Dare to be adventurous | pushing your wine boundaries

The guest author for this article is Fred Clelland, creator of ‘Wined Your Neck In’. His wine blog aims to cut through the complexities of wine, making it more relatable to you.

‘Groundhog Day’ must have had more verbal airtime the past year than any other year since its release. Rarely does a day pass without it being mentioned, at least in my social circles. For those who forcibly isolated themselves from pop culture over the past 30 years, or anyone born in this millennium, the essence of the film is that some poor sod relives the same day over and over again. We have of course all played out our own ‘Groundhog Day’ (albeit significantly less dramatised for most) owing to lockdown and its accompanying ability to ensure incessant repetition has become a staple of our lives.

For some this proved serendipitous, providing greater structure, less hectic calendars, more time with the family. For many it has driven us to unfathomable realms of monotony and boredom. Initially, I found the lack of commuting and structured homebound routine immensely enjoyable. A mere couple of months ago, I would have thought it inconceivable that I’d now be longing for an unquestionably disrupted, anxiety-inducing ride on the Northern Line to be at the epicentre of my truest desires – but here we are.

Anything to have broken the continuous staring at house plants, and the ethereal feeling that sometimes they were even staring back. To have fragmented the perpetually prosaic nature that became of our lives. The same lunch. The same quiz (thanks Jill for insisting we do that every Friday). The unrelenting desire to make improvements to every bit of our homes but never actually do anything about it. Cleaning to the point of insanity (using a cheese knife to get dirt out of the crevasses of our wooden floorboards had to be my lowest point…).

Yet with so much spare time, this stale continuation of events seeped into the choices we would make. We were literally granted access to never before explored pockets of time. And how did we spend it? Picking the same crap! (Well, I did at least…). It was as if, since no actionable change was occurring in our day-to-day lives, then why bother changing anything else?

But now more so than ever we need to mix it up a little. And what better way than doing so through the medium of imbibing wine. Everyone has their favourites when it comes to wine – you cannot be blamed for that! There is so much variety out there though, that maybe we should start pushing the boundaries.

Put down the classic Bordeaux blend and dip a toe into a punchy Chilean syrah (don’t actually put your toe in it - just drink it like a normal person, through your mouth). Bench the New Zealand sauvignon blanc and throw yourself into a crisp albariño (again – please don’t actually throw yourself into it – what a waste of wine that’d be). I can understand the tentativeness you may hold when venturing into new wines – nothing derails an evening more than a malignant bottle of wine, but these are vetted top shelf selections from regions or varietals you may not have tried, yet must get into.

Stanlake Park, Regatta Whilst English wine of the sparkling variety is having its day in the sun, dry white wines of our very land are yet to get their just rewards. A travesty when you consider the likes of this wine from Stanlake Park exist. Named after the Henley Regatta - not because of its ability to induce a crippling, regret-ridden hangover (unless you decide to put away numerous bottles of the stuff) - but due to the vineyard’s proximity to the annual rowing spectacle. If you are a pinot grigio fan, then pop an oar into this. Plus, at under a tenner, it’s unbelievably good value. Sumpai Syrah, Kalfu Despite the climate being more than favourable to the cultivation of syrah, it is only in the last decade that this staple Rhône varietal has started taking off in Chile. This corker from the Leyda Valley is akin to how I like all my red wines to be: big, bold and luscious. And with popularity rapidly on the rise, anchor yourself into a few of these ASAP before everyone else catches the South American wind. Garden Vineyards Rosé, DeMorgenzon Don’t be put off by the ‘Stranger Things’-esque name of this producer. The only thing otherworldly about this wine is the coalescence of flavours. A syrah, grenache, mourvèdre blend, common of Southern France, which has proven to thrive on this South African terroir. Prominent red fruits, but with floral and spicy complexity also. Pairs great with a second bottle (please drink responsibly…). Akemi Viura Rioja This wine offers an eclectic mezze of ingredients that culminate in a bottle so mesmeric you’ll be waxing romantic about it for years to come. A white wine from the world-renowned region of Rioja (of course known more so for its reds), selected by sushi savant Félix Jiménez, and with a name that means “brightness and beauty” in Japanese. That is some boundary pushing you have got to be part of! Laureatus Albariño - Galicia Rias Baixas

If you like sauvignon blanc, then sink your incisors into this. In my opinion, albariño is fresher and crisper. Think of the taste in the air as you pass a freshly mown lawn (just without the actual grassy bits in your grill, because that would be a bad time). What more do you need to break the stale mould of the past few months than tonnes of new wine?!