Don’t give up wine in January – just drink better!


Dry January? What a silly notion.

Let’s raise a glass to Discerning January instead.

For pity’s sake, who apart from the irredeemably miserable, doesn’t need wine to comfort them through the long dreary days after the high jinks of festive season?

OK, we’ve over-indulged during Christmas and New Year and, yes, our livers probably need a bit of a rest.

But giving up entirely? Ludicrous.

Better that we simply cut down our drinking and upgrade the quality of wine we drink during what I like to dub Discerning January.

Let’s face it – much of the festive period will have been spent necking back filthy stuff at the homes of friends, family and neighbours with the palates of warthogs who’ve been gargling bleach spiked with broken glass.

So don’t you deserve better?

Halve what you drink but pay at least twice as much.

Let’s put this into persuasive context.

We spend an average of just over £5 on a bottle of wine in this country.

The maths aren’t pretty when you look at how much plonk you get for a fiver.

On a £5 bottle, 55% of the cost is taxes and 39% goes on stuff like the bottle, label and transport.

Just 6% of your dosh goes on the wine inside the bottle.

Upgrade to a bottle costing a tenner or more and you get far more bang for your bucks.

Spend £10 on a bottle of wine and 36% goes on taxes, 36% on transport etc and a far more impressive 28% on the wine itself.

Your festive-fraught liver will say thank you and your palate will begin to appreciate just how big a step up in quality there is between cheap wines and those that cost a a little more.

Some suggestions

Two that will be among the wines I’ll be savouring this month are a white and a red rioja.

Viña Real Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015 (RRP £11.45 Whole Foods, Whalley Wine Shop) is a gloriously balanced wine.

There are flavours of soft summer fruits such as peach and nectarine, a pleasing acidity and floral notes – but think an elegant spray of jasmine blossoms rather than a vulgar bunch of dayglo flowers from your local garage.

The barrel fermentation seems to round off the flavours, creating a creamy, mouth-filling texture.

Viña Real Crianza 2013 (RRP £11.65- Fortnum & Mason, D Byrne & Co, Cheers Wine Merchant, Hailsham Cellars, Hot Corks) is ripe and fruity, with hints of fruitcake and spices.

Birmingham wine merchant Chris Connolly is a staunch advocate of drinking less but drinking better during January.

His two recommendations are both South African.

Nymphomanie 2015 (around £14) is made by the La Vierge winery in the Western Cape and is beautifully structured blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec.

Expect vibrant berry favours, subtle spice, floral notes and a juiciness.

Chris goes pink with his next suggestion – Longridge’s The Emily Rose 2016 (just over £12).

It’s a bottle that Chris describes his his “most dangerous wine” because it’s so drinkable.

A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, it’s vibrant with exotic fruits and has a lingering finish.

Wine educator Laura Clay has two fabulous recommendations to get 2018 off to a great start.

Rustenberg RM Nicholson 2015 Stellenbosch is £9.99 from Majestic when you buy six wines, otherwise £13.49.

She said: “Even at the full price this is worth every penny. If you veer away from the cheapo South Africa brands, you get some serious wines at seriously good prices giving serious oomph and complexity.

“From one the country’s most famed wine estates, this is a Bordeaux-blend with a dollop of spicy Syrah making it a great winter red.”

Her other suggestion is Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño 2016 Rias Baixas which costs £15.99

It matches well with lighter dishes for those trying to cut back on calories after Christmas and is itself healthier than many wines – being lighter in alcohol at only 12/5%.

Phil Innes, of Loki Wines in Birmingham, has three recommendations to help wine-lovers through dreary January.

Tinpot Hut New Zealand Sauvignon 2016 picked up the platinum medal at the Decanter Awards as the best Kiwi sauvignon and costs £13.99.

Phil also recommends Feudi San Gregorio Albente Falangina 2015 (10.99), a great alternative to sauvignon and is from one of the top Campagnian producers,

He said: “It’s bright and fresh, but still dry and crisp and tipped to be the ultra-fashionable white of 2018.“

His third tip is a high-altitude Argentinian wine, Don David Tannat 2015, which he says provides a great break from malbec and Mendoza. It’s £12.99.

More information

To find out about Laura and the events she organises, go to

For more information about Connolly’s Wine and its range, go to

Go to to find out about Loki.

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