Illustration by Daisy Leeson
Illustration: Daisy Leeson

Animus Red: £4.99 ALDI

Rowan’s tasting notes:

On the table: Pooling in pink oceans of ruined but usefully disposable waxed-paper tablecloths.

On the plate: A large margarita, with slightly charred edges and plenty of basil.

Pair with: Good company, that most rarefied mineral.

Score: 07936338082


By this point in the evening the paper table cloth is well and truly soiled. One corner shredded by my anxious claws; I can only hope that other people have the same penchant for shredding. The table is properly peppered, sincerely salted, and there is a fine helping of Parmesan marching between the candles.

This is truly a table wine, in that it covers most of the table. Buttresses and frontiers flowing around, desperately demonstrating to us that our ‘table’ is in fact several tables, jammed together.

I lower my head to the puddles, hair hanging forwards like curtains in an earthquake, reminding me that I really need a haircut. The 10,000th word in my wine reviews document passed without hinderance (congratulations Rowan!). And I slurp. There must be at least two glasses of regurgitated wine – spewed from overflowing glasses and overly plosive consonants. And this isn’t a wine to waste. The perfect table wine. No better from a glass than from a table cloth. You could drink this from a cupped pair of hands and genuinely enjoy the experience.

The night had thoroughly passed everyone else by, and we sat undisturbed beneath the lights of some church; proud that we alone had survived the sunset, the candles resting upon their laurels, spluttering in their cradles, surrounded by salted wax.

“Come on my lads. Let’s go!” I cried, flinging myself into a pixelated car – all rectangles and cylinders – and speeding off into the unrendered blackness of the electronic night.

This is a good wine, more than that. Far more.

This is a wine to drink, that it should drink you too. Swallowing its way down your throat. Perhaps you remember those tubular snake toy things that eluded us all as children (Cortana would like me to tell you that they are called “Squishy Water Wiggly Toys”). Imagine swallowing one of them, and feeling it coolly caterpillar tracking its way down your oesophagus.

You can taste those port grapes… sure. But this isn’t port; it hasn’t got the self-loathing, the vile sweetness, the nightmares. Although there is a subtle, voyeuristic ‘port-like’ flavour, polite and all that stuff. I am reminded of hot nights, flirting with the blinds in a small flat in Porto, the stuffy testosterone of an Air B & B of men. Uncooked pasta crackling underfoot… cereal (uncooked) too. Bottles of port make the glass tabletop barren. The taps spew out warm water.

Drinking this wine is a sport, like grabbing a hedgehog and holding it up. Staring it in the eye and licking the fluid from its quivering spines.

Sit back. Cradle the bowl of the glass in well washed hands. Remember that relaxation is nine tenths of the law. And now sit further back. See how far you can force your spine into the withering cushion of your chair. Feel it crack. You are truly relaxed.

Now drink.

Rowan Ireland

Rowan Ireland is The Oxford Blue's wine reviewer in exile. A fan of everything, Rowan wakes up with the dawn screaming, and enjoys long walks around his hometown on a remote mountainous island north of England. When he isn't writing wime reviews he can't be found.