Germany is most famous for Riesling. It's produced in a variety of styles from bone dry through to sticky sweet dessert wine. It ranges from fairly inexpensive for mass-market styles, through to eye-wateringly expensive for the late harvest and ice-wines (Eiswein), made from grapes that have hung, un-rotted on the vines until they freeze. Chances are, in your local supermarket, you'll find only the affordable lighter styles.
In all Rieslings, sweet or dry, you can expect "screaming acidity". Don't panic. That's wine-speak for zingy, zesty, & mouthwatering, though some people do find it a bit tart. You'll generally find lime in abundance, and candied lemon peel. You might find honey, red apple and "mineral notes", which sound rather unappealing when described as "wet stones" or "petrol", but actually add delicious complexity. Trust me on this.
For the budget concious (and those worried about the intense acidity of Riesling), you might go a bit retro and pick up a Piesporter-Michelsberg. I remember this blend of Riesling and Muller-Thurgau was the height of wine chic among the unsophisticated wine drinker of the early 80s. Surely it's better than Blue Nun? £4.50 at Tesco or Sainsbury's will get you a bottle and £5.29 at Waitrose, all medium-dry, they'll seem sweet if you've been drinking Sauvignon Blanc all summer. One advantage of the sweetness is they're slightly lower in alcohol.
Sorry to keep going on about it, but these late night matches mean we have to think of such things. I have to admit I was a bit too embarrassed to put a bottle of this in my trolley along with my Catena Malbec & Hedonist Shiraz. In these days of "loyalty cards", I'd have suffered from low wine credibility for years.
For a pure German Riesling at the lower price point, try the Kendermanns Special Edition at £7.49 (Waitrose). It's perhaps a bit too tart for some, but if you like a good squeeze of lemon and don't make a face, then this could be the wine for you.
Explaining how to decipher German wine labels will take longer than this post will allow, so if you don't want a sweeter style, look for Trocken, which means dry.
Red wine fans won't find anything affordable from Germany in our supermarkets, so it's time to head to our next Group G destination.
Made from the Touriga Franca, it's medium sweet, ever so slightly fizzy, and, at £4.99, I can see how it's managed to endure all these years.
It wasn't unlike a Kir. Not quite as fizzy as a Royale, but about that level of sweetness.
If you fancy a more traditional red, I don't have a lot of experience of the supermarket offering, but the medalling Tesco Finest Douro Red looks worth a punt, at a fiver. A blend of 3 grapes, including the Portuguese version of Tempranillo (Tinta Roriz) it will need to be served with a meal.
The famous white of Portugal is Vinho Verde. While there are plenty of other styles around this light, medium, slightly spritzy white is worth a fiver of your summer wine spend. There are plenty around, and I'm sure there's one in a supermarket near you. Expect citrus flavours.
According to the Guardian, the top Portuguese value white on your list should be Vale da Capucha Fossil Branco,
(£8.50, Asda Wine Shop) from the Lisbon area. Topping the polls at the recent Asda press-tasting (where was my invite?) this blend should have powerful peach and quince flavours, good body, & zingy acidity. I may just give it a go myself.
An early Purple Teeth blog covers a Portuguese red, here, as well as a German Mosel Riesling, a Chilean white, an Australian Shiraz & an Italian Fiano. It's like a prequel to the World Cup series, though I'm not sure of current availability.
Land of the free and the home of the brave. And also producer of millions of litres of wine every year. 97% of the production is from California, and while I love Viognier from Virginie and Pinot Noir from Oregon, you won't find those at everyday prices on Britain's supermarket shelves this summer.
So, it's to California we go in search of your final World Cup Winners.
Californian wines range from two-buck chuck (factory produced table wine) through to icons that are virtually unobtainable at any price. While we might dream of Opus One, Screaming Eagle or whatever else is hot this season, we return to Tesco in search of wines we can all afford.
Home of the branded wines Barefoot, Echo Falls, Blossom Hill, Gallo etc, you probably don't need me to recommend you an American wine. I reviewed the Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon in October and found it drinkable as well as affordable. I also picked out some special wines for the July 4th celebrations last year. They are very good, but you'd probably have to get them by mail-order, or from a specialist wine merchant.
I've been lucky enough to receive a few American wines as gifts recently. The stepson provided a 2010 Syrah from Selfridges (!) and my friend Heidi brought me my first ever Washington State wine, a Bordeaux Blend. I'll review these in depth in the coming months.
White Zinfandel is a rosé wine, sometimes known as blush. I had a glass by accident a couple of weeks ago, and it's even sweeter than the Mateus. You have been warned. A plea from all Zinfandel drinkers: "please don't bring me a bottle of white zin". It's no longer the 80's and wine drinkers grow up. However, it's cheap and cheerful and lots of ladies love it. Go right ahead if sweeter styles are your thing.
I love the deep, dark, over-ripe red wines from this Californian gem. It's usually a whopping 15% alcohol, yet still with a hint of sweetness. It is worth spending a little more to get good examples, as under-ripe Zin is much less appealing. If you can find it, look for "old vines" on the label. This should mean lower yields which, in turn, means a higher concentration of flavours.
In the past I've reviewed several Zins, including Brazin, and Ravenswood Old Vines among others. These are both available at The Wine Society, and the Brazin is stocked at Waitrose too. For the Tesco shoppers, there's a £9 Ravenswood Vintner's Blend, and a £9.99 Ravenswood Lodi Zin. I'd probably splash out the extra 99p since Lodi is among the best areas for Zinfandel in California. For once, the selection at Asda is even more expensive. The cheapest supermarket offering is Sainsbury's Turning Leaf Zin at £8.
You can expect dark fruit flavours like blackcurrant, blueberry and prune, along with cocoa notes, hints of raspberry or black cherry, and some spiciness, all wrapped up in vanilla oak smoothness. Why you'd swap that for sickly sweet blush wine, I'm not sure!
If money is no object, I'd choose a Ridge Vineyards Zin. And if you really want to support Croatia, there's new evidence to suggest this grape originated there. Problem solved.
When it comes to whites, California grows pretty much every one of the common white wine grapes.
I opt for Chardonnay. Some incredible (& incredibly expensive) bottles are produced by people like Stag's Leap. The one that makes it's way into Purple Teeth HQ most frequently is most like the Bonterra Organic Chardonnay from Mendocino County, which I reviewed in my first month of wine blogging. At around £12, it's not exactly entry level, but it's worth splashing out if you're looking for something to accompany your roast chicken.
I really hope you've enjoyed reading our supermarket world cup wine series. You'll find the other 5 parts by visiting our June 2014 archive. If I've done it right, I've encouraged you to go more confidently to the wine section and select something new that you should enjoy. Do share your experiences on our Facebook page.
I'd love to see photos of you enjoying our recommendations, or photos of what you've chosen instead.
Tell me a little about what you're drinking and why. It'll help me tailor future blog posts to your tastes. Meanwhile, whoever you're supporting this Wine World Cup 2014, enjoy! (...responsibly, of course)