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The Very Best French Wine Bargains
Let's get started down the road
Fill your Booots ...car boots that is with French Wine
French Supermarkets are some of the best places to buy French wine from all price ranges, from Vin de Table to Chateau bottled grande Cru and everything in between. It makes sense to compare all the ferry prices, not forgetting Euro tunnel, as there are plenty of good offers around. It pays to plan a special wine buying trip, as opposed to trying to fit a case or two in the boot when returning from holiday.
What about the weight?
You may ask how much wine will fit safely in my car- the answer depends on the size of your car! Most Supermarket wines are packed 6 to a cardboard box. A Hatchback will take between 35 - 40 boxes, (assuming just 2 people travelling and also the rear seats folded down) an estate will take around 60 boxes, while a van will take many more.The weight of the loaded vehicle must be taken into consideration as a safety measure. Look in your vehicle handbook under PAYLOAD (gross weight less kerb weight) Cars or vans that look overloaded may attract the attention of the police, and they would stop you, not ideal when you have a ferry to catch!
How much will all this wine weigh?
A cardboard box of 6 x 75cl bottles of still wine will weigh between 8 or 9 kilos. Now if you also bring sparkling wine, those 6 bottles will weigh around 11 kilos. Of course you could opt for 3 litre Wine boxes or the 5 litre.brown plastic mini-barrels or even the 1 /1.5 litre plastic bottles which would be lighter in weight. For your peace of mind, why not take your bathroom scales along so you can weigh them yourself..
Because import duty charged in England is on volume and not value, the cheaper French wines are the best value. Whether you and your passenger are just buying your yearly stock of wine ,or for your Christmas / New Year party, a wedding or other special event, considerable savings can be made. Before you go, remember to make a note of the prices charged by your favourite off-license and local Supermarkets.
Which are your favourites?
We all have our favourite wines - Red, White and Sparkling. here is a list of some of mine:-
White Burgundy - made from the Chardonnay grape. Red Burgundy - made from the Pinot Noir grape.
Red Bordeaux (Claret)- blended from several grape varieties.
The Northern Rhone wines - made from the Syrah grape.
Champagne - generally made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and PinotMeunier grapes.
A lot of wine is now sold under the name of the grape that it's made from, some examples are : Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Gros Plant, Gewurtztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Beaujolaise, Merlot and Gamay.
How long will my wine keep for?
Vin de Table - drink within 6 months
Vin de Pays -drink within 1 year
Appellation Controllee - the quality varies so it's difficult to say
Vin Mousseux (Sparkling Wine) and Champagne - may improve with keeping 1 year
Light dry Wines - drink within 2 years
Light Reds (Beaujolais) drink within 6months - 1 year.
Vin Rosé -drink within the year
Medium Dry & Spicy - drink cheaper ones within the year the more expensive ones will keep for up to 5 years.
Medium Reds - Keep well for more than 4 years.
Full bodied reds - rich in tannin, improve with keeping between 5 and 10 years depending on the quality.
Recommended varieties to drink young
A selection of white wines.
Sparkling Vouvray, Muscadet-Sevre et Maine (sur lie is the best), Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Plant.
And from the Reds -Bouches de Rhone, Bergerac, Corbieres, Herault, Côtes de Rhone, Beaujolais, Jardin de France.
All the Rosé Wine . Party wine, made to be drunk young
Now the Medium Dry Spicy wines of Alsace - Edelswicker, Gewurtraminer, Muscat, Reisling and Sylvaner.
The Sweet Whites or Pudding wines (always a deeper colour than dry - usually have Moelleux written on the label).My personal choices would be, Coteaux de Layon, Monbazillac, Vouvray Moelleux, Pineau de Charentes and Rivesaltes (which is also available in Red)
Last but by no means least, the best wines to savour on that very special occasion are the Full Bodied reds, like Cahors, Chateauneuf du Pape, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, Haut Medoc, Côtes du Roussillon and Minervois.
And also the Classic Whites like Chablais and Graves, not forgetting Champagne.
If you still have some space left, why not take some Spirits? Some Classic French Calvados (Apple brandy), or Pastis (aniseed flavoured like Pernod), or Cognac. Don't forget the Vermouths (lots of choice here) and other Fruit Liqueurs - from Kirsch to Cassis and everything in between, there is a vast choice, so many more than in the usual English Supermarket.
Where to buy my Wine ?
The main French Supermarkets (and the much larger Hypermarkets) are many and varied. In Northern France you will always find LIDL - excellent for cheaper wines around £1 a bottle- but choice is rather limited, although the better wines are generally on special offer during December.
Intermarché, Super U, Hyper U, Le Clerc and Carrefour all have good offers, often they offer "Buy one get one Free" on selected boxes of wine (usually Chateau bottled) A good idea is to regularly check out their websites for up and coming Fêtes de Vin - (Festival of Wine)
I wish you all happy shopping and Bon Route!
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