As it’s bonfire night on Monday it may well be that you are going to be out in the garden watching the night sky light up with gunpowder as you stand near a roaring bonfire.
Hot dogs or steaming bowls of chilli may be on the menu, so here are a few winter warmers to help the evening well and truly sparkle.
In the UK, the wine region of Alsace is much misunderstood, which is a great shame as it produces some of the most food-friendly wines in France.
Pinot gris is Alsace’s take on pinot grigio – they are, in essence, the same variety.
In general it’s a much more interesting grape in this eastern French region than the oceans of somewhat nondescript Italian wine found here, particularly in the sub £10 a bottle category.
Pinot Gris 2017, Vin d’Alsace, Exquisite Collection (Aldi £7.49) is a lovely introduction to both Alsace wines and to pinot gris in particular.
The first thing you notice is the colour, a sure sign you are not in Italy here, there is a touch of gold straw in the glass and the aromatic nose is a really inviting mix of dried mango and apricot, a touch of honey and maybe a little smokiness in the background, or is that the bonfire?
The palate is medium bodied with more fleshy exotic fruit and honey but with some lively acidity to balance, before a touch of fruit sweetness and spice on the finish.
This is an off-dry wine but that’s what makes it such a versatile food wine.
Try it with duck liver pate with orange on hot buttered toast, or a warming fish pie.
Some reds for sausages or a chilli would include Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carménère 2017 (Co-op £7) which is not only great value but also a perfect autumnal evening wine, and the label is lots of fun.
It offers lots of dark currant fruit, black cherry and a little spice on the nose, followed by a fresh, easy mouth-feel with a nice spicy finish.
Toro Loco Edicion Memoria 2016, Utel-Requena (Aldi £9.99) offers bit more power.
Utel-Requena is a region near to Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast and this red is a blend of local grape variety bobal along with some tempranillo and merlot which has been aged in a mixture of oak barrels and clay amphorae.
This ageing has added a layer of complexity which, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting in this wine.
There are dark ripe, soft fruits – plums and cherries – on the nose with a little vanilla and spice, before a very smooth palate with more dark fleshy fruits and savoury spices and a long, warming, quite detailed finish.
It would be great with sausages around the fire but would also work really well with a bowl of venison casserole or a hearty lasagne and it really does over-deliver at this price, an autumn sparkler!