The Bath & Wiltshire Parent’s wine columnist, Ben Franks FRSA, is celebrating a slice of normality as Novel Wines begins its 2021 calendar of wine shop tasting events in May

There’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Restaurants and bars have flung open their doors and so many of you are out supporting them, enjoying fantastic food that’s been made with a year’s worth of built up love and passion. Or you’re simply celebrating the fact you don’t have to do the washing up!

The six truly novel wines that will feature in the Novel Wines tasting on 27 May

I’m delighted that from 27 May, Novel Wines marks the return of its wine and cheese tasting events at our shop on 7 Cork Place, Upper Bristol Road, Bath. We’re beginning the season with my personal choice of six ‘truly novel’ wines on Thursday 27 May from 6pm, featuring wines from Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Austria. Each wine has been paired with artisan cheese from Nibbles, Bath’s oldest and best cheesemonger. Tickets are £25 per person and available to book online, or call us at the shop on 01225 667311. 

After 27 May, we are hosting our Eastern Mediterranean Wine and Cheese Tasting, on Thursday 10 June, with a selection from Turkey, Lebanon and Crete. If you can’t make our events on 27 May or 10 June, don’t panic, we will be hosting a calendar of events every other Thursday so you can taste your way around the world!

If you’re not quite ready to venture out and join us for a face-to-face tasting, Novel Wines does offer private virtual tastings so you can enjoy a guided wine experience in the comfort of your own home. All those package deals can be viewed on our bespoke virtual tastings website here

But if you’re fed up with Zoom and just after some lovely new wines to try, here’s my picks for celebrating over the May bank holiday weekend.

White wine drinkers, especially Sauvignon Blanc fans, should shop local and plum for a fresh and zingy bottle of Aldwick Estate English Bacchus 2019 (£13.49 at Novel Wines), one of my favourite vintage Bacchus wines in recent history. It’s so easy to love, full of fresh fruit and a softer acidity than some of its Bacchus friends.  

If you’re after a bargain, look no further than the stunning value-for-money Adega de Pegoes Colheita Seleccionada Branco 2020 (£9.99, Novel Wines). This Portuguese white is lightly oak-aged and goes through malolactic fermentation, turning all those citrussy acidities into soft, creamy milky ones. The result is a fusion of peach melba and refreshing fruit salad. Lovely!

We’ve got so many amazing rose wines in at the moment as well, so if the sun’s coming out you ought to give a new one a go. The Markvart Kekfrankos Rose 2020 (£11.99, Novel Wines) from Hungary is a delight from winemaker Janos Markvart Jnr. Hand-picked from his vines on the rolling hills of Szekszard, this rose is dry but different from Provence. Expect lemons and raspberries before a twist on the finish with pops of spice and sweet mango. 

For red wine lovers, you can’t go wrong with the value for money Emiliana Adobe Reserva Carmenere 2019 (£8.99, Novel Wines), an organic red with a nose of spicy pepper and bags of fruit on the palate. It’s a great wine with beef chili tacos or sticky-glazed barbeque chicken.

However, if you want an extra special red wine this month why not pick up the 91pts Decanter favourite Bussay Charmes Pinot Noir 2017 (£15.49, Novel Wines). It has light tannins, so it’s velvety and easy to love, but as with all great Pinots, its intense fruit means it’s so versatile with food, from serving it lightly chilled with baked fish to making the perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb chops with rosemary potatoes, or simply to quaff next to a cheeseboard and some cold cuts.

I hope, whatever you drink this bank holiday, you manage to meet friends and hug your loved ones. Cheers!

You can view over 250 truly unique wines, all tried and tested by Ben, online at www.novelwines.co.uk.