Sorry everyone, it’s going to be cold and wet this weekend. Yes, from the Isle of Eigg in the Highlands (hello Kath!) to Suffolk’s Bury St Edmunds (greetings to John and Deidre, keep drinking the Extra Special Dao!) it’s not going to be a break-out-the-barbecue kind of day on Sunday or even Monday.

Bank Holiday wines

But in our house where exam revision tension is tangible the husband and I won’t be going crazy on the socialising front, so a glass or two of something tasty will make the rain thundering onto the conservatory roof and the suppressed panic on our daughter’s face frankly less of a concern.

So here are a few of my favourite bottles for Bank Holiday sipping – whether you are shivering in a tent in Devon or settling down with a box set at home, I hope you enjoy a very relaxing, happy few days.

Warming Red
Extra Special Douro – this is from Portugal and makes a cracking change from the legendary Dao (well, it’s a legend in my house). Amazingly rich and fruity with just enough oak to make it even more interesting and even better with food, this would be stunning with roasted, (barbecued!) and grilled meat.

Chilly Whites
Koru New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – from Thai green curry to fresh asparagus, from pesto chicken to summery salads (wishful thinking here) this should be your go-to wine. A little bit softer than your average New Zealand Sauvie, this is peachy rather than gooseberry fruity and I think all the better for that. Spring in a glass.

Yes it Really Is Spring Rose
Tagus Creek Rose Tejo – You might be wishing you hadn’t packed away your winter woollies but it’s May, for goodness sake, so let’s enjoy some rose: dry, chilled and delish with grilled haloumi, salade nicoise or creamy pasta. The Falua winery wins again in the value for money stakes.

Posted by Philippa on 01 May 2015

I’ve been having some fun browsing lists of ‘national days’ (like you do) and some sound rather bizarre to the casual observer – Read a Road Map Day, Bat Appreciation Day or National Tweed Day anyone? But I tell you what, World Malbec Day this Friday speaks to me loud and clear saying here’s a chance to join with wine lovers everywhere to celebrate the rich, smooth and tasty meat-marvel that is Malbec.

Top picks for Malbec day

Although they have been growing it since the 1850’s Argentina’s Malbec really took the US by storm in 2010 and now it’s the red of choice for a lot of wine fans in the UK as well.

Need a reliably dense and fruity red off a restaurant wine list or supermarket shelf? Go to Malbec. Fancy something flavoursome for the barbecue? Go to Malbec.

But Malbec isn’t just for meat – and it isn’t just from Argentina. In fact, the grape originated in France and was planted in both Bordeaux and the Cahors region before the treck to South Amercica was made in the 19th Century and now its travelling all over the place, with good wine being made in lots of different places like Chile and Australia.

So what’s happening on World Malbec Day? Well, a lot of exciting events in cities as far flung from one another as Helsinki and Hong Kong, Sydney and Toronto or London and Buenos Aires. So if you fancy your own celebration at home here are my Top Picks that are flavoursome, fun and brilliant matches to food.

Let’s just hope for BBQ weather now…

Trivento Reserve Malbec – rolled back to £6
Fun Factoid for the week: Trivento is the UK’s best selling Malbec and it’s easy to taste why – smooth, medal winning and glamorous it’s brilliant value. Bob-on with chilli con carne – or you can go all out for the velvety, black fruit jam-packed Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec (£13.47), a marvel with beef wellington.

Extra Special Argentinian Malbec – £5
How can such a great wine be so inexpensive? Because it’s Extra Special, that’s why. Choc-full of fruit from Mendoza and a favourite with friends. Really good with roasted Mediterranean vegetables or casseroles.

Chateau de Labarrade, Cahors – £7.97 or six for £40 from Wine Shop
Back to its origins, this is the chunky version of Malbec from South West France where the grape is known as Cot; and mightily tasty it is, too. Stunning with venison.

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 16 April 2015

Whatever you’re eating this Easter, Asda’s superb wine range has the perfect partner. We’ve got some fab recipes to choose from on our recipes site – give them a go this Easter and pair them with my pick of the bunch!

Easter wines

Extra Special Prosecco
I’ve been sourcing Extra Special Prosecco from the same supplier in the Piedmont region for many years. That style, which consistently wins medals in UK wine competitions, is fresh, lively and wonderfully fruity. Lovely on Easter Sunday with tasty snacks and nibbles; but just as delicious with fresh fruit desserts.

Try with any of these quick and easy party bites.

Extra Special Chardonnay
I’ve selected this Extra Special Chardonnay from the South of France to reflect the new, lighter, fresher styles which are now so popular; with a touch of oak to lend a gentle loveliness. This would be the perfect choice to serve alongside smoked or poached salmon, smoked haddock or pea and mint soup.

Try with this pea and mint soup.

Find out Philippa's other suggestions here.
Posted by Philippa on 27 March 2015

They say that the tradition of Mothering Sunday dates back to the days when young people were sent into service and on this Sunday in Lent were given the day off to go back to their ‘mother church’ where they could meet up with their families. This later became the day when they visited their mothers, picking flowers along the way.

We love Mothering Sunday in our household as it is such a delightful celebration of family and a hopeful herald of spring with flowers and fizz (and breakfast in bed as a bonus).

Wines for Mother's Day

My husband and daughters know they’re onto a winner with pink roses and my own mother is not averse to a cheeky glass of Prosecco (especially when it comes with a slice of Simnel), so here is what I’m hoping to give and receive this Mother’s Day:

Mumm Champagne

I think it’s fun to give a fizz called Mumm on Mother’s Day, in fact, it would be rude, not to! Here’s a classy sparkler from Champagne – and a really tasty lunch aperitif style (which I rather hope someone else will be cooking – hint, hint), so pop a bottle in the fridge overnight and be ready to help mum celebrate on her special day.

Martini Prosecco

One of my mother’s favourites – and I’ve treated her to a few different bottles over the years, I assure you, so she knows what she likes. She loves the fact that it’s smooth and fruity and not ‘sour’ as she would describe some bottles of fizz I’ve mistakenly given her and will work for her throughout the meal (or even on the breakfast tray). Because isn’t Mother’s Day all about treating your mum to something she’s going to love?

Albarino Alba

Here’s a deliciously soft and easy-drinking wine from Spain; if your mum enjoys Pinot Grigio you really can’t go wrong with this appley white. Think a big bouquet of daffodils, all fresh and sunshiny, and you’re there. Great with fish dishes or roast chicken.

Marlborough Sun Sauvignon Blanc

Hands up every woman who is partial to a glass of Sauvignon Blanc! Yep, that’s me… and a whole lot of other mums out there. And this New Zealand favourite is a real crowd pleaser, so you’ll be doing yourself a favour as well as your mum by treating her to a bottle – because you can share the love! But only if you promise to cook something really tasty for her to go with it – asparagus maybe? Or seafood? It’s in our two for £12 deal until 19th March!

So Happy Mothering Sunday to all the mums and all the children, young and old – enjoy the day!

Posted by Philippa on 04 March 2015

Weddings and celebrations – we all want those days to be perfect so we plan and organise and make endless lists and remember to do everything from flowers to favours.

Champagne for special occasions

But something many people forget is that if the food and wine are great then that will make for a memorable day; and if they’re just a bit below par or a wee bit disappointing that, sadly, will be what guests remember.

So I would suggest you don’t skimp on the refreshments – we all love good food, don’t we and it makes us happy – and do offer the best drinks you can afford. It doesn’t have to be complicated – at my wedding we served pink Champagne and a German wine, and that was it! No fuss, everyone was happy and it matched the food marvellously.

If I were planning a wedding this year I’d choose Prosecco for its apples and pears soft fruitiness (and I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love Prosecco) and Champagne for that dry and elegant, glamorous, “here’s to the happy couple or special person” toast.

So to everyone organising a big event in 2015, congratulations, relax and enjoy.

Visit the Asda Wine Shop Wedding and Events page

Posted by Philippa on 23 February 2015