/ Food & Drink

Wine not fit for purpose?

Tis’ the season to be merry… but is the wine you’re sipping there actually nice to drink? Which? Conversation community member Alfa explores why some red wines are just palatable, but not pleasurable.

Is it just me or does all reasonably priced red wine seem to taste the same these days, just about drinkable but not enjoyable.

Maybe I’m getting older and my taste has changed, but too often I find red wine unpleasantly sharp, grabbing the back of my throat and hard to swallow…and I know I’m not alone.

A fine whine

We seem to have a ritual:

Open the bottle… taste…let it breathe… taste again and then give bottle a good shake, let it breathe again… taste…open another bottle and repeat.

Supermarket shelves are filled with lots of brands and styles that we keep trying, but many of them end up being used for cooking or down the sink.

And if they don’t smell good they go back to the supermarket for a refund. But you can’t ask for a refund just because they’re not to your taste. I’m sure people too often put up with a bottle that is barely palatable instead of taking it back, but where is the line of wine that’s not fit for purpose?

It’s not that long ago that I realised a lot of wine was not bottled in the country of origin, but shipped here and different brands all bottled at the same place. Many years ago, I worked in a food factory where the same product was packed for several different brands. They wouldn’t do that with wine would they? But it sure does taste like it to me.

Finding a favourite

My favourite used to be a Spanish red wine, but when the vintage changed so did the wine and we ended up with six cases of wine that went down the sink. I wonder if it has anything to do with corks being replaced by metal screw tops?

Recently I had a lovely wine called ‘Fat Bastard Pinot Noir’ in a restaurant but it is only available mail order, and due to the bad experience with my old Spanish favourite I‘m now reluctant to order wine by the case.

These days I find that Mcguigan wines seem more drinkable than most, although their Shiraz and Merlot taste the same to me. But I would like better.

Where’s the nice everyday (well not quite every day) drinkable red wine or even that something special to enjoy at Christmas time?

So, does anyone have a suggestion for a smooth, flavoursome red wine to go with Christmas dinner?

This is a guest post by Alfa, a regular community member on Which? Conversation. All opinions are Alfa’s own, not necessarily those of Which? We chose Alfa’s idea from the ‘Your ideas’ section on the website, make sure you share your ideas too.


No, no suggestions which will be any use…..I just hope the wine you enjoyed last week tastes the same when you buy it this week.
But try this! I hate cold red wine. And I prefer less alcohol than today’s ‘big’ wines. But to get wine to room temp can be time consuming. I have tried microwaving but it worries me for the 45 seconds its in there.
So…..add a few drops of hot water to your glass and stir! Lower alcohol, warmed up beautifully, perfect.
(That must surely draw just a few adverse comments)


Mulled wine comes to mind for warmed red wine but I agree it does taste better when it is not cold.


Be patient.Leave until at room temperature


Why not store a bottle or two in the sideboard!


Google “How to fake a wine review by markov chains” if you want a laugh about this.

McGuigan Shiraz red label is one we like, but it is really a matter of personal taste. This particular McGuigan isn’t on sale in Tescos, but you can get a crate of six from Amazon at a reasonable price.


I like the coding for coming up with a wine review. 😄 There could be some truth in it considering descriptions don’t go seem to go with actual taste.

Mcguigan has been on sale in Sainsbury’s so we have a few of them at the moment.


Ditch the varietal wines from the well-known labels. Go to a small local supplier if you have one, rather than the big supermarkets. Go for wines which blend two or three grape varieties. My current best buy is a luscious red from Languedoc called Villa Symposia – opened two bottles of it after breakfast ready for
Christmas dinner. I get it from Booth’s supermarket (only oop north).


About every four months my wife and I make a day trip to Calais where we have a splendid lunch at one of two lovely restaurants we know. We then motor to Fretun (about 12 miles) to an establishment called Franglais where we load up about 150 bottles of red wine, Cote du Rhone and, surprisingly, Siglo Sac (a favorite Rioja).
The price per bottle is unbelievably low and the saving compared with buying wine of this quality in the UK covers the cost of the ferry, the petrol and the expensive lunch with still a margin. It does mean an early start and a 95 mile return drive to Dover but it is a lovely day out.


It is amazing how cheap wine is in Calais compared to here. We used to do the £20 day return trips occasionally but they don’t seem to do them any more which might have something to do with so many booze outlets in Calais closing down.

Do Franglais do wine tasting before you buy?