The Ultimate Guide to Wine Drinking

Greetings from Chris Vino the Wine-Man

I can’t speak for all, but since you’re here on the Viva Vino blog I don’t think It’s a big-time risk to guess you’re a lot like me, Chris Vino the Wine Man, and enjoy a little tipple now and then.

In my case, a WHOLE lot more than a little.

And not only because of the lovely relaxed buzz a glass or two of good quality vino gives me and the good times it makes even better.
There’s also its history, its production, and the joy I get from being even a small part of the process. Offhand, I can’t think of a better way to make a living than being involved in something you love doing… and drinking.

Enter Viva Vino!

viva vino wine

How to Drink Quality Wine and Not Leave the House to get it

Setting up as a merchant, the first thing I asked was: “What can I offer that’s at least a bit different?”.

To my surprise the answer came easily in the form of another question I asked myself:

How about passing on your passion and experience for quality wine and your own experiences tracking down examples of it; while making the customer experience rewarding and hassle-free?

And that, in a nutshell, is what Viva Vino is all about… Sharing the understanding of wine I’ve won down the years with others and making sure shopping for it with us is a simple process our customers will want to repeat.

To start, do we really need an in-depth knowledge of the big wide world of wine just to be able to enjoy a glass every so often – or even sooner?

Answer… An emphatic NO.

Likewise, do we really need to spend ages scanning rows of supermarket shelves and run the risk of our tendons being severed by out of control shopping-trollies, driven by other wine lovers eager to stock-up and enjoy a glass – this, of course, before lugging our choices from checkout-to-car-boot and then from car-boot-to-home and the waiting wine-rack?

Answer… Another, even more emphatic, NO.

How to Wind Down With Minimum Effort the Viva Vino Way

No, this is not, as the chapter-heading suggests, advice meant solely for all you budding loners out there with a fear of open spaces but a love for the grape.

This is for those of you who love relaxing with a glass of the liquid delight that comes in the form of a zesty white, a full-bodied red, or a refreshing and chilled to the bone rosé.

But then again, as a friend who doesn’t like crowds or open spaces once asked me over a secure telephone number given only to me:

“Heh, Chris Vino the Wine-Man, how do I go about getting quality tipples I can trust without the hassle of leaving the house or ordering it by Internet from a supermarket – and then having to pay for bottles whose prices are rarely the same from day-to-day?”

Okay, okay; he didn’t call me, “Chris Vino the Wine-Man”…

Or even ask me the question, if you must know…

Alright, hands-up; if we’re going to be picky about this the guy didn’t even exist.

But it was a very good question anyway.

And, unlike supermarkets, Viva Vino prices ARE consistent.

The Easy Way to Enjoy Quality Wine

So, what’s the Viva Vino approach to hassle-free tippling?


Karen and her husband have stressful jobs and live outside Leicester in Great Glen. In their early-40’s they enjoy a few glasses of wine of an evening, as well as a few more at the weekend. Their problem is the end-of-the-week trip to the supermarket to re-stock when they’d rather head straight for home, sink into a sofa, and let the vino of their choice soothe away the week’s cares.


A case of six quality mixed wines of their choice – or chosen for them by yours truly (that’s me by the way: Chris Vino the Wine-Man) from either the Viva Vino “Jolly Good Box” option, or a case they’ve put together from our carefully chosen – and very well sampled – wine-list.

Six quality mixed wines that, more importantly, are delivered right to the door.

viva vino wine


This is 30-something James and his wife in Market Harborough; the problem here a bit different because the two of them are more social over the weekends and often have guests over to eat tasty food with great wines to help make the occasion and the conversation sparkle. Here, it’s not so much the hassle of getting hold of the wine – though that’s a factor – so much as James wanting to serve good quality wines but not having the knowledge as yet to choose them for himself.


An order placed with the Wine-Man for home delivery of a mixed box of twelve bottles; chosen with the same knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion, he applies to choose wines for himself.

The Easy Way to Save Money When Buying Wine

Coming soon – this year, in fact – quality wine will be sold in smaller – and cheaper – bottles; the idea being that, as quality wines are normally lingered over and served in smaller amounts, its better to not only give out less of it but to knock some money off the asking prices too.

We’ll have to wait and see if it’s as popular and money-saving as expected but, whether it is or not, Viva Vino has other ways for you to save hard-earned cash while still drinking quality wine.

Can I Trust Supermarket Prices?

I can only speak to wine – though I’m pretty sure supermarkets apply the same approach to most of their goods – so the answer is no.

Just ask yourself how often you’ve nipped into one and found a good bottle of what you fancy at a reasonable price. Only to find the next day or so when you fancy another that the price has been taken up a pound or more.

The supermarket way of tempting you to try a wine at a sensible price and giving you a taste for it, before then taking the price point up a few notches when you buy it again… And then repeating the process at regular intervals.

Buying Wine By the Case

We all know that bulk buying gets you a better deal (just ask supermarkets and their suppliers) and the same applies on a smaller scale when applied to those buying wine for pleasure. So, if possible, and a deal is available, ask Viva Vino about buying a wine you know and like by the case.

Even some supermarkets will discount for those wanting to buy in such a way, but the prices, discounted or not, will most likely vary downwards and then upwards by the day.

jolly good autumn box

Don’t Be Afraid to Buy the Inexpensive

Some of my favourite great value wines are from the New World, ranging from Australia to New Zealand, over to South Africa, and across to Argentina and Chile. Look closely – and especially with the Eastern European varieties found in the not so new world of Romania and Hungary – and you’ll discover some real joys at a price you’ll find just as much to your liking.

Joys Viva Vino is keen to showcase.

After a thorough sampling by the Wine-Man himself, of course!

Knowing Your Wine Regions

Just because the best examples of Rioja, for instance, are generally thought to come from La Rioja, the region of Northern Spain from which it takes its name, it doesn’t mean you can’t trust a bottle of the same from neighbouring Navarra, say – in fact, the direct opposite holds true if the popularity of the examples we stock and enjoy so much here at Viva Vino is a guide.

Knowing this, you can save yourself the hassle of research and transportation by simply going to the Viva Vino website where we pride ourselves on our regional knowledge.

You can either choose your own wines or check out the hand-chosen and easy on the pocket bottles found in one of our quality Jolly Good Box sets of six or twelve.

Sets the Wine-Man (me again) chooses with care and enthusiasm for events big and small as well as celebrations and gatherings of all kinds.

Expensive or Cheap Wine – What is the REAL Difference?

Can You Really Taste the Difference Between Cheaper Wine and More Expensive Bottles?

Yes and no.

Buy a bottle at £7.50 and one at £10?… Yes. Big difference.

Between £10 and £12?… A little less.

£12 to £15?… Less again.

£15 to £20?… Smaller still.

Then we reach £20 and above…

At this level, the differences between a £20 example and one ranging up to £50 and over are more about variations of labelling and reputation than the superiority of one bottle’s contents over another.

Taking the Taste Test

Try buying an expensive bottle and a cheaper bottle, hide the label by placing a brown bag over it – and not just the ugly one – pour some into two glasses and ask some friends with a taste for the grape to choose which is which.

The results – for wine experts as well as amateurs – have been very surprising.

Sommelier evaluating red wine.

Can Experts Be Trusted?

At the beginning of the millennium in 2001, a researcher from Bordeaux with a sense of humour conducted his own formal study of wine and its experts.

He asked 57 wine ‘connoisseurs’ to evaluate two glasses of red wine and opinions varied from descriptions of the wine as having a wonderful “jamminess”, and others waxing lyrical about the glorious sensation of “crushed red fruit”.

Unfortunately for the experts, our fun-loving researcher had neglected to tell them that both red wines were actually white wines tinted to look red.

So, can experts be trusted?

The Wine-Man’s answer is yes – so long as we remember they’re human and likely to drop a wally from time to time, just the same as the rest of us.

Easy Ways to Choose the Perfect Bottle of Wine

How do I Choose the Perfect Wine for an Occasion or Myself?

First off, let me tell you that the general directions in which our individual tastes take us are signposted by our own genes.

We can be non-sensitive tasters, average, or hyper-sensitive; our preferences defined for us by the number of the taste-buds on our tongues – so, if you were to imagine a circle the size of a hole-punch upon the tongue and then count the taste-buds found inside it, you’d pretty much have a guide to your own tastes when it comes to food and wine..

10-25% of us have less than 15 taste buds inside the area of the punch – these are the “Non-sensitive” tasters; 50-75% of us with 15-30 tastes buds in that same area are regarded as “Average” tasters; while the 10-25% in possession of over 30 buds are known as “Hyper-sensitive”.

Not helpful?… Stick with me…

If you’re in the Non-sensitive grouping then you handle spicy foods and the more bold and in-your-face flavours comfortably. Bitterness isn’t an issue because you’re simply unable to taste it. This means you can also take on and love the most intense wines of any region anywhere, from a full and creamy Chardonnay to a bold and full-bodied Pinotage.

Fall into the Average group?…

For my money, this is the best place to be if you’re a social drinker wanting to wind down or party. Bitterness won’t trouble you and neither will sweetness; which means the whole world of wine between a Chardonnay, say, and a Merlot is yours. In the Hyper-sensitive group, everything hits the tongue with intensity. This means you’ll be drawn towards smoother more delicate vinos. From fruity and zesty whites to medium and sensitive reds.

We’ll expand more upon all the above in future postings.

Amazing Facts About Wine

The Origins of Modern Wine

Monks, and not ancient Greeks or Armenians, deserve the credit for the evolution of the wines we know and love today. Orders like the Cistercians and Benedictines not only preserved, but innovated the art of winemaking through the Middle Ages, and it’s thanks to their research and honed efforts we now enjoy a variety of quality tipples unrivalled by any former period of history.


Are Blended Wines Better Than the Single Vine Variety?

If you think about the making of tomato soup, ask yourself if it would be as delicious without the onion in the cooking process.

So it is with the product of the winemaker if he/she can blend some grape varieties together to get a better tasting wine.

And it’s a process not confined only to blends.

A lot of supposedly single vine wines are blends but we just don’t know it, as each region sets a level of what other vines can be mixed in to produce a single example. For instance, French Sauvignon Blanc has to be 85% or more Sauvignon, but the other 15% can be made up of any other grape varietal.

How Are Wines Named?

There are no hard and fast rules, but one of the most famous examples is that of the world-renowned champagne, Dom Pérignon.

This favourite celebratory tipple of royalty and celebrities the world over was named after a monk by the name of Dom Pierre Pérignon.

dom perignon statue, Épernay, champagne region, france

Dom Pierre was also an early advocate for organic wine-making and experimented with new methods while successfully improving and refining the winemaking process.

In fact, so successful and ahead of his time was he, many of his practices and techniques are still used to this day.

More amazing facts and other subjects relative to this post will follow on the Viva Vino blog.

Chris Vino the Wine-Man