Yesterday, the month long football tournament, Euro 2016, kicked off across the channel in France. 24 teams have qualified for the event and among them are some of the world’s top wine producing nations. So, today, I’ve picked out a full first team of top tipples from 11 of those competing countries and would encourage you to try a little ‘drinking outside the box’ during the next month.


(Austria) Sepp Zweigelt, Weingut Sepp Moser £ 9.50 The Sepp Zweigelt has fruity and perfumed aromas with blackberries, white pepper and spice to the fore. On the palate, the wine has crunchy redcurrant and raspberry fruit with layers of spice, liquorice and herbs.

(England) Skye’s English Chardonnay, Hush Heath Estate 2014 £ 16.75 The Skye’s English Chardonnay has an alluring nose of citrus, thyme and pineapple. On the palate, the wine has a lively acidity that’s balanced by rich, ripe grapefruit, citrus and apple flavours. (France) Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine la Croix Gratiot £ 10 Domaine la Croix Gratiot produce a Picpoul that’s chock full of vibrant citrus, pear, stone fruit and spice flavours with a fresh, cleansing, lively acidity. It’s at its best when paired with fishy pasta dishes.

(Germany) Dr. Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling £ 11.50 Made, in a modern, dry style, by one of Germany’s top producers, the wine has classic dry German Riesling characteristics, with plenty of citrus and peach flavour on the palate.

(Hungary) Ma’d Dry Furmint, Szent Tamás £ 13.75 Stylistically, The Ma’d Dry Furmint 2013 lies somewhere between a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France and a classic Chablis. It’s a refreshing wine that expresses both the varietal character of Furmint and the inherent minerality of the vineyards of Mád village. It’s well-structured and well balanced with a wonderfully elegant blend of apricot and peach flavours and warming undertones of ginger spice. To enjoy it at its best, pair it with roast pork.

(Italy) Pallio di San Floriano Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Monte Sciavo £ 10 The Pallio has aromas of honey and almond blossom and a rich full flavoured peach palate with subtle mineral notes.

(Poland) Konik’s Tail Vodka £ 32.50 A small batch vodka made with three different grains. It is complex and very well balanced and is named Konik after a primitive Polish horse.

(Portugal) Dao Reserva, Caves Alianca £ 8.25 Caves Aliança has vineyard holdings spread throughout Portugal is. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite from Aliança’s incredibly diverse range of wines but TV wine expert, Ollie Smith, has singled out the Aliança Barraida Reserva for particular praise, “Crikey! Another great value red with a real backbone of firm structure that would be delicious paired with a hearty meaty feast.”

(Republic of Ireland) Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey £ 34 This is a delicious small-batch blend with a very high malt content. Interestingly, it’s matured in rum casks for added spice.

(Romania) Calusari Pinot Noir £ 7.25 Wine isn’t the first thing that pops into our heads when we think of Transylvania but, I dare say, even Dracula himself, on a rare quiet night in, would have appreciated the subtle, strawberry and raspberry fruited charms of the Calusari Pinot Noir which also comes from Transylvania.

(Spain) Borsao Garnacha Tinto £ 6.25 Aromatically, the Borsao Garnacha is open, generous and spicy. On the palate, the wine is full of juicy bramble, cherry and fresh redcurrant fruit with underlying hints of blackberry, liquorice and black pepper. It’s an easy drinking wine that’s best paired with slow-cooked belly pork, or perhaps chorizo with chickpeas.