As autumn leaves drift down from the trees and a distinctly chilly wind forces us to wrap up warm, our thoughts are likely turning to warming red wines to enjoy as the nights draw in.  But don’t just rely on those old favourites you drank last autumn. Why not mix it up a bit and step out of your wine rut even when you’re well and truly ensconced under a cosy blanket wearing your favourite slippers? The joy of wine is that there is always something new to discover and luckily it doesn’t take much effort to unearth a few hidden gems. We’ve picked a few firm favourites and our suggestions for some tasty alternatives:

Aussie Shiraz

If you like Australian Shiraz, try a complex Portuguese red instead, made from an intriguing blend of local Portuguese grape varieties. Francos Reserva, Lisboa is a great example.

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Multi-award winning winemaker Jose Neiva Correia produces this stunning blend of Portuguese grape varietals Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Alicante Bouschet, made to honour his thirty years as a winemaker. The wine is aged for fourteen months in new oak followed by a further eighteen months in bottle to produce a rich, full bodied style with heady aromas of sweet spice and fruit cake, following through to a palate of fresh black fruit flavours, supple and rounded tannins and a lovely crisp finish. The wine scored a fantastic 92 Points from Wine Enthusiast and was named Best Wine from the Lisboa region in the Portuguese Revista de Vinhos 2015.

Rioja

 

Spanish wine is the most popular on the planet with Spain exporting a record 2.4 billion litres of wine in 2015. Rioja wine with its typical flavours of strawberries and an aroma of aged leather is hugely popular in the UK. If Rioja is your default choice of red, expand your repertoire with an Italian star with a similar flavour profile. We recommend Capezzana Barco Reale Di Carmignano.

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Take a hop, skip and a jump over the Med to Italy and you’ll find a wealth of indigenous Italian grape varieties that can offer a great alternative to your everyday favourites. One of the more well-known of these Italian varieties is Sangiovese. It’s a grape that produces deliciously fruity yet savoury wines with strawberry, plum, fig and cherry but also a leather, clay, smoke and tobacco character much like your old favourite, Rioja.

Bordeaux

We think our Barbera d’Asti Superiore, 2014 Fratelli Ponte punches well above its price tag whilst providing a similar drinking experience to that most cerebral of wines, Claret. Like Claret, Barbera is medium bodied but still tastes rich and has a wonderful dark colour.

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Beautiful packaging and contents combined, this Barbera features a hand-drawn label by grappa producer and artist Romano Levi, designed exclusively for the family in 2000. The Barbera is produced in the heart of the Asti area and aged in stainless steel for six months and then small and large oak barrels for twelve months, retaining the purity of fruit with an underlying richness.