Skip the long-haul flight and bring the bliss of a European holiday to your own home with these well-travelled wines.
Are your social feeds full of friends sipping sangria in Spain, clinking Champagne flutes in France or popping prosecco on the Italian riviera? If a European summer escape feels out of the question this winter (thank you, mortgage repayments), stop scrolling and start strolling to your local First Choice Liquor Market instead. Drop into the deli or bakery on the way home and you can conjure up that cruisy Euro vibe without the annoying airport queues, expensive hotels or a credit-card meltdown.
First stop on your faux holiday is France – land of foie gras, frites and, of course, fromage (aka goose liver pâté, chips and cheese). We suggest you start your taste travels with a brie or camembert, served at room temperature with freshly sliced baguette and a glass of Royal Montcourt Grande Cuvee Brut NV. This Champagne has zesty apple and grapefruit notes and subtle toasty flavours that will cut through the buttery richness of the soft cheese.
For the main course, the fresh berry flavours and velvety mouthfeel of Chateau Latour Camblanes Bordeaux complements a classic cassoulet (a traditional meat and white bean stew). Or if you’re going for fish, team it with a traditional beurre blanc (white wine sauce) made and served with the delicate floral notes of La Promesse Loire Sauvignon Blanc. Both the wine and the sauce hail from the Loire Valley, making this pairing as spot on as a Parisian’s fashion sense.
Sure, you could be propping up a bar in Barcelona or sipping sangria in Seville but enjoying a home-made Spanish-inspired meal is one way to forget your FOMO. Plus, you won’t have to wait until 9-10pm when most Spaniards finally head out for dinner.
So, line up some Alejandro Sanz or Julio Iglesias on your playlist and invite your other land-locked friends over for a flavour-filled feast. Fill colourful ceramic bowls with a selection of tapas – snack-sized dishes such as marinated olives, meatballs, fried chorizo, calamari, jamón (cured ham) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes) – or whip up a spicy paella. Then fill your glasses with Aradon Rioja. The ripe berry and plum flavours of this classic Spanish red made with tempranillo grapes will have you grabbing the castanets and clicking your heels in no time.
Unlike Audrey Hepburn’s character in the classic 1953 film Roman Holiday, your chances of falling in love in the Italian capital are much less likely than being targeted by one of the city’s notorious pickpockets. But, you will fall head over heels with the wine and food! Fortunately, the Aussie-Italo cuisine game is strong, so you can now enjoy a taste of Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily or Tuscany without a boarding pass (or losing your credit card).
Start by styling your table with a classic checked tablecloth, a rustic candle and fresh flowers or herbs from the garden styled in reused tomato cans to create that traditional trattoria vibe. Next, amp up the authenticity by making your own gnocchi or fettuccine from scratch. Or you can just open a packet – it’s your holiday, so you do you.
The sauce can be as simple as a few dollops of basil pesto or as rich and complex as a slow-cooked ragu. Serve with sliced ciabatta and a simple salad of rocket, parmesan and balsamic vinegar. Then turn up the heating and imagine you’re dining in a picturesque piazza on a warm summer’s night.
You could toast your pasta-making prowess with one of many Italian wine varieties, such as pinot grigio, sangiovese, fiano or nebbiolo, but we suggest you kick off with one of the most popular sparkling wines of the moment – prosecco. Brilla Prosecco hails from the Veneto region of Italy and is fresh and light on the palate, with hints of peach and green apple. Finally, post a selfie and #salute – that should totally confuse your jet-setting friends!