How to buy the best European wine

How do you navigate the wine map of Europe to find new gems and some special surprises that aren’t generally on the radar yet – that Sunday lunch bottle that people will be asking you about for weeks? Here’s what we do ourselves when we’re buying, and it will work just as well for you.

wyfold 1. Give English Fizz a try Although it’s a great success story, lots of knowledgeable wine drinkers aren’t familiar with the amazing taste of English sparkling wines. Wyfold took first place at the 2013 Judgement of Parson’s Green. We’re confident that lovers of Champagne will be just as thrilled with Wyfold (and the new vintage is in stock now!) South Ridge and our very own Theale Vineyard Sparkling Chardonnay – grown outside the office in Theale – and you should be hailed a hero for letting them in on the secret! They may start to throw flower petals in your path.

2. Choose Spain For great-tasting whites between £8 – £15, it’s one of the most exciting countries to buy from nowadays. Yes, Spain! Yes, whites! Thanks to the enormous enthusiasm and relentless exploration of Laithwaite’s buyer Beth Willard, there is a pretty amazing selection of Albarino, Godello, Verdejo and Garnacha Blanca to stand proudly alongside the nation’s famous reds. Beth is to our Spanish wine range what Pep Guardiola was to Barcelona.

3. Don’t follow fashion Always one to zig when everyone else is zag-ing – Tony Laithwaite inspired his team to look to the largely neglected East. Some of the most exciting wine countries in the world are to be found behind what was the Iron Curtain – Georgia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. You heard it here first. Time for some more stamps in your wine passport?

4. Remember Portugal For three years, we were lucky enough to have Anne Forrest buying our Portuguese wines for us, and it was no surprise to me when we were voted Portuguese Retailer of the Year by the IWC in 2011. Now Anne lives in Oporto, and tips us off about the best bargains from the best producers. Try Brigando or Quinta da Porrais to see what great flavour you can get for your money. We’d love to hear your best tips for European wines – new or traditional?

About Laithwaites Wine

Laithwaite's began in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux... and fell in love with real wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share these delicious wines with friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that boutique wineries were soon queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from... including red, white and rosé, plus Champagne and sparkling, beer and cider.