Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine World

Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine World

“I don’t really like Champagne”… said no one ever. There are a few exceptional wines that most of us love to love, and  some abhorrent bottles drunk solely by those whose only aim is to score the highest % ABV for the lowest . But in the ocean that separates those two extremes, there are many bottles that we tend to describe with words like “friendly”, “easy to drink” and “approachable”. These are the wino equivalents of Coldplay, little black dresses and small talk. How unremarkably B-O-R-I-N-G. Let’s focus on love or hate wines today.

Let’s find the divisive, the Marmite Wines, those who could easily share the famous (or infamous) Aussie spread’s motto: “Love it or Hate it”. You might be passionate about how much you delight in them or about how deeply you despise them, but you know what? These wines know that it’s better to be unapologetically yourself than to try to please everyone and excite nobody.

So, here are some wines that will cause a intense reaction among a crowd of wine enthusiasts. Love them or hate them, you won’t be able to ignore them.


Haters gonna hate, but you’re just gonna Sherry it off. This pale coloured style comes from the region of  Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where the sea’s influence is bigger than in Jerez. Those who love it will know that it’s savoury and yeasty character make it a fantastic aperitif and a great tapas partner.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldHidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla

€23.95 – Available at The Corkscrew

A sip of this borderline salty Sherry will transport you to the Spanish sea side.

Nutty and mouth-watering, it’s almond and dried chamomile aromas merge with a pleasant herbal character and a delicate yeast note that never overpowers.


Don’t roll your eyes just yet. True, this sparkling Italian has probably done more than enough to earn its bad rep, with plenty of bottles on discount shelves having lots of sugar and no heart. But Emilia-Romagna‘s flagship wine -and one of Italy’s oldest varieties- has experienced a quiet revival in recent years and with quality going up, we should expect to see him more often. Most of the time, you’ll find it red (although there are rosé and white Lambruschi) and it can range from the infamous dolce (sweet) to amabile (off-dry or slightly sweet) and even secco (dry).


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldRinaldini Lambrusco Vecchio Moro

€30 – Available at Il Fornaio (Dublin), A Taste of Italy (Wexford)

Intense and vibrant, with mild tannins and balanced acidity. Late harvest grapes -85% Lambrusco Grasparossa; 10% Ancellotta; 5% Marzemino- create a rich off-dry red fizz full of life generous in ripe, red berry flavours.

It’s a fine match for Parma ham, salami or a panini involving Italian cured meats.


When it comes to wine, orange is the new rosé, at least according to the converted. Better known as skin contact wines, they are made by letting white grapes macerating in their skin for longer periods in order to extract tannins and a character that would normally not be found on white wines. Detractors will tell edgy sommeliers to stop trying to make orange wine happen, but truth is, they’re already here so try them and decide for yourself.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldPheasant’s Tears, Rkatsiteli 2009

€35.50 – Available at Terroirs

Georgia might not pop up immediately when asked to name a wine region, but when it comes to amber wines, as they like to call them, they’ve some of the world’s most interesting producers.

This gem is fermented in quevri (a traditional  clay amphorae) and offers aromas of peach, yellow flowers and dried apricots with a powerful nutty palate and a rich texture.


The one wine snobs love to hate so much that it has become fashionable to ridicule it, specially mid-November when backlash towards its most infamous expression, Beaujolais Nouveau, becomes widespread. But the mass produced new Bojo is not the only specimen and you might actually enjoy the simple pleasure of a fresh, youthful and fruity vino joven if you embrace its juicy and uncomplicated ways.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldArtuke Joven 2016

€14.90 – Available at 64 Wine

Carbonic maceration is to thank for a fruity and energetic Joven -Spanish for young-. The technique, traditional in Rioja Alavesa, provides us with this bright red filled with ripe strawberries, cherries and pomegranate.

One to drink slightly chilled and as soon as possible.


South Africa’s iconic grape, Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. For some, the variety is the winemaking equivalent of two attractive parents having an ugly child however, it can grow into a beautiful wine in the right hands. True, the resulting grape doesn’t look like mom or dad at all, but its bold tannins and unusual flavours of ink, tobacco and even tar have earned it a following.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldDelheim Pinotage 2014

€18.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine

Stellenbosch is one South Africa’s top wine producing regions and Delheim has managed to tame Pinotage’s intensity with the help of very carefully controlled fermentation and 11 months in oak.

Ripe blackberries, leather and toast on the nose meet in the palate with the wood-graphite feeling that can only be described as biting a pencil. And lovers of the good old Pinotage will know that was meant as a compliment.


Say you like Pinot Grigio in public and you risk loosing all your connoisseur cred. Often relegated to the D-list, it’s seen as the fuel of hen parties and the comfort of desperate housewives. Basic among the basic, poor Pinot Grigio is a victim of its own success, kinda like a witty comedian reduced to a naff one liner to please the masses. But there’s a time and a place for a simple, refreshing wine done well (and it’s call summer, just FYI), and the joke is on all of those who put all PGs in the same crate because they’ll never meet the right one.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldBidoli Pinot Grigio

€14.50 (offer from €15.50) – Available at Wines Direct

From DOC Friuli Grave, just up north Pinot Grigio country, the Veneto, comes a pleasant and fresh example of what a lovely, uncomplicated Pinot Grigio has to offer.

Green apple and limes might come as no surprise, but that doesn’t mean that its balanced body and moderate acidity are a tiny bit least enjoyable.


Almost every article you’ll read about Riesling nowadays will start by swearing that modern Riesling is not the gross, syrupy bottled strudel of the seventies. But you know what? Some of us do enjoy a bit of zucker in our wein. Off dry is not off limits when you talk about fine wines and the problem is not sweetness per se, but the origin of it. A wine that naturally remains slightly sweet can be a beautiful thing, but when cheap grape candy is added with lesser methods, then it’s nein for us.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldLingenfelder Bird Label Riesling

€14.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine

Made by an independent winery in the Pfazl region, where the family has lived worked for 13 generations, this is a textbook example of off dry Riesling done well.

Elderflower and ripe lemon aromas with tangy, juicy nectarine delight both nose and palate, where honey is met with minerality and enough acidity for not a bland moment to appear.


Can you believe that in this day and age some people still judge a wine by its colour? While we all cringe together at the mention of blue wine and orange is still a quite divisive affair, you would think that rosé has it all figured out, however, it’s not unusual to hear it being described with the same disdain one might associate with short and unremarkable summer romances. Serious winemakers are embracing the pink so serious wine lovers will be wise to take note and forget bad experiences with awful bottles in the eightites (and since we’re at it, forget the eighties in general, they were so painfully tacky).


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldInnocent Bystander Pink Moscato

€15 – Available at Mitchell & Son

This wine is the stuff of wine snobs’ nightmares. It’s bright pink. It’s vaguely fizzy. It has a bottle cap where the cork “should” be. It even has a quirky name and it’s made from Moscato. Please don’t run away, it’s actually quite a treat!

Flavours of lemon verbena, guava and pomegranate will take you out of the ordinary and its bubbly mouth-feel will electrify your palate.


Also known as Monastrell, this is a grape you don’t want to introduce to your mom. It’s bold and tanninc, and its harshness might embarrass you if you bring it to a dinner party, but this diamond in the really, really rough has its talents. Just like the South of France, it shows you that sometimes you don’t need to be the most sophisticated to be fabulous and is just in that region where you’ll find its finest expressions.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldChâteau d’Anglès Grand Vin Red 2012

€25.95 – Available at Searsons

Old vines and new winemakers from the Languedoc are responsible for this powerful blend of mostly Mourvedre, accompany by Syrah (the voice of reason), bad boy Carignan and loose cannon Grenache.

It’s deep color foreshadows the strength of flavours to come; expect intense tannins and acidity with plenty of ripe blackberries, toast, licorice, espresso and a warming spice.


Port is like public displays of affection. A disgusting saccharine show for those who prefer their wines always dry but an irresistible elevation of sweetness for the wine lovers that don’t mind a big hug in a glass. Let its mellow charm pamper you, Port is a lover, not a fighter, and if you join its side you’ll be rewarded with beautiful bottles that last a lifetime.


Love it or Hate It Wines: Try the Marmite of the Wine WorldRoyal Oporto Tawny

€18.95 – Available at Baggot Street Wines

A good initiation to Port or one worth revisiting for the connoisseur. This medium bodied Tawny is made from wines aged for an average of 5 years and offers aromas of dried cranberries, toasted hazelnuts and sweet spices.

For a double batch of indulgence, pait ir with dark chocolate desserts. If you crave contrast, go for hard, nutty cheeses and figs.


Gaby ProfileGabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.

Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.

Gabriela Guédez Gabriela Guédez



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