On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, it seems inconceivable that while the Sun was gloating Gotcha!, few souls in Argentina gave the malbec grape so much as a second look. It was known as the uva francesa, the French grape, and mostly used for blending into above average plonk. Robert Mondavi-inspired visionaries like Nicolás Catena had cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay on the brain, while the overseas investors who today populate the Argentinian wine industry only piled in in the late 1980s.
Independent Christmas Food & Drink Special
Best party budget red
2007 Torre del Falco Nero di Troia, Puglia, Italy
This distinctively bright and spicy and rosso made from Puglia’s Nero di Troia grape shows a sweetly juicy dark berry fruit quality with a sinewy feel and vivid freshness. £4.99, down from £7.99, until 6 December, Waitrose.
Best party red
2010 Viñalba Cabernet Malbec Merlot
Sake is the traditional drink of Japan, wine the new kid on the block. While there’s no immediate link between the grape and the rice grain, many of the values relating to sake are similar to those associated with wine. Like wine, the character of sake is determined by a number of factors including climate, location, variety of rice and the philosophy of the (often family) producer.
Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais. My first editor assumed, and so therefore did I, that this was the holy trinity of Bs at whose altar the Indy wine reader would sip and worship. And so it was until the New World cocked an irreverent Life of Brian snook at the French, using the same grapes but undercutting the frogs on price.
It might make members of the House fidget in their seats, but for all but Tower Hamlets Council, which has banned Guy Fawkes, the idea of blowing up the Houses of Parliament brings a little wistfully anarchic glee into our lives. There’s nothing like a sparkler to get you into the mood for, er, sparklers and the like, and so if you don’t want to push the boat out too far on bonfire night, Marks & Spencer’s Sparkling Burgundy NV, £11.99, will give you a biscuity, weighty and richly mouthfilling fizz at an affordable price.