An outdated tipple is never too old to receive a neat modern upgrade
Whether you’d call them iconic, kitsch or slightly naff, there are wines that define an era. Meanwhile, our palates have changed for the better and we’ve become savvy wine shoppers. Without knocking the originals, we bring you their modern day equivalents.
Check out our full list of picks below.
Lambrusco: Lambrusco Pruno Nero Dry
The 1970s have a lot to answer for, with sweet and semi-sparkling, Ribena-like Lambrusco near the top of the list. That, and water beds.
Lambrusco shouldn’t taste like that; we should be getting a rich cherry foam with accents of Parma violets. They’re served in sophisticated restaurants in Italy, for goodness’ sake.
This belting blend is made by the oldest producer in the Emilia Romagna region northern Italy.
Buy it for £11.99 from Waitrose.
Pinot Grigio: Taste The Difference Pinot Grigio
I once heard it called ‘Pinto Gringo’ in a bar, now I won’t pronounce it any other way. ‘Pinto Gringo’ has had a rough ride, cancelled thanks to mass-produced versions that tasted watery and bland, it still hasn’t fully recovered.
There should be a citrus salinity to better-made versions, like Sainsbury’s. Grown in the Trentino region of northern Italy, the cooling influence of the Dolomite Mountains gives this wine preserved lemony depth.
Buy for £6 from Sainsbury’s.
Sherry: La Gitana Manzanilla
‘Oh my God, I’m back again’, should be sherry’s strapline. Saying that, Backstreet might be back, but I’m never sure whether sherry is. Harvey’s Bristol Cream was the flavour of the ’80s, by that I mean the 1880s when it was first launched.
Nowadays, sherry’s dry and achingly saline styles are the new kids on the block, more NSYNC with modern palates. Nineties’ boyband references aside, La Gitana is the bone-dry benchmark for summer supping.
Buy for £9.69 from Waitrose.
Muscadet: Domaine de la Tourmaline ‘Sur Lie’ Muscadet de Sèvre’ et Maine
Poor Muscadet, it doesn’t have a bad bone in its lean, lower alcohol and lightly saline body. Once the wine of choice by shoulder-padded sophisticates in the 1980s, it got dumped once producers started churning out lakes of flavourless versions.
Being uncool has its upsides now the quality has shot up, as the prices haven’t. Look for ‘sur lie’ on the label, aka yeast ageing, like this apple and oatmeal-flavoured beauty.
Buy for £9.99 (£7.99 mix 6) from Majestic.
Riesling: Gunderloch Red Stone Riesling
Blue Nun, Black Tower, Liebfraumilch, Hock… I’m just going to leave those names there for a second. They served a purpose at the time, to charm the unsophisticated palate with semi-basic, off-dry Riesling. Trouble is, we’re savvy drinkers these days, with a penchant for dryer styles.
Cue this dry-adjacent Riesling from the banks of the Rhine, this has everything we need and more, with crunchy green apple over honey layered over nuances of delicious hazelnut brittle.
Buy for £8 from Co-op.
Beaujolais: Chiroubles Beaujolais Cru
Does one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of November ring a bell? It’s Beaujolais Nouveau clock, transported all over the world by motorbike, lorry, helicopter, jet, rickshaw, camel, elephant, you name it.
Big in the 1980s, the wine is light and fruity, but has always leaned towards flavours of bananas and strawberry bubble gum. We’re not in November, so opt for a silky cherry bottle from Chiroubles, a quality regional commune with some altitude.
Buy from the Co-op for £10.
Cava: Juve Y Camps Reserva Famila Cava
Cava, cava chameleon, should be their marketing mantra. You’re welcome,
Cava board. Cava is successfully shedding its Poundland perception, as it should.
It’s made in the same painstaking way as champagne, for Gaudi’s sake. Juve & Camps is front and centre of that evolution, so dip into its dry, pear compote on toast-flavoured bubbles and find out why.
Buy for £17.99 from Majestic.
Rosé: Vinho Verde Rosé
It really doesn’t get more kitsch or iconic than Mateus Rosé, am I right? I still maintain it’s a cracking match with curry though, those candied cranberry-flavoured bubbles are a winner with a lick of chilli.
Moving with the times, Vinho Verde Rosé shares Mateus’s light sparkles but dials down the sweetness to a bone-dry palate. Light in alcohol and intensity, this Portuguese pink serves a summery smorgasbord of pink grapefruit and wild strawberry flavours.
Buy from M&S for £7.50.
Chianti: The Best Toscana
I love a date night, especially in those ‘authentic’ Italian trattorias with Chianti bottles squatting in straw baskets on chequered, plastic tablecloths.
The baskets are called ‘fiascos’, which are now no longer a thing with modern-day Chianti, nor is the mediocre wine in the bottle.
New regulations elevating the quality kicked in during the 1980s and thank Bacchus’ beard they did, or we wouldn’t have cherry chocolate boxes of a wine like this Morrisons’ one.
Buy for £9 from Morrisons.
Chardonnay: D’Arenberg Shepherd’s Clock Chardonnay
Remember when Aussie chardonnays gave us a headache after one glass? Ah, the 1990s. They were big, brash and overblown, so we dropped them like a corporation after Pride month.
Well, they’re back, with lighter alcohol, better-bred grapes and cleverer use of oak. McLaren Vale’s D’Arenberg are masters, and this vanilla and hazelnutty white will put this style back on the map.
Buy for £9 from M&S.
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