So, the builders have moved in and I have moved out . . . again!
Albeit this time with the hope that I’ll be moving back at some point — the contractor says seven months, so I’ve rounded it up to a neat year and have got my fingers crossed.
My wine collection is at an all-time low. Primarily because the knowledge that another move was imminent meant it was nonsensical to be buying new stuff and secondly, there is an irrefutable and very direct correlation between invoices received and wine consumed.
I have ditched the fancy cookbooks and have dug out the student favourites. [I imagine today’s students would laugh at my Grub on a Grant . . . a sad sign of the times]. I am on a budget — both culinary and vinous. Regular readers of this column will know that I am a strong advocate of the ‘drink less, drink better’ school of thinking and I am adhering to that philosophy, I promise but I am also hunting out bargains. And no, I don’t mean those misleading supermarket deals that sell over-priced wines for a so-called ‘bargain price’.
Nope, my searching revolves around identifying the regions and places that are offering good value, quality drinking and my hotly favoured hunting ground this week is Spain. I have written much about Spain before. Why not? It delivers value sparkling, sublime sweet and fortified wines and some truly world-class reds and whites. It’s also a hot bed of competitively priced, cheerful, easy-drinking wines. Perfect for those of us whose medium-term dining future includes chickpea curry, baked potatoes and rabbit (delightfully cheap) stew.
So, for any of you considering/planning or immersed in a building project of any scale, here are some of my top tips to see you through some of the traumas.
At £4.74 (www.waitrosewine.com), the Campo de Borja Gran Lopez Garnacha/ Tempranillo 2010 is a great-fun, succulent, softly-fruited summer berry red that scores highly when it comes to a stress-busting glass of wine.
Also from Waitrose Wine and again for just £4.74 is the El Prado Tempranillo Rosé that is as friendly and approachable as you might expect. Think refreshingly dry redcurrant and strawberry fruits. There are those that sniff at the thought of drinking a glass of the pink stuff in the autumn and winter months, but those that do are missing out. Majestic (www.majestic.co.uk) are running an offer that means a 20 per cent discount when you buy two bottles of Spanish wines that retail normally between £5 and £25. I like the bone-dry, La Poda Verdejo/Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£4.99 is the offer price when you buy two bottles). It’s a sprightly dry white with pear skin and gooseberry flavours.
It is slightly pricier, but I think the really cosy, heart-warming red that is the Balcon de la Villa Toro 2009 (£6.99 www.marksandspencer.com) is worth a pound or so extra. It’s a full-bodied, richly-textured red and one that will hide the slight disappointment of eating the warm-ups of a casserole you made not just one but two nights ago!