The concept of House Wine has never sat easily on my taste buds, nor on my wallet for that matter, neither in my student days when money was tight, nor today when it isn’t. My rationale is simple; would you buy a slice of “house cake”, a “house pie” or a “house sandwich” without knowing what was in it? The funniest example of this is from 20 years ago when a student friend of our late son, in a London Indian restaurant, studied the food menu for a few minutes then said, “I’ll have a Chicken Tikka Masala, two papadums, ……. and a bottle of your house red please”! He did it with such aplomb the whole gang of us are still laughing 20 years later.
The Indian restaurant incident sums it up, he wanted a spicy dish made from chicken with some sauce so his meal wasn’t too dry on the plate, but for his wine accompaniment quite frankly he didn’t give a shit!
In those days House Wines tended to be cheap stuff the bar or restaurant could easily sell en mass, whereas today people are far more discerning and usually want to know the grape and country of origin as well as the region. An oaked Chardonnay from the Languedoc in France is very different from an unoaked Chardonnay from Beaune also in France. Once again, it’s no different from buying Cox’s English apples in the supermarket instead of Pink Lady apples from South Africa.
Strangely, in a large wine producing country like France, I can’t recall seeing Vin Du Maison in any wine bars, cafes or restaurants especially in wine regions we have been visiting. Take a peek at the two chalkboards below, both are to be found in Burgundy, both are full of “local” wines with only two exceptions. The wine-by-the-glass chalkboard has some classy wines at VERY reasonable prices; but in no way are these traditional House Wines, because what they represent is actually the BEST VALUE wines of that establishment at that particular time (Summer 2017).
So, it has become increasingly fashionable for mere mortals such as ourselves to have our own House Wines in our own homes, those wines we turn to for the odd tipple, or when unexpected guests arrive and you don’t want to touch the £50+ bottles of Pommard or Puligny Montrachet! I owe the motivation for this post to Vinespiration who wrote recently on the same topic and I promised to tell them about my own three selected wines to open at short notice this Springtime, so here they are:
1. Wither Hills, New Zealand Marlborough, Chardonnay 2016 (£8.95 The Wine Society)
“A brilliantly reliable New Zealand chardonnay at a great price for the quality. Talented winemaker Sally Williams really understands this elegant but flavoursome style. Enticing vibrant apple and toasty melon aromas on the nose, and a refreshing medium-bodied palate.”
Click the link to read more about this wine on The Wine Society website title above
2. Domaine Laborie, Pays d’Oc 2017 (£5.95 The Wine Society)
“Full of deliciously ripe and brambly fruit, this Languedoc blend of grenache, carignan and syrah consistently hits the sweet spots for flavour, price and quality. Unsurprisingly, it’s long been a popular pick for members’ wine racks.”
Click the link to read more about this wine on The Wine Society website above
3. Exquisite Cremant du Jura, 2014 (£7.99 Aldi)
“Fantastically crisp and elegant with green apples, perfect acidity and persistent bubbles. Made from 100% Chardonnay, this wine has a sophisticated subtlety with stimulating fresh citrus notes and a lovely length.”
Click the link to read more about this wine on the Aldi store website above
All available in England and from reputable sources. Needless to say these will change as we enter Summer and certainly Pinot Noir or Gamay will feature as well as a Sauvignon Blanc and a suitable Rose.
And so now back to that horrible expression, House Wine. My daughter and I both deplore it and have decided to be more specific and name such wines after the home in which they feature. In my case such wines will henceforth be known as the Centurion Selection due to my recent admission into the very select Wine Century Club which you can read about here. But, we’d like to hear your own suggestions for naming your own home selections too. I await my daughter’s with trepidation!
I always order house wine, I like it best when it is served in a chipped ceramic pot in Greece or a weary and battered tin jug in Spain or Portugal. Cheap wine is the perfect accompaniment to a menu del dia!
My wine tip of the moment is an Australian Shiraz from Sainsbury’s called Wollemi. Only £4.60 and currently 25% of six bottles. Cheers!
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Nice! Wish they were available in the NL!
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You make some good choices too, but experimenting is fun, why not take a trip to Alsace or Beaune by car and fill up. I could recommend places?