Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Singaporean listicle! In partnership with Asia Wine Network (AWN), I’m excited to announce that Wah So Shiok will be expanding its coverage to alcoholic drinks, in particular, wine and spirits. To kick things off, I’m shortlisting 5 affordable (sub-$50) wine bottles that you can get from AWN. Wine is often referred to as the drink of the Gods, but that doesn’t mean that us mere mortals (with our limited budget) can’t enjoy them!
This listicle will cover a range of wine varietals – 2 white wines, 2 red wines, and 1 sparkling wine. Aside from the sparkling, all bottles are screw cap wines, making them perfect grab-and-go bottles due to their convenience. You won’t have to buy a wine stopper, or require a bottle opener. In other words, even if you’re a complete beginner when it comes to wine, you can still enjoy them from the comfort of your own home with minimal fuss and without breaking the bank.
Without further ado, here are 5 affordable wine bottles that I’ve personally tried, loved, and would wholeheartedly recommend.
If you’re new to the world of white wine – or wines in general – then the Roche Mazet Chardonnay is a perfect way to start.
Wine Style: Medium bodied
Tasting Notes: Honey, pear, white flower, almond and vanilla. Aromatic, rich and well-rounded.
Recognitions: Gold – Gilbert & Gaillard
Food Pairing: Pan-fried Fish, Crab, Scallop, Shrimp, Laksa
My Opinion: What first struck me about the wine was how aromatic it was with its fresh floral notes. In terms of taste, I found the Roche Mazet Chardonnay to be a fairly accurate glass of Chardonnay. Fun fact: Chardonnay is the most popular white wine globally, so there’s a certain expectation in terms of taste. The Roche Mazet Chardonnay tastes as a Chardonnay should, with its fruity, flowery notes being a delight on the tongue. Its medium body also allows it to pair well with seafood, pasta, or even spicier food such as laksa, as the wine possesses enough “depth” to cut through the spiciness and refresh the palate. Overall, it’s a well-balanced glass of chardonnay that is good value at its price point, and is perhaps at its best as a dinner accompaniment.
For those uninitiated, Torrontes is a white grape varietal that is typically found in Argentina. If you’re looking for a lighter body white wine, consider the Finca El Camino Torrontes, which can be had as an alternative to the usual Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine Style: Light bodied
Tasting Notes: Fresh. Peach & Apricot. An Alternative To Sauvignon Blanc.
Food Pairing: Thai Spices, Curries, Poultry, Fish, Tofu
My Opinion: The Finca El Camino Torrontes emanates a sweet, floral scent that is (to my untrained nose at least) similar to a Moscato or Gewürtztraminer – I suspect Finca El Camino uses the more aromatic Torrontés Riojano grape varietal. Taste-wise, the Finca El Camino tastes almost like a dessert wine, with a pleasant sweetness that is balanced out by a citrusy tart finish. It’s also very smooth, and easy to drink. I think the Finca El Camino would be a great alternative for those that want a lighter-bodied white wine, but dislike the herbaceous taste of most Sauvignon Blancs. Those with a sweet tooth should also like this. While it’s possible to be paired with food, I found myself enjoying the Finca El Camino Torrontes best on its own, either as a glass to sip on while watching a movie, or as an aperitif before a meal. I really like this wine – I will definitely be making it a regular bottle in my wine rotation.
Moving on to red wines, I would recommend a Malbec (instead of the usual Shiraz/Merlot) for those looking for pairings with red meat. Good Malbec wines – such as the Finca El Camino Malbec – has an intense fruity flavour that work great with steaks.
Wine Style: Full bodied
Tasting Notes: Blackberries with Soft Spicy Notes. Savoury Tannins.
Food Pairing: Grilled Meat, Spicy sauces, Beef Stir-Fry
My Opinion: The Finca El Camino Malbec has scents of cherries and plums, though it is not as aromatic as the Torrontes. In terms of taste, the flavour is deep and intense, as a good bottle of Malbec should. One can clearly taste berries, and the wine starts off strong – it permeates and coats the entire mouth – but has a pleasantly sweet finish. The tannins are savory, and thus on a whole the wine is very drinkable, even on its own. However, it pairs best with food due to its full-bodied nature. I found that pairing the Finca El Camino Malbec with steaks, beef burgers, BBQ, or stronger tomato-based pastas such as meatball bolognese elevates the overall food experience, enhancing the natural smokiness of the food. If I’m having red or grilled meats, this is the bottle I reach for.
If the Malbec is too strong and full-bodied for you, consider something lighter like the Roche Mazet Cabernet Sauvignon instead!
Wine Style: Medium Bodied Red
Tasting Notes: Blackcurrent. Cherry. Vanilla. Smooth & Balanced.
Recognitions: Gold – Gilbert & Gaillard, Silver – China Wine & Spirits Awards ‘Best Value’, 87pts – Decanter
Food Pairing: Burger, Red Meat, Chicken Rice
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
My Opinion: If you’re new to red wines – or wines in general – then the aforementioned Finca El Camino Malbec may be a tad overwhelming to drink. The Roche Mazet Cabernet Sauvignon is also more aromatic, with its fruity scent hitting the nose instantly. The wine tastes of blackberries and cherries, with spicy notes and a smoky finish. There’s an underlying vanilla-like sweetness as well. It’s smooth with little tannins, and thus eminently drinkable. For those that prefer a lighter style red wine, this is a great option. In addition, it’s versatile, great for pairing with meaty foods, but also perfectly drinkable on its own. I found myself turning to the Roche Mazet Cabernet Sauvignon on cold, rainy nights – the wine goes straight down my throat and warms my soul.
For those looking for sparkling wine, why not consider a Spumante, specifically an Italian Blanc de Blancs (which translates literally to white from white) from Tintoretto?
Wine Style: Sparkling
Tasting Notes: Hints of Bread. Orange & Lemons. Fresh!
Food Pairing: Fish & Chips, Calamari, Smoked Fish but also Fried Chicken and French Fries
My Opinion: In terms of smell, the Tintoretto Blanc de Blancs has a sweet, fruity scent similar to the Finco El Camino Torrontes, though it comes across sharper here. From a taste standpoint, the wine is tart and citrusy, with its freshness cleansing the palate well. Unlike Moscato, it is a rather dry wine, and thus nowhere as cloyingly sweet. As compared to Prosecco and Champagne, I found the Tintoretto Blanc de Blancs to be easier to drink – I can see myself downing glass after glass of this, which I can’t say the same for Moet Champagne, for example. And while AWN states that it can be paired with food like fish and chips, I found that it works best as either an aperitif, or simply a nice treat for oneself after a long day at work. After all, there’s no bad time to have a glass of bubbles.
That wraps my first listicle on affordable wine bottles! I’m extremely excited to branch out into wines and spirits. I’m personally a regular drinker – most writers tend to be fond of alcohol – and it’s fun to be able to incorporate my passion into my professional work. I know that some of you might think wines and spirits are a stark departure from the regular menswear items I cover, but I feel they are complementary goods. If you’re a gentleman who’s into watches, tailored suits, custom leather shoes, etc, then you possess a taste for the finer things in life. And if so, it’s highly likely that you would enjoy a fine bottle of wine, or a shot of artisanal spirit. In addition, after doing some digging, I realised that there isn’t much information and guides about wines and spirits, at least locally or at the layman’s level. Sure, there are professional reviews, but those articles tend to use terms that only sommeliers would understand. Like a Swiss watch, or a custom suit, wines are sometimes viewed as “atas”, confusing, incomprehensible. Loads of Singaporeans drink wine, but few know what they are drinking. Through a series of articles – in collaboration with Asia Wine Network – I hope to educate my readers about the basics of wine, and highlight the fact that good wine doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.
For those interested in purchasing any of the abovementioned wines, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Asia Wine Network’s web-store. After the discount, the wines can be had for around $40, which makes them great value-for-money. That’s about NTUC/Cold Storage pricing, but the quality on offer here is definitely a step higher. AWN also offer free delivery for orders above $150, which is fairly reasonable. I usually order about 4 bottles of wines from AWN on a monthly basis – a little inebriation aids my writing – which hits the free delivery requirement fairly easily. And if you’re on a uber-tight budget, AWN also has a fantastic selection of wines at bargain promotional prices here – I personally recommend the Eguren Ugarte Kame Muscat and the Bodegas Salentein Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay, which are steals at just $19. No matter your budget or your preferences, AWN has a wide variety of unique wines for you to choose from.
View the full range of Asia Wine Network’s offerings here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.