A giant claxon went off in my head. Imaginary sirens wailed, notional red lights flashed. Somewhere, from a non-existent tannoy, a disembodied voice intoned: “Wine-selling gimmick detected. Please leave the building. Drop this bottle in the recycling on your way out.”
Of course, there are gimmicks and there are gimmicks. I once bought – bought, via the transfer of my money to a retailer – a bottle of white wine that featured a coral reef scene and a lenticular shark, which would appear to swim as you poured the wine. Of course the best place to pour that particular wine was into the sink, so grizzly were the contents.
The Piggy Bank people haven’t spent money on gimmicky labels, but for each bottle sold they are promising to give 50p to charity. That’s admirable, but it doesn’t give me much faith in the contents of the bottle. The wines have an RRP of £7.99, but when Tesco had their recent 25% off deal the Tempranillo was being sold off at £4.87. Take off the 50p and there’s £4.37 left for the bottle, the label, the screwcap, the transport, the retailer, their premises, their staff, the grapes, the vineyard, the fertilizers, the pesticides, the tractors, the website and the profit. This is not enough. I do not feel comfortable around £4 bottles of wine.
But I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the bottle. The tannins were a bit grainy, but there was enough in this brambly, dense, dark and very enjoyable wine to make up for that. I thought their sauvignon blanc was even better, delivering everything you want from that kind of wine (refreshment, a bit of zing, bonus charitable donations) and nothing you don’t want (the main problem with commercial sauvignon blanc is a tendency to what I could term aggressive overzing). Thumbs, then, very much up.
But a funny thing happened to the tempranillo overnight. At the end of the evening I popped the screwtop back on and slid the bottle into the fridge. I do this a lot. My experience is that very little damage is done to wine if left overnight – and often for a few days longer – capped or corked and refridgerated. Not this one, though. The following night there was no fruit left, nothing to smell or taste. It was a dead liquid, a grim, loveless leaf soup. I had to pour it down the sink sharpish, and wash my mouth out repeatedly with a lovely and pricey Chianti Classico. There must be a chemical explanation for this, but I’m not a chemist, I’m just a wine drinker. Should I praise this wine because of the positive impression of night one, or damn it because of the disaster on night two? Does its overnight collapse make it a lesser wine – is it a sign, perhaps, of a particular winemaking fault? – or is the blame mine for not slurping my way through the bottle quickly enough?
Thumbs, then, very much still mainly up but with a little bit of tentative sideways action on the Tempranillo front, which handily allows me to continue with my instinctive distrust of £4ish wine. The destination of the charitable donations is, by the way, decided (from a shortlist) by the wine’s drinkers, or at least those who zap the QR code on the label and are taken to the voting page. Which makes this, of all the wines I’ve seen with QR codes on the labels (a lot), the most usefully QR-coded wine of all. Some thought has gone into this stuff, basically, and some charity comes out of it. This has got to be a good thing.