From adding ice to picking the same wine EVERY time: Are YOU guilty of these classic wine sins?
Sponsored by M&S
Wine is one of life's luxuries, but many of us are unnecessarily intimidated when choosing it
A glass of wine might be one of life's little luxuries but for some of us choosing it can be a little intimidating too.
With so many different grapes and regions to choose from, it's sometimes hard to know where to start when standing in the wine aisle or looking at the wine list in a restaurant.
But with a bit of insider knowledge, pitfalls can be easily avoided and you can be sure you're making the right choice every single time. And luckily M&S, who have just been awarded the International Wine Challenge Supermarket of the Year, have the perfect wine for you - no matter what your taste or budget.
So are you guilty or not guilty of some of the most common wine sins?
You think the older the vintage, the better the wine
It's often assumed that the older the wine, the better it is. But not all wines grow old gracefully
Coteaux Varois en Provence 2016 (£8.50) for a taste of the latest vintage
A vintage on the label, for example 2016, simply tells us that the grapes used to make that particular wine were picked in that year.
And it's often assumed that the older the wine, the better it is. But not all wines grow old gracefully. In fact, in many cases it's better to buy younger rather than older wines so that the fruit flavours are as fresh as possible.
This is especially true when it comes to most rosé wines. Try Coteaux Varois en Provence 2016 (£8.50) for a taste of the latest vintage. This one's also available now in a handy 25cl bottle, perfect for drinks al fresco.
You only put white wine with fish, red wine with meat
It's a good rule of thumb but some rules were made to be broken and this is definitely one of them.
It is sometimes a good idea to mix up the more traditional food and wine pairings
If you've got a more meaty fish on your plate, like salmon or tuna, try it with a lighter-bodied red such as Pinot Noir from Burgundy or New Zealand. And lighter meats can work brilliantly with a ripe, round white with lots of flavour.
Craft 3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 (£10) works really well with pork, while Dolphin Bay Rosé 2016 (£6.00) is good with anything spicy
Try Craft 3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 (£10) with roast pork and preserved lemons, a heavenly match. Also, don't forget rosé can be one of the food-friendliest wines of all, working with a rainbow of flavours.
If you've got anything lightly spicy on the table, try Dolphin Bay Rosé 2016 (£6.00) from South Africa.
You think fine wine is the preserve of posh wine shops
In the old days, yes - but not any more. Earlier this year M&S launched their own 'En-primeur' range from Bordeaux and you can now buy single bottles from the acclaimed 2014 vintage either in store or online.
Try Château Angludet 2014, (£27.00) and get a taste of fine wine for yourself
'We worked closely with two of our top fine wine partners Sichel and Mouiex, to carefully select a range of 32 wines from some of the most sought after Chateaux and a range of wines which normally would be only available from fine wine merchants and by the case,' says Emma Dawson, M&S Fine Wine Buyer. Try Château Angludet 2014, (£27.00) and get a taste of fine wine for yourself.'
You stick with what you know, every time
Just as we don't stick to the same food every time we eat, so it's good to mix it up when it comes to our wine choices too. More than anything, you can then be sure you're not missing out! Love Champagne? Try an English Sparkling Wine, made in the same way and often from classic Champagne grapes.
Just as we don't stick to the same food every time we eat, so it's good to mix it up when it comes to our wine choices too.
Ridgeview's Marksman Sparkling Brut NV (£26), is made exclusively for M&S, Zorzal Eggo Malbec 2015 (£16.00) is bursting with ripe, pure fruit flavours while Château Rambauds Malbec 2015 (£9.50) is made from the same grape but the result is quite different
Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2011 (£9.50) from Australia's Riverina region is a sweet dream
Try Ridgeview's Marksman Sparkling Brut NV (£26), made exclusively for M&S by one of England's best producers.
Variety is the spice of life so try the same grape variety but from different countries to see just how varied they can be.
Zorzal Eggo Malbec 2015 (£16.00) is from Argentina and bursting with ripe, pure fruit flavours. Château Rambauds Malbec 2015 (£9.50) is made from the same grape but from Bordeaux and the result is quite different, despite the shared grape DNA.
Suzanne Webb, Trading Manager, M&S Wine, explains: 'This year we've championed off-the-beaten-track grape varieties as well as making sure our classics are absolutely spot on… We offer wines from more countries than any other major retailer - 42 in all! And offer grape varieties that are rarely available elsewhere, such as Dafni and Maratheftiko from Greece, Pais from Chile and Sauvignon Gris from France, so there's always something new and exciting to discover in the wine aisle.'
And don't forget about the sweet stuff – dessert wines often offer incredible value for money. Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2011 (£9.50) from Australia's Riverina region is a sweet dream.
You add ice to your wine
Adding ice cubes will dilute the wine - try adding a frozen grape if it needs chilling
M&S wines impress at the IWC
Now in its 34th year, the The International Wine Challenge (IWC) is one of the most renowned competitions in the world. Every wine is blind tested at least three times by 10 different expert judges.
Competition veteran, Marks & Spencer, triumphed over its rivals to receive the IWC Supermarket of the Year Award.
The premium retailer was praised for its broad wine range, its impressive sales figures and its commitment to staff training. The retailer was also awarded the IWC Corporate Social Responsibility Award 2017 for the third year running.
OK, so you don't want to be adding ice cubes to a glass of your finest Claret but actually, drink a red wine any warmer than room temperature and it won't taste as good as it should.
Some red wines actually work brilliantly served slightly chilled, in which case stick the bottle in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill it down a bit. Try the stylish Caruso e Minini Perricone 2015 (£9.00) served chilled and the flavours really pop.
Now, if you've got a glass of rosé or a light, crisp white in front of you and it's not cold enough, drinking it too warm is a wine crime right there. It just won't refresh like it should. Stick a frozen grape in it to chill it down and it won't dilute the wine, or simply stick it in the freezer for ten minutes. Just remember to put a timer on so you don't forget about it!
You avoid Bag in Box wine
No more the preserve of poor wines, there are now some amazing bottle-less wines around.
Two favourites from the award-winning M&S range are now available in 1.5l wine pouches, Pheasant Gully Semillon/Chardonnay (£13) and Cotes du Rhone Villages (£17)
And it's not just boxes you should look out for. Wine pouches are a revelation, brilliant for camping, picnics and wine on the move.
Belinda Kleinig, M&S winemaker, says: 'Wine pouches have definitely gone up market: as packaging technology has improved, so too has wine quality, and customers are now happy to bring out their pouches at picnics and parties. The wine pouches are also friendlier to the environment – with 90% less packaging weight than the equivalent in bottle.'
They're recyclable and keep the wine inside fresher for longer once opened. Two favourites from the award-winning M&S range are now available in 1.5l wine pouches, Pheasant Gully Semillon/Chardonnay (£13) and Cotes du Rhone Villages (£17). You don't even need to remember the corkscrew!
You always pick the second cheapest bottle on the menu
The waiter's right by your side, waiting for you to pick a wine. You look at the list, searching for a name you recognize before panicking and falling back on the second cheapest.
But it's worth remembering that the best value is often found behind the not-so-big names.
So many of us pick the second cheapest bottle on the menu as a default option
Try something new: For something refreshingly different try Jordi Miro White Grenache 2015 (£9.50) while Pisano Cisplatino Tannat 2015, (£9.50) is a rich spicy red from Uruguay
So when you're in a restaurant or a wine aisle, don't be afraid to ask for advice on a name you might not have come across before.
M&S, recently awarded the International Wine Challenge Supermarket of the Year, has trained staff on hand to help wherever possible.
Suzanne Webb says: 'We're a bit different as the majority of our wines are own label and specially developed by our unique way of working; our buyers don't just 'buy' wines, they work in close partnership with our in-house winemakers to find, develop and blend each of our wines.'
For something refreshingly different try Jordi Miro White Grenache 2015 (£9.50) made from old vines in Spain's Terra Alta region, with its wonderful grapefruit flavours. Or how about Tannat from Uruguay?
Try Pisano Cisplatino Tannat 2015, (£9.50), a rich spicy red that shows just what the new world can do with this old world grape.
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