Warming fruity wines to see off the winter blues

Viña Indomita Gran Reserva Carignan, Maule Valley Chile, 2019 (£8, The Co-op) If some of us have been persuaded of the merits of treating January as an experiment in abstinence (up to 6.5m, or one in five UK adults, according to a poll taken before last year’s ‘Dry January’ campaign), there are many more who would make a convincing case for the opposite course of action. I’m not advocating that everyone maintains Christmas-level tippling every day and night past New Year’s Eve. But there is a reasonable line of thinking that says that this dark, cold, skint time of year may not be the best moment to deprive ourselves of one of life’s simpler pleasures. Moderation may be a more effective route to long-term healthy drinking, allowing us to lift our spirits with a glass or two of a moderately priced, delicious southern-sun filled red such as Indomita’s.

Tesco Finest GSM, McLaren Vale Australia, 2017 (£9, Tesco) Chile remains one of the most reliable sources of inexpensive red wines of the softly textured kind that are the antidote to seasonal dankness – the sort that works as well on the sofa as it does at the table, such as Morrisons The Best Chilean Carmenère 2020 (£6.50), which makes it a good match for pizza. Also doing the job in the very specific category of ‘wines for TV and takeaway’ is the perfumed malbec from Argentina. Aldi Argentinian Malbec, Mendoza 2020 (£5.79) is one of the best-value versions of the style. Australia, too, has its way with the fruity, warming genre, although the best of the Down Under supermarket bunch tends to come seasoned with a lick of peppery spice, such as Tesco’s ever-excellent blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro.

Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou, IGP Pays d’Oc France, 2019 (£25.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants) The GSM blend based on grenache and/or shiraz plus mataro and others is the base of many of Australia’s finest reds. But its origins are in southern France, producing wines that can feel like a transfusion of mood-boosting sunlight at this time of year. You can get some of that Mediterranean hillside feel in bottles from the Languedoc, such as Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Saint-Chinian (£9), or from the Rhône Valley, such as Marks & Spencer’s superb Les Closiers Lirac 2019 (£10). That’s true, too, of the latest vintage of one of my favourite wines from one of my favourite Languedoc producers. The darkly concentrated, blackberry, black olive, pepper and rosemary of Domaine Gayda’s Chemin de Mouscou, served with roast lamb, is my prescription for seeing off the winter blues.