falls White Peach and Mango Fruit Fusion – An explosion of fruit flavour. Important to drink at 4c or lower otherwise you will realise that your teeth are about to fall out.
3. Black Tower “B Fruitful” Passionfruit – People slept on Black Tower. This wine is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Excellent with Chinese pork balls.
And The Winner Is: Blossom Hill “Fruit Bloom” Summer Fruits – The real winner here is the touch of “light bubbles” like a strawberry that’s been left in the back of fridge for weeks and has gone a bit fizzy.
Top Shelf Award: Wines to Impress Nigella/You Girlfriend’s Dad
This is absolutely NOT the place for wine LOLs. This is the business end of mass produced wine. It can be an absolute minefield finding something that looks legit (bear in mind it’s the looks here that count. Nigella, or bae’s dad will almost certainly look it over, say thank you and then put it away and give you some of their own stuff) Here are the rules for your £10+ snazzy juice.
It absolutely 100% MUST have a security tag on it (perhaps behind perspex if it’s a bad area) this is non-negotiable. It should probably have one of the following qualifiers: Classico, Reserva, Winemaker’s Select or, at a push “Finest”. Lastly, it should be either the best version of something you know (Jacob’s Creek RESERVE, Penfold’s Koonunga Hill) or something with a venerable Old World name that you’ve heard your dad talking about (Gigondas, Chablis).
Runners Up: 1. Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2009 – this probably wouldn’t past muster with Nigella but it tastes expensive (i.e Oaky AF)
2. Chateau Vieux Manoir 2016 Bordeaux – This looks the part. OK, it tastes like eating pencil shavings and green peppers from a pizza hut salad buffet but it says BORDEAUX on the label FFS.
3. McGuigan “The Brothers” Chardonnay – Another nifty trick this. Add some kind of family connection like the vineyard that you named after your daughter (£2 extra straight away)
And The Winner Is: The Co-op Marc Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2014
This literally ticks every box. Old looking label, bit of age (2014) a name that everyone’s heard of and knows is pricey. If you want to dig a bit deeper Marc Perrin is actually a well known and revered winemaker. This is a solid gold choice. x
The Hamish Smith Award Awarded for the Best Award Ceremony Wine (Awarded by Hamish Smith)
Awards season is here! WoT knows that you bartenders love nothing more than waxing your moustaches, putting on your finest shiny jackets, ker-azzzzy pocketsquares and skinny jeans, drinking some LOL ironic shots du jour (OMG haha lets haha lets do shots of Midori guys hahaha so random haha), and doing your best fake “really happy for you” face, while all the awards are neatly shared between Dandelyan and Swift.
But before that is the “fancy” sit down dinner – You’re sitting with some posh lad from Diageo with a double barreled name, those two Mancs you met on that Gin Mare trip, and this year you really think you’re in with a shot at “Has Stayed At a Bar Job For 6 Months Without Becoming An Esoteric Small Batch Gin Ambassador” Award. But what wine should you drink while you’re discussing 19 layer Pousse Cafes and pretending to not be star struck because Jake Burger remembered your name?
This has to be cheap AF, preferably bog standard new world blends from a sponsor brand. To be honest it doesn’t matter, you’re only going to pour Monkey Shoulder in it from the hipflask every single one of you has on you. You have though. Be honest.
Runners Up: 1. Yellowtail Zingy Zesty White. Aussie white. Acidity levels that would melt Ph paper. Goes perfect with awkward flirting with that new girl from Callooh before trying to look nonchalant when you find out she’s dating that dude from the Savoy. “Oh yeah yeah cool nice”.
2. Barefoot Sweet Red. The Ronseal of wines. This is a bit off the wall because it is supposed to be served chilled, but it’s a moot point, as the caterers won’t pay attention. Basically tastes like strawberry Monin. Perfect served with shitloads of enthusiastic insta selfies with a bored looking Dave Wondrich.
3. If you must go for an actual grape, Pinot Grigio, aka “I used to work in a bar, i’d like to speak to the manager” fuel is the one, and Gallo’s cali banger is our pick. Perfect accompaniment to the 359th conversation about how all awards ceremonies are rigged and bullshit with the other people that desperately want an award.
And The Winner Is: Dandelyan. Or Swift. Course it is.