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Wine: Cold warriors

During the recent australian heatwave, ie 37C at night, people apparently took to drinking beer in bed to keep cool. But what, I wondered, do they drink when it's cold? I asked an Aussie friend and he said that whatever the temperature is, he always drinks something colder.

I'm on a diet of spicy reds myself during these cold January evenings, but if, like an Aussie, a cold white is your heart's desire and you still want to have enough to pay your gas bill, there are plenty of bargains out there under a tenner and even under €7. Beware though, of the tsunami of cheap but flavour-free Pinot Grigio out there, as watered-down vodka would be cheaper and tastier.

Chardonnay has a richness of flavour that's good in winter and a surprising spot for value is its homeland of Burgundy, best known for its staggeringly expensive wines. Tesco's Finest White Burgundy at €8.49 and Mâcon-Villages at €7.22 and Superquinn's Vienot Chablis at €10 all represent a bargain as they have real character.

Sicily, and in particular the Settesoli co-op, once again offers superb value with the Fiano variety under the Inycon label in Dunnes (€8.46) and own label in Tesco (€5.99). These guys are on a roll, so buy anything of theirs with confidence.

My advice is to serve these whites lightly chilled; say 12-13C, unless, of course, you're in touch with your inner Australian and like everything to taste like Budweiser Ice Cold.