As the Australian wine connoisseur Len Evans so wisely said, “you can only have so many bottles in your life. Never drink a bad one”. Although I firmly believe that when it comes to wine the emphasis ought to be more upon the drinking than the tasting, I draw the line at paying £6 for “expense-shredder’s finest red” (It’s always a clue when a wine omits both the country and the grape from the label).

I’m quite sure such wines provide the loosening of inhibitions necessary for a promiscuous night out. However, the sheer determination required to actually finish a bottle begs a level of concentration I am simply not willing to provide when embarking on the quest for relaxation. With this in mind and a devoted group of self-proclaimed experts in tow, I went in search of five reasonably-priced ways to enhance your pre-drinking experience.

2009 Neblina Carmenere, Valle Central, Chile (13%; £3.99 each for two, Majestic). Soft and sweet. Good if you’re looking for something slightly different. Excellent strawpedoed.

2009 Southbank Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (13%; £5.49 each for two, Majestic) “Classic Marlborough Sauvignon. Ripe gooseberries, Granny Smith apples and freshly mown grass on the nose are followed by the crisp, clean acidity and refreshing finish on the palate that are the hallmark of this variety. Excellent with seafood and goat’s cheese.” (Majestic) Grass seemed a little fanciful, although by the second bottle we were coming round to the idea.

2005 Rioja Reserva Marqués de la Concordia (13.5%; £6.49 each for two, Majestic) Dark fruit, cedar and spice. Festive stuff perhaps even good enough to help you survive the ghastly ex-flatmate Christmas dinner you were bullied into attending.

2006 Familae Piccini Chianti Reserva (13%; £5.49 was £10.99, Sainsbury’s, offer ends 15/12/09) Rich and fruity. Good with lamb. A bottle for that Sunday roast with the housemates, perhaps?

2008 Marquis de Pennautier Viognier, Vin de Pays d’Oc (13%; £4.99 each for two, Majestic) Grapefruit and apricots. Crisp and fresh.

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