I think that there is still a small measure of snobbery in the wine world, and navigating the wine aisle can still be tricky to those who are unsure, or not confident. I Heart Wines is a fun modern brand, that focuses on a fresh and simple approach to bring great wine at an affordable price to people who want to enjoy wine, without being experts. The brand labels its wines by variety, rather than region, the thinking being that if you like once type of grape from one region, you will like that grape from another region. Looking at wine from a varietal, rather than regional perspective, has been around for some years now, and I Heart Wines make it really really simple.
I tasted a selection with my mother, and we greatly enjoyed all of them. The Shiraz was South African and the other three were from Hungary – all 4 wines were pretty much text book examples of what the varieties should taste like – easy drinking and certainly not too challenging.
The big surprise was their Merlot – my mother had stopped buying Merlot as she invariably felt that she did not enjoy it as much as other grapes – but this one was delicious, soft, smooth and packed with plums and raspberry notes – so much so that she bought a few more bottles when finding it on offer in the supermarket. The Sauvignon was probably the weakest – but impressed the next day after having been open overnight and drink not so chilled.
These are everyday wines, but importantly good examples which are not going to disappoint. If you carefully sipped your way through the range, taking note of the tasting notes on the bottle and far more extensive notes on the I Heart Wines website, you would gain enough knowledge to confidently select other wine, navigate a restaurant wine list and chat to the sommelier in a restaurant.
I Heart wines available at the major (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons) supermarkets and smaller convenience stores. Around £5 – £6 a bottle for the wines.
My cousin, Lucy and her husband, are far better qualified to review beer than I, and they reviewed Beer 52 for me back in November last year. They were delighted to receive another box.
Beer 52 is a craft beer club, which delivers a box of 8 different small batch beers for £24 a month. The beer arrived well packaged, along with a copy of Ferment magazine.
Heart and Soul, Session IPA, 4.4%
This had a noticeably “zesty nose” and an aroma that was very promising. A very fruity taste with a bitter, harsh edginess and lots of punch although the promising aroma was lost on the taste! I found this beer very refreshing and really liked it but this impression was not shared by my fellow reviewer.
Lucky Jack, American Pale Ale, 4.7%
This came in a can and was slightly cloudy in appearance when poured. It had a fairly sharp aroma. The taste was nutty and rounded and spread out all over the tongue, lingering at the back of the mouth. We felt that this could possibly be good with cheese although we didn’t have cheese to hand for an actual trial.
Cloudwater, Session IPA, 3.5%
Summer range. Another cloudy one once poured but no mention of it being “live” in the bottle – perhaps a clue is in its name!?! This had a pleasant slightly yeasty smell. It fizzes on the tongue and seemed quite gassy. There was a hint of ……?, could it have been almonds? Something familiar but I just couldn’t identify what!!!! Definitely a bitter (not sweet) and obviously wheaty too.
Bronher, The Drunk Hop, 4.7%
Clear – sparkling even and zesty too! This had a pleasant sweet aftertaste with a chewier flavour brought on by the extra malts which are apparent in the taste.
Mead, Gosnells, London 5.5%
We liked this very much. It was sweet of course with its zingy honey aroma and taste this was utterly refreshing. A very welcome alternative to cider.
Hop Classic, 6° North, 6.6%
A great beer for those who truly like a very bitter beer. The bitterness hits out all round the edge of the tongue. It was a little too bitter for both of us.
This had a good clean taste. Its extreme fizziness made it very refreshing along with the bitter malt taste which faded in the mouth quickly. Very enjoyable.
Dark Sister, 6.6%
The flavour sat flat on the tongue. It has a very full stout-like taste making the category (Indian Pale Ale) misleading. You do indeed get a gob full of flavour with this one which we liked very much.
Our overall favourite was Caterpillar, although Dark Sister sat very closely behind it. The mead was a star with us too however and would be a very respectable replacement for any decent cider on a hot day.
Beer 52 have offered Fuss Free Flavours readers a £10 discount on a case – simply order and quote discount code FUSSFREE10.
Many thanks to I Heart Wines & Beer52 for the samples. All opinions are our own. and we were not required to write a positive review.