Favourite Alcoholic Beverages

  • Wines
  • Wyndham Estate Shiraz, Bin 555 (Australia) - my favourite red, though I haven't had it in ages, so my tastes may have changed by now.
  • MAN vintners Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa) - currently on special at my local wine shop. Lovely.
  • Starve Dog Lane Shiraz (Australia, 2003) - we spluged (£13) on this one for a special anniversary dinner. It didn't disappoint.
  • Marques de Villa White (I think it said Malvasia-Toro, but I may be confused) (Spain) - this one's dirt cheap and very drinkable. It's what I cook with and enjoy a nice glass while I'm cooking.
  • Cheeky Little Ed's Grenache/Syrah (France!, 2000 I thought it was Australia) - This was one of the better reds I bought on special at my local wine shop. I'll be picking up some more at the regular price I liked it so much.
  • Jacob's Creek, any - the ones I've tried have all been nice.
  • Co-operative winery Robolas (Greece, Kefalonia) - all of the robola wines from this winery were nice, though the Bio-Robola sticks out in my memory. I had the pleasure of visiting the winery myself for a tasting.
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia) - I've tried this a few times, but don't remember it all that clearly
  • I will list some Canadian wines (Okanagan Valley) when I finally get around to remembering what they're like. I remember liking a few of them, but they're a distant memory now.
  • I've also heard great things about white Riojas (I didn't even know they existed until a few weeks ago). I'm dying to try one.
  • Cinque Terran white wine - this stuff is heaven. Light, fruity, crisp. It is not distributed worldwide, as it's made by small co-operative wineries, but it is fabulous. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't just because I was on a balcony of a small, friendy trattoria overlooking the Italian Riviera at the time.
  • Macon Village Chardonnay (France) - creamy and smooth, this was the perfect accompaniment to my New Year's Eve dinner of smoked fish pie (like a shephard's pie, but with fish). This changed my mind about oaked chardonnay.
  • Wines - Dishonorable Mention(s)
  • Any chardonnay I've tried to date. I just don't enjoy the taste, though I'll keep an open mind in case I come across one that's nice. I have to revise this to only the heavily oaky chardonnays. I will drink an oaked chardonnay if it's done judiciously, and doesn't taste like a tree infusion.
  • Tesco's Soave. Watery and uninteresting, I find this wine to be a bit of a waste. If you want a cheap white, the Marques the Villa listed above is much nicer.
  • Beers
  • Leffe - Belgian lager, quite strong, a bit sweet and served in a kind of wine glass. Lovely and a bit girly (but that's okay since I'm a girl). My favourite beer. It comes in blonde, brun, and one with a red label. The blonde and brown are fabulous, but I'm not enamoured of the red.
  • Duvel - Another Belgian, even stronger than the Leffe. It'll knock ya flat.
  • Hoegaarden - Belgian white beer. Nice.
  • Orval - I tried this one last night (thanks to cramoukji's suggestion), and was very pleased. Another Belgian (I think they're rapidly becoming my favourite), this one's aroma was distinct; neither hopsy nor yeasty, it was more of a light perfume. The taste was light but flavourful, very elegant. I really enjoyed this one. I tried the Chimay blue label as well, but found it to be quite a bit heavier than the Orval, and just too strong for me at 9%.
  • Red Stripe - Jamaican lager, perfect for drinking at concerts when you risk spilling a pint and have to drink out of a can. It's still a nice lager (from someone who ordinarily isn't fond of them), and tastes like live music to me.
  • Boddington's - but only if it's cask-pulled.
  • Joseph Holt's 1849 - This one is nothing special actually; a dark, slightly fizzy bitter-style beer. But it's cheap and it's my favourite at my local pub which doesn't have a huge selection.
  • John Smith's bitter - a never-fail bitter if I'm not feeling adventurous
  • Banks's bitter - Another one commonly available and always a safe bet
  • Various guest ales around various pubs - Occasionally you'll come across one that just isn't for you, but not often. I find after half the pint, your taste buds grow accustomed to the new taste, and delight in its complexities.
  • Granville Island Maple Cream Ale - Oops. I had this one down as Sleeman's, and it's not. I never drank much Canadian beer, as I thought I wasn't a fan of beer. But this one is lovely, and even lovelier now that I've developed a palate for beer.
  • Sleeman's Honey Brown Ale - When I discovered a bar in Manchester that has this beer on tap, I immediately phoned my only Canadian friend here, who would have hopped the bus right then to join me for one if circumstances had allowed.
  • Not my favourites at all, but get a mention here for being popular among my friends:
  • Kronenburg 1449 - strong lager usually preferred over Stella
  • Stella Artois - the other strong lager
  • Guinness - regular, not extra cold. Perfect for the long, cold Manchester winter. Cozy up in a pub and feel comforted with this drink in front of you. Also good when you're feeling low on iron. (I'm serious).
  • Kriek (thanks cramoukji for reminding me) - a Belgian cherry beer that's quite sweet and very tasty. A bit much to have more than one or two, though.
  • Amstel - best in Amsterdam, where they serve it in small elegant glasses (unless you ask for a large one). Living in the land of the pint, I was glad to have a nice-tasting beer in a volume that felt reasonable - doesn't go warm or flat by the time you finish. Well, by the time I finish; I think most English lads will finish their pint of lager long before that happens.
  • Augustiner beers (regular, dunkel, weissbier) - the best of all the German beers I tried (in Munich), these keep me coming back for more. The wheat beer is nice to sip in the daytime, but at night I switched to the litre of dunkel.
  • Hofbrau beers (also in regular, dunkel and weissbier) - not as nice as the Austiner, but still nicer than most beers you get in North America. It is German after all, and they do good beer.
  • Mixed drinks
  • Whisky sour - ohhhh, I'd give my left arm for a whisky sour. I've not found one in England.
  • Caesar - yes, the clamato drink. I'd give my right arm for one of these. Though I have a great deal of difficulty convincing my English friends that a fish-based beverage can be very tasty. The spicier, the better, and garnished with a spicy pickled green bean.
  • Gin & tonic - refreshing and crisp, perfect for a hot day.
  • Amaretto sour - nice, but not as good as a whisky sour.
  • Pimm's - I tried this for the first time last summer. Typically English, it's nice and refreshing and very summery with all the fruit in it.
  • Malibu and Coke - tasty, but too sweet to drink too many of
  • Martini, medium dry, stirred not shaken and served in a chilled glass with 3 olives - just one of these gets me a bit tipsy.
  • Coffee with Bailey's - traditionally a drink to be had on New Year's morning. What a way to start the new year!
  • Mimosa - for special occasion mornings like weddings, New Years, etc. Luxury.
  • Guinness and Tia Maria - great if you're looking for a dessert-type drink. I can only handle one, though, and even that's a bit much by the end.
  • Cheeky Vimto (blue WKD with a shot of port) - Tastes just like vimto, but with a kick that I felt very rapidly. Dangerous.
  • Kir Royale (champagne & creme de cassis) - very tasty, but way overpriced at the place I had it.
  • Miscellaneous
  • Grower's Apple Lime Cider - The lime cuts through the sweetness of the apple, and makes for an incredibly refreshing drink. My favourite to sip at barbeques on a hot summer day.
Author Comments: 

I'm obviously no wine connoisseur, but I try what I can, and am getting more discerning as I get older.

The rest I consider myself a little more knowledgable about from experience. I'm actually not a huge drinker, so I'm quite surprised to see how long this list is. Yikes.

Yes, Duvel is a very strong beer... not the strongest you could find in Belgium, mind you... I personally don't enjoy it very much and Duvel is basically drank in the north part of the country, the ducth-speaking community... in the south french-speaking part, we tend to favor strong brown beers such as the world-famous (and unique) trappist beers who have been brewed for centuries by monks in abbeys following old secret recipes... in that regard you may, if you can find some wherever you are in the world, want to try these following beers: Chimay (blue label rather than red or white), Orval or Rochefort (10 label rather than 8 or 6)... and do not hesitate to take time to try Brussels traditional beers such as Lambiek (a sweet-sour non-sparkling lager-like beer), Faro (Lambiek with added sugar cane) and Kriek (Lambiek with added cherries)... these last two are considered "girly"... ah yes, do not ever say to a man drinking Leffe that his beer is girly, it's not considered that way in Belgium... Leffe is a bit "upper-class" if you will but certainly not "girly"... if you have any other questions about belgian beer, I'll be at your service... thank you.

Brilliant, thanks for your suggestions! Off the top of my head, I know that Chimay (though I think I remember the red label), Orval, Lambiek and Kriek are all readily available where I am (England). I've tried the Kriek, and it's very nice - I may have to add it to my list. Quite sweet, though, and not something I'd commit to for the evening (one or two max). In any case, I will be passing by my local Carrington's, and will see what I can pick up from your list to try.

And as for Leffe being girly, I don't think it should be considered that way, but, well, I'm in England. They consider gin & tonic girly. But then, I catch men drinking Smirnoff Ice, which I consider girlier than any drink I've listed. Backward.

I'm honored I could help... and yes, you would find belgian beers rather easily in Britain... though of course Britain has its own "beer culture" well worth exploring... and yes, I agree that all those "alcopops" are outrageously "un-male" =p

Cramoukji, I'm resurrecting this so I can ask you a question. How do you pronounce "Leffe"? I've always said LEFF-ay, but I've heard it pronounced simply LEFF. Who is right, or is there some third option that I haven't heard yet?

It's the name of an old belgian village where there's an abbey whose monks supposedly brewed beer in the olden days (but that's only a promotional 60-year old lie contrary to Chimay, orval, Rochefort and the three other genuine Trappist beers)... the village is located in the french-speaking half of Belgium so its name is pronounced in a french way... I am afraid you didn't pronounce it correctly before... yes, you should completely forget about the final "e" and simply say LEFF.

Ah, thank you. I stand corrected. Traditional Trappist beer or not, I still love it.

I was down in Rugby (Midlands, near Birmingham) a few weeks ago, and discovered Chimay and Rochefort are available in my favourite pub! I expect to find contintental beers in shops, but pubs tend to be quite limited in their selection. The Rochefort they had there was 11.2%, but my local wine/beer merchants also carries weaker ones.

Rochefort blue label is the strongest of the trappist beers... and yes, Leffe beer is highly enjoyable... of a comparable nature, if you find some, you might want to try Maredsous beers or Grimbergen beers (the latter, by the way, are being brewed in my town -ah ah, he affirms proudily)...

Thank you! Duly noted and tucked away into my wallet for future reference.