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Interesting Whites & Refreshing Reds

Tristan Darby

We’ve passed the halfway mark of the year, the mercury is rising, and it’s time for buying lighter, fresher styles of wine for the warm summer days ahead. But with so many different wines available to us lucky UK consumers, it’s easy to stick with safe ‘go to’ options like sauvignon, pinot and beaujolais. So we thought we’d help you find a few more obscure off-the-beaten-track options from around the world that are perfect for summer sipping.

Elki PX.jpeg

Pedro Ximenez (PX for short) is a white grape you might have heard of before. It’s from Andalucia, harvested over-ripe and then sun-dried to make one of the world’s sweetest wines (also called PX) or to be used as a sweetening agent for sherry.

However, Vina Falernia, Elki Pedro Ximenez (£8.95 Great Western Wine), made in Chile’s Elqui Valley, on the southern fringes of the Atacama Desert, is an unusually dry and crisp take on PX that’s worth checking out. With lovely floral and lime zest notes, it’s ideal for everyday summer drinking, aperitifs and light summer salads. There’s some weight and texture to the palate which not only adds interest for drinking but also makes it suitable for light fish and chicken dishes. This is a fab summer staple worth stocking up on.


Sparkling wine is England’s flagship style, gaining acclaim at home and abroad, but we’re also making delicious still wines - and with production and quality on the up, they’re starting to make their mark. Production costs are high, however, so rather than compete with bulk wines from afar, savvy producers are focussing their attention on quality, not quantity. 

Lyme Bay, Shoreline (£16.95 GWW) is made just north of Seaton on Devon’s Jurassic Coast, and it’s gorgeously light, dry, aromatic and fresh. Subtle layers of citrus, elderflower and nettle are followed up with a lip-smackingly dry slightly saline finish. This is the English coastal countryside in a glass, and the perfect wine to accompany fresh seafood dishes, sunny summer afternoons in the garden, or a trip to the beach.



Chilling red wine seems counterintuitive to many brits I meet in our often grey and pleasant land. But a lightly chilled red on a hot day can be really refreshing. Juicy, fruity, lower tannin, lower alcohol wines work best and pinot noir, grenache and gamay are classic grapes to go for -  but here’s a couple of alternatives. Ailala, Souson (£13.95 GWW) from Ribeiro in north-west Spain is fresh, fruity and jam-packed with blueberry and plum flavours. It’s smooth but comes with the local souson grapes hallmark acidity which brightens the palate and refreshes. Great to have at hand for when the sun gets his hat on and perfect with chicken, pork or cured meat.


Elegant and attractively fresh, Huaso de Sauzal, País (£22.95 GWW) is made from local pais grapes harvested from ancient vines of up to a staggering 300 years of age in Chile’s Maule Valley. It’s a ‘natural’ wine vinified using gentle traditional winemaking techniques and is another fabulously juicy red with cherry-like fruit and touch of smoky spice on the finish. It’s unique, unusual and the perfect drop to enjoy with picnics, barbecues, or even poshed-up pizza.

Join Tristan for an Interesting Whites and Refreshing Reds tasting at Great Western Wine on 25th July.

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Tristan Darby

GWS tutor TRISTAN DARBY offers advice for balmy summer's evenings, on where to seek the perfect ginspiration!

Anyone who’s visited a bar or spirits retailer over the last few years will be aware of the gin bloom. Last year saw record UK sales of more than 40m bottles, with 2016 being dubbed ‘the year of gin’. This meteoric rise is far from over (with more than 40 new distilleries opened in the UK last year alone), and with an increasingly dynamic and diverse range of quality-led gins on offer – who’s to complain?....

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Xmas Tips # 4 - For Turkey

Tristan Darby

Perhaps the most self-explanatory in this series of Blogs, this one is for the traditionalists among you, that are going to get a big 'ole bird in the oven for the main event. 

As always, I've chosen a few wines to suit different palates and budgets. However, it's not just the turkey we're pairing to the wine here, as it's not the most flavoursome of meats, but also the plethora of other items on the plate.

With that in mind, it's best to go for medium to full-bodied wines that can stand up to everything and still carry the essential flavour.

Happy Basting!


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Xmas Wine Tips #3 - For Fireside

Tristan Darby

Despite what the daily mail might tell us, we'll probably not get a white Christmas this year (surprise), it might not even be that cold - but that won't stop most of us from donning a naff wooly jumper, popping a few logs on the fire, and settling down for a spot of well-earned seasonal relaxation.

So for today's tips, I'm choosing a few of my favourite wines with a bit more warmth, depth and all round palate-hugging nom-ness to help you relax and self-congratulate on the past twelve months hard slog.

Go-on. You've earned it!


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Xmas Wine Tips #2 - For Sipping

Tristan Darby

Christmas is easily my favourite time of year, and a golden opportunity to loosen the belt a notch (or three), slap on the seasonal Sinatra and kick back with the nearest and dearest for a marathon of thanksgiving, enjoyment and over-indulgence.

But as much as the season and food choices will dictate the need for us to stock up on more robust 'wintery' wines, with all that richness and indulgence it's a good idea to have a few bottles in that are perfect for lighter bites and simple sipping.

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Xmas Wine Tips #1 - Xmas Fizz

Tristan Darby

Christmas is a time for celebration, thanksgiving and indulgence - so it gives us the perfect excuse to grab a few bottles of fizz for festive toasting and seasonal supping with our loved ones.

I've chosen some sparkling wines at different price points that offer heaps of drinking pleasure and great value for money (so you can afford to buy a few more bottles, of course). Enjoy!

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