| 5.3°C Dublin

reds ban the blues

It's cold. it's dark. the weather is appalling. With the best intentions, some may have decided to forsake booze for the month of January to give their livers a much-needed break after the flurry of activity over the Christmas period. However, the meteorological conditions of the past couple of weeks have been so extreme that you'd be forgiven for wavering in your resolution to stay on the dry for the worst (and most likely, the coldest) month of the year.

Call it grasping at straws, but you could view a robust red as a form of central heating. But which grape or region should you turn to? My first choice is usually made from the Rhône pair Grenache and Syrah (Shiraz). They can appear together, alone or in blends in the Rhône or across southern France in appellations such as Minervois or Fitou. Grenache also pops up in Spain labelled as Garnacha, and there's some fantastic value to be found in the Campo de Borja region.

Italy has plenty of bargain buys in the south, with Sicily in particular leading the way with grapes like Nero d'Avola. Portuguese reds, with their edgy tannins and spicy character, hit the right note, and for some reason Malbec from Argentina seems to deliver more of the right flavours than cheap Merlot from Chile.

Price wars between the supermarkets mean that there are more bargains than ever, and, with drinkable wine at under €7 a bottle, maybe wine is a luxury you can afford.


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