The Netherlands may have a good football team, but when it comes to growing things, tulips take precedence over grapes. Stick to lager. I like Oranjeboom if you can get a hold of it. The other countries have got wine sewn up.
Chile is a blossoming wine producing country and we Brits are drinking more and more of their wine. My notable white at the lower price end of the spectrum, is the Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier (shop around as prices vary from £5 - £8.50 across the supermarkets). It's voluptuous texture and floral notes are a great accompaniment to your exotic Asian takeaways. I reviewed it last year and I'm still drinking it fairly regularly, and it now has an IWC Bronze medal. The Cono Sur brand is reliable across the range if you want to try something else.
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is widespread and available at many price points. I find it less green, grassy and more peachy than New Zealand SB, and that, for me, is A Very Good Thing.
If you're a red wine drinker, the signature Chilean red is Carmenère. Known for a deep plummy flavour, it might appeal to Merlot drinkers. Asda stock 57 different Chilean wines, and other supermarkets will have an equally wide range. Experimentation is good here, since the wines are usually very good value. The Errazuriz brand is reputable although prices are closer to the £10-12 mark. Their Max Reserva Carmenère is £12.49 at Asda, while their Decanter Silver medal winning Cabernet Sauvignon Max Reserva is £12.99 at Waitrose (25% off any 6 wines till June 17).
Despite Chile's great reputation for value and quality, for me, it's a straight fight between Spain and Australia. Can I pick a winner? Two of my favourite wines come from these two countries, but Vega Sicilia Valbuena and Penfold's Grange aren't likely to be the wines my readers choose to accompany their football viewing. Frankly speaking, it's a long time since I had either wine, and the chances of buying either one any time soon look about as slim as Scotland winning the World Cup. Hint: Scotland aren't at the Brazilian finals!
Spain is one of my favourite wine producing countries. Just this week, I reconfirmed this as my local wine club tasting presented regional Spanish wines. There's an astonishing diversity from the world's 3rd largest wine producing country, and I've reviewed many of my favourites here at Purple Teeth before. Most notably, the "Spain versus the Rest of the World" tasting party is a good place to start.
As you're looking for easy to access, affordable supermarket wines, though, I'll give you a few more suggestions.
Verdejo: Lush creamy peach flavours, some zesty citrus and a lovely texture.
My very local supplier's is a favourite version of this delicious varietal from the Rueda region. Tesco have one or two on offer, and a couple blended with the much cheaper (and less interesting) Airen grape. It's worth spending that little bit more for the single varietal. Waitrose have a bronze medalling version for £7.99 and Sainsbury's have a 2 for £10 offer on their £6 winemaker's label. I can't personally vouch for any of these, nor Asda's Finca las Trenzones (£7.96), which gets 5 stars from it's customers. I even enjoy the mini bottles of Verdejo I get on British Airways flights, though I'm not sure when the next one of those will be.
Albariño: Probably my favourite of the Spanish whites, this grape is a great accompaniment for fish, as well as a great aperitif for summer drinking. Good versions have a Riesling-like acidity and they're very dry. From Spain's Celtic coastal region Rias Baixas, it's hard to find cheap versions. I have had a £5 bottle in my fridge for a while from Asda. I will report when I finally sample it, though I can't see it in their online shop any more.
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference (£8) is a creditable example and a great place to start if you've not triedthis grape. Read my review.
Untasted by me, the Tesco Finest (£7.49) has some advantages: 2 silver medals and 20% off any two Finest wines. Sounds tempting!
If you've got an Oddbins nearby, I'd encourage you to try something very unusual. The rare grape, Verdil from the area close to Valencia at around £8.25 has some pretty intriguing flavours of pineapple and almond. My review is here.
Tempranillo is Spain's most popular and widely grown red. You'll find it in Rioja, Ribera del Duero and in a variety of prices and styles, from young and brimming with red fruit around the £5 mark, up to prices that only the people on the pitch can afford. For Riojas, I tend to enjoy Faustino, which is widely available, and tend to avoid Campo Viejo. I've reviewed several supermarket Riojas and Ribera del Dueros in the past, so take your pick. The cheapest Tempranillo I've ever reviewed, but still worth drinking is the Toro Loco from Aldi, which may still be under £4 a bottle. I've no idea how they do it considering the tax on wine, but if you've a branch nearby, don't be shy on stocking up! It's the perfect red, too, if you want to make summer sangria, or the cocktail sweeping Spanish resorts, "Kalimocha" - a blend of chilled red wine, ice, cola and orange (triple sec is nice).
For something different, you could try a Mencia from the Bierzo region. Here's my review of one from M&S that's just £6.99
Monastrell from Jumilla is a deep, dark and spicy red, again found in different styles. Cheaper versions will be fruitier, while older and more expensive versions will have more spice, and oaky, smokey notes. You'll find Carta Roja (older style) and Tapa Roja (younger and fresher) in Sainsbury's, often on special offer.
You'll also find it in blends at M&S with Grenache and Syrah.
There's a wealth of Spanish wine in any supermarket, usually reasonably priced. Don't be afraid to experiment. If you must have Rosé, I reckon the best ones are from the Navarra region. If it's not clear where the one in your hand comes from, check the back label. For fizz, Cava makes a tasty alternative to the Prosecco you may have been choosing lately. And don't be afraid to try a sherry or two!
Australia is a phenomenon in the wine world. It's one of Britain's biggest wine providers, by volume, with huge sales of bulk and branded wines.
It also produces some really premium wines with an amazing reputation for quality and consistency.
It's no surprise to any Purple Teeth reader that I'm a huge fan of Aussie Shiraz, so I'll start with the reds.
Shiraz: Bold black fruit flavours, with peppery spice, full body and bags of alcohol.
Anything by Penfolds or Peter Lehmann will be good. You'll find these in many supermarkets. Look for the Barossa Valley region if you're willing to spend a bit more. It's got the best old vines.
Possibly my all-time favourite supermarket Shiraz is The Hedonist from the McLaren Vale. At £13.99 from Waitrose, I'll be stocking up during their 25% offer. I've reviewed £5 Shiraz before and I'd really rather pay that bit more to get something worthy of the name. But you decide.
Blends: Red blends are commonplace around the world, but they're very easy to spot in Australia wines since you'll generally find the grape varieties prominently listed on the front label. You'll find GSM blends (Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro) are appealing in a number of styles. I recently reviewed one from M&S though possibly higher in price than a football quaffing wine merits.
You'll also find blackcurrant flavoured, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon and plummy flavoured, soft Merlot. They're often blended too. At all price points, these should be easy to find in any supermarket. They're not my first choice in wines, but Mr Purple Teeth is partial to a Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon, if you're looking for a specific recommendation. In general though, when it comes to Australian wine, the cheap and cheerful will be labelled as "South East Australia". Given that's an area larger than all of Europe's combined vineyards, you should get better quality wines by sticking to a smaller named area.
Chardonnay is the grape Australia treated badly in the 80s and 90s, leading to the rise of the ABC wine drinker (Anything But Chardonnay).
You'll find 2 main styles:
Oaked - creamy with hints of vanilla, good body and a lot more restrained than it used to be.
Unoaked - more crisp apple, and citrus with hints of peach and tropical fruit in good examples.
I've not been drinking much Australian white wine lately, but as with the reds, you'll find Penfolds makes some great Chardonnays.
Tesco stock 90 Australian whites! It's no surprise that shoppers get confused.
Sticking with medal winners, Tesco Finest (£8.99) Hunter Valley Semillon has a silver from IWC and is in a medium dry style. This area is the most renowned for Semillon. You'll often find this grape blended with other whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc (the signature blend of Bordeaux whites).
If you prefer a crisper style Tesco also stock an IWC silver medal Riesling. Clare and Eden Valleys are the regions to look out for, but the Barossa Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling at £15 should be a bit more special than your average Jacob's Creek branded wine. Southern hemisphere Rieslings are generally packed with zingy lime flavour alongside the mineral and petrol notes we expect from that grape.
I'm confident that Purple Teeth readers will have no problem finding something to suit from Spain or Australia. I'd love to hear your views on which ones you prefer and why, and if you've picked up some gems, share them on our Facebook page.