Mini wine bottles are becoming more popular as people look to cut down on waste. There are some nights where only a full bottle will do. When shared with friends and family, it can be the perfect way to end the day. However, on occasions you just want that cheeky little glass. Problem is, you’re going away tomorrow, or you’re about to kick start that marathon training that you’ve been meaning to get to and you don’t want to waste the rest of the bottle. Unfortunately the options for mini bottles of wine can be limited. However we’ve developed a range to change that.
Mini Wine Bottles – #GoMini
Last year our Wine Advent Calendar included some of our finest wines in miniature bottle form. We’re not talking about those dodgy £1.99 bottles you get in the supermarket which would be better suited to flavouring a Spaghetti Bolognese than sipping away at in the comfort of your own home. We’re talking award winning wines from award winning winemakers. Why should you have to compromise on quality when all you want is a tasty tipple? In short…you shouldn’t. That’s why we extended our mini bottle range far beyond the 24 days of happiness that was the wine advent calendar.
We’ve now got three selections for the discerning wine-lover who refuses to compromise on quality. The range of mini wine bottles includes powerhouse names like “The Black Pig”, “Perez Cruz” and “Billy Bosch”. The range of styles that we have is sure to impress anyone and everyone, from fresh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to intense Aussie Shiraz.
If you find yourself opening a bottle of wine only to return to it a week later, disheartened that it’s no longer at its best, this selection is for you. 20 mini bottles of premium-quality wine, delivered to your door.
If you’re asked to name the winemaking regions of the world, you’d be forgiven for leaving a number of German regions off your list. It may not be host to some of the most well-known regions, but it’s certainly home to some of the more outstanding wines in Europe… in fact hold on to your lederhosen, we’d say it’s one of the most underrated regions in Europe, if not the world.
Unfortunately, Germany secured a reputation for producing large quantities of boring and cheap sugary wines, and it’s a reputation that is slowly evaporating with each passing vintage. With the German climate getting warmer, there is a greater percentage of wines being produced in a dry style, which is far more popular with consumers worldwide.
If you want to start exploring the world of German wine, the first thing you need to get your head around is the terminology. Here are a few of the keywords, phrases that you’ll need to become familiar with:
Trocken = Dry.
Halbtrocken = Off-dry.
Spätburgunder = Pinot Noir.
Deutscher Tafelwein = Lowest classification of table wine.
Landwein = Table wine from one of 19 specified areas. Equivalent to Vin de Pays in France.
Anbaugebiete = The name for the 13 approved quality wine regions.
Einzellage = An individual vineyard.
Grosslage = A group of adjoining vineyards.
Bereich = A district within a quality region.
Prädikatswein = Quality wine, originating from a single district within one of the 13 quality regions.
Kabinett = A variety of light Prädikatswein, crisp acidity, lowest level of Prädikatswein.
Spätlese = Late harvest wine with more concentrated flavours. More body than a Kabinett.
Auslese = Made from individually selected extra-ripe grapes. Highest Prädikatswein in dry style.
Beerenauslese = Rare expensive wine. Enhanced by the effects of noble rot.
Eiswein = Ice-wine. Made from frozen grapes. Intensively concentrated pure fruit flavours.
Trockenbeerenauslese = Only produced in finest vintages, individual grapes that have undergone noble rot.
We’d highly recommend starting your German exploration with a bottle of Riesling. This noble grape is produced in a number of styles across a number of regions and accounts for around a fifth of all plantings. Usually ripening around late October, its naturally high levels of acidity helps the wines age well. The Germans take immense pride in their Rieslings and for good reason, it’s the most widely planted grape in Germany and they’ve become experts in the production.
If you’re more a red wine drinker, then we’d advise getting involved with some Spätburgunder, which is the German name for Pinot Noir (see, you’re already becoming an expert). Located mainly in the Pfalz Baden region in southern Germany, this variety produces full-bodied fruity wines that are becoming increasingly popular the world over.
This is a question that we get asked a lot. With the rise of Veganism in the UK, we thought we’d try to explain. It would be easy to think that all wine was Vegan. Isn’t it just made from grapes? While the production of wine is the picking, pressing and fermentation of grapes, there are certain wine-making techniques that can turn a Vegan friendly wine, into a wine that vegans would want to avoid.
How Does A Wine Become Non-Vegan?
So how does a wine become non-vegan during the wine-making process? It all comes down to the fining agents that are used to bring more clarity to the wine. During the process there are certain molecules that are produced which cause wines to be hazy to the eye. These can be tannins, phenolics and tartrates. These molecules are all natural by-products of the wine-making process and are completely harmless to consume. However who wants to drink a hazy wine? In a world where aesthetics really matter, winemakers know that they can’t ship their wine without extracting these molecules using fining agents.
A lot of the fining agents that were traditionally used contained animal products. Whether it’s egg whites (known as albumin) commonly used in the production of red wine. Or a milk protein (known as casein) commonly used in the production of white wine, this process makes wine non-vegan.
So Wine Has Animal Products In It?
Once the fining process has been complete, the agents used are removed. So whether that’s the egg whites or the milk protein, once they’ve done their job they are removed from the finished product. However due to the nature of wine, tiny traces of the animal product can be absorbed, thus making it non-vegan. It’s important to remember that the likes of albumin and casein are processing agents and not additives to the wine, so they may not be clearly listed on the label.
The Future Of Production
Now, with the rise of Veganism along with a desire for organic and biodynamic wine. Winemakers are taking a more natural approach. If wines are left to naturally develop, they will usually self-fine, reducing the need to introduce animal products into the process. For the wines that don’t self-fine, there are alternative fining agents available for winemakers, including clay based methods.
Over 230 To Choose From
Here at Virgin Wines we work with a lot of independent winemakers who have always believed in allowing the natural process to do its job. Which is why we have over 230 Vegan-friendly wines to choose from, including a number of red, white, prosecco and champagne options. We’ve even popped a few mixed cases together that contain only Vegan wines and knocked some money off the price.
You may have noticed an influx of listings to our Portuguese range recently. For a long time now, behind the scenes, we’ve been working on a project with Wines of Portugal with the aim of delivering wines that express the full potential of Portugal at great value. We feel we’ve nailed it! And we hope you do too. Read on for a little bit of background on the wines and their regions that are behind this exciting new project.
This green, wet region in northern Portugal has been born again in recent years. Back in the 80s most producers would grow their grapes for wine on highly trained vines, leaving room beneath for other crops to maximise the return on their land. The wine suffered as a result of this diluted focus on the grapes giving the region a somewhat poor reputation for its wines. However, in recent decades, a few tweaks in the vineyard has led to truly high quality output which has kicked that hangover reputation into touch.
Furthermore, Vinho Verde has a bit of luck on its side. The natural style of white wine produced here, when left to its own devices, is light and vibrant with very moderate alcohol levels and the occasional slight spritz. Pretty much bang on-trend!
The Falco da Raza is precisely made in this style. Freshly picked Granny Smith apple, lemon and lime with a stony mineral feel on the palate lifted by a small sparkle. It shows too its proximity to the Atlantic with a subtle salinity that makes it a great match for any food of the sea.
Not a departure from the appeal of this on-trend style, but an example of how complex and interesting it come become, is the AIR Vinho Verde by Antonio Lopes Ribeiro. Again with a very friendly alcohol level, and impressive vibrancy, this organically grown and made Loureiro-Avesso-Arinto blend has extra depth and richness akin to a fine German Riesling.
In stark contrast to Vinho Verde, Alentejo is a large (about a third of the whole country), dry and hot region. Like most of Portugal’s wine regions, it has benefitted greatly from EU membership and funding has allowed them to bring the quality level right up to comfortably compete on the world stage. For a long time, and as remains the case, it’s also the world’s most important cork producer.
Its arid climate could be considered too hostile for wine production, but thanks to certain soils this is happily not the case. The Ribafreixo Barrancoa Tinto benefits greatly from its vineyard’s schist soil which retains the minimal rainfall and gradually feeds the vines throughout the ripening months, which gives wines from this region density to its fruit underpinned by a mineral character that creates lightness on the palate.
Although Algarve is deep in the south of Portugal, it has coastline on both the west and the south, and is protected from the hot weather inland to the east by a string of mountains, tempering the hot summer sun and making for a cooler overall climate than those a little further north and inland.
Despite not having the same fame for wine production as some of the country’s other regions, it does have quite a long history of it. Tourism has taken precedence in recent years, but more and more talented and ambitious winemakers have identified the potential for wine down here and are starting to raise the profile.
That is where Convento do Paraiso comes in, the producer of our Imprevisto Algarve Tinto. This is the result of a long and considered study of the soil and microclimate, to determine the varieties best-suited to the vineyard site. Time very well spent, we say!
Trends in wine make a big difference. Just look at Prosecco or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. And Portugal’s time appears to be now. The light and fresh style of white wine is exactly what people are asking for, and the huge choice of different and interesting grape varieties, and a continuation of quality-focussed winemaking will surely be the recipe for its success when the time comes to look back in hindsight at Portugal’s rise.
Visiting our Canary Wharf LIVE event? We’ll have super tasty selection of wine available for you on the 22nd February, but if you fancy a quick bite to eat before or you want to keep the party going after, here are a few places to grab some great treats.
I am loving Japanese style cuisine at the moment and ROKA is the place to go in Canary Wharf. The building itself is built using natural wood and stone and offers a chilled and relaxing environment. If you prefer to get up close and personal, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the chefs at work from a seat at the bar.
If you’re in the mood for more drinks try their shochu infusions, which you can personalise and order before your visit.
Chop’d has over 13 stores now across London and Manchester and is a great quick stop for soups, salads and stews made from natural ingredients, catering for vegans and meat eaters alike. Having vegan friends and myself being a carnivore it’s sometimes hard to find somewhere that has a balance of dishes we can all enjoy in one place. Chop’d has that and I especially like the Silician meatball stew.
The main restaurant is located in London Bridge but their pop up kiosk in Reuters Plaza is still worth a visit if hunger strikes. Grab yourself some of their summer rolls and pho for a fresh tasty treat.
Whenever my girlfriend and I are in London, macaroons are a must. And L’Orchidee caters to those cravings until 8pm. They also have a range of patisserie, cakes and a delicatessen; everything you need to satisfy that sweet tooth.
My Favourite place to eat is the Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch, so to find a similar place in the Big Easy – where barbeque meats and live Jazz combine gets me excited and is going on my top tips list for 2018! Pick out a Lobster from the icy waters of Novia Scotia and chill out to music from the likes of Clayton Moss and Andy Walton.
Need a place to bridge the gap between the office and the evening tasting? Iberica is a great place to do that. Choose between the bustling atmosphere at the bar downstairs or the more chilled vibe upstairs. Why not graze on their range of tapas that will compliment all those Spanish Reds you’ll be trying later on.
Cigar Library overlooking the city skyline? Yes Please! Boisdale might be on the higher end of the wallet scale, but definitely seems like quite the experience. Famous acts such as Viva Santana and Jools Holland have all graced the stage on their live event nights. Ending a Virgin Wines LIVE event night with Scottish Steak and cigars seems like the perfect night to me.
We’re delighted to announce that we have been named the Online Drinks Retailer of the Year for the second year in a row. In 2017 we took home the gong from the Drinks Retailing Awards, and last night we were again honoured to receive the award for the 2nd year in a row, sharing the prize with The Whiskey Exchange.
It’s always an honour to receive any recognition for the work we do here at Virgin Wines, but to be able to beat out the brightest and best innovators in the sector is always special. The Drinks Retailing Awards are the Oscars of the drinks industry and for the 2nd year in a row, we were able to take home best picture, and we couldn’t be happier.
Absolutely thrilled that @VirginWines were recognised once again as Online Drinks Retailer of the Year for 2018 by @DrinksRetailing. The second year running! Now to make sure we make it a hatrick in 2019!!!
Delighted to say that we’ve done it again! Named Online Drinks Retailer of the Year for 2018 by @DrinksRetailing – It’s our 2nd year in a row, and now we’re looking for the hat-trick in 2019. Thank you to all staff & customers for making VW an award winning company (Again ) pic.twitter.com/fRqNKnoVOw
We’d like to thank all our staff, our customers and everyone who’s part of the Virgin Wines family from around the globe for making this such a special company, and we can’t wait to see if we can make it a hat-trick in 2019.
A question that evokes as many emotions as the holiday itself; putting the fear of god in to those who realise it’s too late to book that favourite restaurant you both like or the anticipation of them opening the home made card you’ve been working on for the last few days at the office so they don’t find out (my desk is full of glitter and it gets everywhere).
Just when you think you’ve navigated the vast mountain that is Valentines Day planning and you’ve both sat down to dine across the romantic candle lit setting before you, one obstacle remains – The Wine List. Where do you begin? What goes with what and did I bring the right bottle to impress that first date?
Ok it isn’t that dramatic but knowing a few things can help you navigate the inevitably long wine list waiting for you at the table and even help bring that all rounder crowd pleaser to impress that special someone. We’ve given you a few tips below on how to do just that; what to pair with what food groups and how to taste wine without looking like you’re dizzy from one of cupids arrows.
What to pair with what
You’re on a date with your perfect pairing but how do you get your food and wine to pair as beautifully as you and your date? Well the trick is to pick an all rounder. “Pick something light and refreshing to start; like a nice muscaday or pinot Grigio. A great Kiwi sav will be a good place to start” Says Dave Roberts, wine buyer here at Virgin Wines. “Set the meal off as you mean to go on, you can always go for something more intense later.”
These will pair nicely with the typically lighter dishes on the menu for the feast of Saint Valentine. If you’ve rolled the dice on that post date smooch and gone for something more heavy on the flavour palette you need to order a wine to match. Our wine pairing guide suggests a powerful red like an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon or an American Zinfandel which will go well with rich game, or roast/red meat dishes.
I like to remember it as ‘If your dish is light, choose white, but if your foods been bred, choose red.’
Corny I know but I bet you have it stuck in your head now. Alternatively the Sommelier is there to help, don’t be afraid to ask! Also discreetly pointing to a particular wine might help get across you’re looking for a glass at a specific price point.
How to order like a pro
So you’ve taken charge and picked your selection, your dates impressed but how do you go that extra mile and back up that embellished story of back packing through Western Europe? Well the next step is to check the vintage. The waiter will come over and present the bottle for you, this is your opportunity to double check the vintage; seeing so many bottles myself it’s easy to pick up the wrong vintage or if their being sneeky and trying to palm a lower vintage off as another you’ll want to make sure.
Sampling the wine is solely for the purpose of checking if the wines been spoilt or corked, not if you actually like the taste of the wine because once that beauty has been opened you’re committed much like that proposal you’ll be planning if this date goes well. Swirl the wine a little in the glass and take small sips, if there is something wrong you should be tasting a damp like taste or smelling a slight inky tinge like wet newspaper if so, say so and they should bring out a fresh bottle in just a jiffy.
All that’s left to do is enjoy the wine!
The perfect Gift
So you’ve been invited over for a romantic meal and you want to bring along something to prove you were worth the wait? ‘You can’t go wrong with a bit of fizz’ says Dave Roberts again ‘But if you want want to impress try something like the Domaine Baumard which stands out from the traditional Prosecco choices’. If you still want to up your gift game then we have some great Sendagift choices:
Laurent Perrier Rose & Glasses – £69.99
Impress with this fantastic Laurent Perrier Rose and Glasses gift box. Featuring a beautiful LP display case, the box comes with matching Laurent Perrier
branded glasses and a bottle of their finest Rose.
Impress with this fantastic Laurent Perrier Rose and Glasses gift box. Featuring a beautiful LP display case, the box comes with matching Laurent Perrier branded glasses and a bottle of their finest Rose.
Buy Now From Sendagift »
Prosecco & Valentines Bear Gift Pack – £25.99
This cute little set is guaranteed to make anyone smile. Packaged in a custom wood case featuring Bobby the Bear and his ‘Hugs & Kisses’ t-shirt, confetti hearts and plus an exceptional bottle of Senti Prosecco.
Wine like many crops around the world has its ups and downs. It is at its core a slave to the environment around it, a good technical hand can mitigate certain disasters, but if mother nature doesn’t want to play fair, it can cause havoc across the globe when it comes to both wine production and wine quality.
I sat down with our Buying Director Andrew Baker to discuss the year that just was, and what they expect in 2018. What should you be looking out for? Where should you be focusing your wine-buying pennies right now? Hopefully this little glance into the world of wine will help answer those questions.
Name a country that excelled in 2017:
South Africa, hands down. It was one of the most complete and compelling vintages in South Africa’s wine making history. It underpinned what I believe is a strong evolutionary path that is now firing on all cylinders. I travelled to South Africa last year and was blown away by the quality of the samples. South Africa now has the confidence and skill to make wines that are South African in style and nature, they no longer have to try and imitate European offerings. If you’ve yet to sample the delights of South Africa, I advise you get on board.
Give me one sentence for something you noticed last year:
Rising prices. It’s left certain regions more attractive than others… South Africa is really attractive, Europe a little less so.
Who did mother nature hit the worst:
There really were some terrible vintage yields in Europe, especially in France. This doesn’t imply better wine, just higher prices, my advice would be to shop around and shop smart. When I say it was hit by mother nature, I really mean it. We’re talking heavy frost at flowering, localised hail storms, heavy rain at harvest and some drought too.
Is Spain still regarded as the best value region:
I think it’s safe to say that Spain ells off it’s “best value wine in the world” perch. It still offers some absolutely delicious wines and we’re fortunate to work with so many incredible winemakers, but I don’t think it’s as clear now as it was at the start of the year.
Looking at 2018, which vintages are you excited about:
I’m really looking for Spain to get back on that perch, it has everything it needs to do it as well. I’m also hoping that Europe will recover in general, it’s seen tough vintages before and always bounced back and I think it’ll do the same again this year.
I also think that South Africa will have another incredible year. With reduced yield expected, but superb quality and maintained pricing, it’s the perfect place to get value for money in 2018.
I’m looking for Chile to come back into the fold too, and having suffered a couple of poorer vintages by their lofty standards.
I’m also excited to expand our own range, reaching across more borders than ever before. We want to include more esoteric wines, in terms of style and provenance, mainly because we see a bigger appetite for these wines with our customers. For example, we’re looking at Alpine wines – Austria, Jura, Savoie, Aosta, Alto and Adige.
2018 is going to be a very exciting years in the world of wine and for Virgin Wines in particular.
What if you could drink the blood of Hercules? Would it make you as strong as an ox? Would it make you the thing of legend? During our search across the Mediterranean for the tastiest tipples, we stumbled across a wine that was made from a grape nicknamed the “blood of Hercules” (or Heracles if you want to use the more traditional Greek spelling)
The grape in question was the Agiorgitiko grape, the most widely planted red grape in Greece. Traditionally grown in the Nemea region of Peloponnese, a peninsula in Southern Greece, this variety offers up a spicy taste with lashings of plum. It has a fantastic colour, but is relatively low in acidity.
So why is it called the blood of Hercules? Well according to legend, Hercules drank the wine either before or after (depending on legend) slaying the viscous Nemean lion. However it wasn’t just Hercules who had a taste for local Nemea Agiorgitiko, according to another legend king Agamemnon also favoured this variety before and after he commanded the unified Greek armed forces during the Trojan War.
The wine in question today is the Bizios Nemea Agiorgitiko 2011, originating from vines stretching 800 metres in altitude. This is beneficial for the Agiorgitiko grape because although it stands up to heat well, it benefits from being a little higher where it’s slightly cooler but warm enough to ensure the best ripeness. The grape is extremely versatile, and as a result it produces many different styles and varieties depending on where it’s grown the winemaker behind it.
Described by our wine-buyer, the Bizios Nemea is a wine with dense ripe black fruit intensity, perfectly integrated oak, a palate loaded with black cherry fruit, silky and mouth filling and astonishingly well balanced. Grown on an organically farmed single vineyard, this release from the village of Asporokambos on the southern island of Greece is planted at 800 meters altitude which allows the vines to relax in the cool of night and lends the wine exceptional purity and freshness. A great top-end red from a superb little estate.
“Deep, lustrous crimson. Correct, well-balanced, proper mature red. Bordeaux would surely be very pleased to have something like this to offer from the 2011 vintage. The merest hint of coconut but generally very fine. Spreads right across the palate. This tastes expensive!” June 2017, 17 Points. Jancis Robinson, Wine writer and critic.