All in a good cause – Wine Relief

For those who love the good things in life, it’s never been easier to support Comic Relief. You don’t need to bathe in baked beans. You don’t even have to don a squidgy nose. Just let yourself be tempted by some of over 120 and 10 per cent of the retail price goes to Wine Relief, the vinous arm of Comic Relief set up by the FT’s Jancis Robinson OBE and her restaurant critic husband Nick Lander back in 1999. Now in its fifth outing, it has already raised over £2 million.

This year the selection is more wide-ranging than ever, from cheap and cheerful to subtle and sophisticated. All the main supermarkets and wine specialists except Oddbins and Asda are involved.

And for those who want something that little bit unique, why not head to eBay and bid for bottles autographed by Ewan McGregor, Keira Knightly and Sir Alan Sugar?

For those eating out, Café Rouge has a pair of fine Laroche wines from the south of France, the fresh, appley Terret 2005, and the juicy ripe unoaked Grenache 2005.

But for those nights in, when you’re next doing your weekly shop or popping in your local offie, look out for the cheeky Wine Relief tags, and do your own bit of fundraising.

Majestic has circumnavigated the globe, from the superbly finessed Montes Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2005/6 from Chile (£6.49) to Marqués de Riscal’s refreshing Rueda Blanco 2004 (£5.99) and Philippe Zinck’s delightful Riesling (£6.49). On the reds, Ravenswood is a Californian legend never to pass by, so the sight of its Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel 2003/4 is welcome for those of us who enjoy big wines of character (£6.49), while a Crozes-Hermitage 2003 from Rhône’s most famous co-op, Cave de Tain- l’Hermitage (£6.99) will suit those looking for something a little more sedate.

Tesco has the biggest choice – over 30 wines – including the rich Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Chardonnay 2004 (£6.98), Tesco Finest Gavi (£5.99) for those wanting soemthing a little more citrussy, plus a Rawnsley Estate trio from the McGuigan winemaking dynasty in Australia’s Hunter Valley (all at £9.99).

Over the road in Waitrose, the choice ranges from the reliably thirstquenching Fetzer Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé 2005 (£5.99), to this year’s modish grape, Grüner Veltliner, in the competitively-priced Gobelsburger 2005 from Austria, to something refreshingly modern from Portugal in the shape of J-P Ramos’s Trincadeira 2004/5. And log on to www.waitrose.com to hear Jancis talk about her pick of the pops.

Meanwhile the good vintners at M&S have included the perky Pirque Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (£6.99), the charming Prosecco Raboso (£7.49), and a moreish Zamora Zinfandel 2005 (£6.99) among their clutch of fundraisers.

An octet of Fairtrade wines are on offer at Threshers (either £6.49 or £6.99). And, whether it’s a pineappley Chardonnay Viognier from Chile, a Cabernet Merlot from Argentina, or an intriguing Syrah Malbec from South Africa, the ‘buy two, get a third free’ mantra still works.

Not to be outdone, the Co-op has 18 wines on Wine Relief duty. For me, the Masterpeace Rosé is hard to beat any day (£4.79), but if you’re pushing the boat out, try the Co-op’s own Chablis (£7.99) and Chateauneuf-du-Pape (£9.99).

Sainsbury’s has decided to major on South Africa, since this is the focus for Comic Relief. So, alongside the ever popular Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz (both £4.49), you will find wines like the Beyerskloof Pinotage (£4.49) and Eaglevlei Merlot (£5.49).

Somerfield’s selection is wonderfully inviting, with two of Australia’s best producers on board, the innovative Brown Brothers, with its enjoyably juicy Tarrango, and mouthwatering Dry Muscat, and Leasingham, with its Magnus Riesling (£7.99) and Magnus Shiraz Cabernet (£7.99).

Meanwhile at Morrison’s, a pair of Fairtrade wines also feature (the Chardonnay Viognier 2006 again, and a Cabernet Carignan 2005, both at £5.79) while Codorniu brings on the bubbles, with its Teresa Brut Cava NV (£6.99).