Good one By Richard Magnier

The Rugby World Cup is currently in full swing in England, where twenty of the world’s established and most promising Rugby Union teams clash once again.

Coincidentally, many of these countries have a history of wine and spirit production, providing the opportunity to sip on the national beverage of the team whose game you may be watching at the time. With this in mind, below are some of our recommendations:

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No wine on the shelves at the moment is more apt than the rugby-themed limited edition Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fifteen different labels are available – one for each rugby position – with each including a different number and illustration representing that player. So not only will you have the chance to have something very relevant to sip on while watching the rugger, you’ll also be able to drink your favourite position too!

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It seems everything from Argentina is ‘big’ – their steaks, their wines and even their rugby players! Critics have noted the increase in quality of their wines in recent decades though, especially with their famous Malbec, and Andean Vineyards is one such wine that ably displays the more modern Argentinean approach to grape: the typically dense and chocolaty, concentrated dark plum fruit is there, but it’s balanced with great acidity and freshness.

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Mon dieu! The French play rugby in much the same way they approach life: sometimes with great zeal, and sometimes, well… <gives a Gallic shrug>.

They never fail to impress at Rugby World Cup tournaments however, and as such our matching wine is similarly bold: Chapoutier ‘Belleruche’ Côtes-du-Rhône, which carries the spicy, brambly black fruit flavours and gutsy body typical of the region, though Michel Chapoutier zeal brings this to a new dimension.


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We may not have a wine industry to boast of, but our whiskey is one of the world leaders in its category at least. With a huge choice of Irish whiskey now available thanks to its recent boom, it’s always good to remember our roots by enjoying those brands that have stood the test of time. Tullamore D.E.W. Original is one such example, which is the only blend of three Irish whiskeys – pot still, malt and grain – giving it great balance, smoothness and complexity. All characteristics that our Boys in Green will hopefully show on the pitches of England this autumn!

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Though Italy are relatively new to the rugby game, the same can’t be said for their wines, which they’ve been producing for centuries. While their rugby team is noted for their dogged determination, the same can be said of the “new wave” of winemakers in the 1970’s such as the famous Piero Antinori, who defied Italy’s strict wine laws to produce ground-breaking new wines.

These have since been dubbed “Super Tuscans”, and though they can command stratospheric prices the “baby” Super Tuscan Villa Antinori is a great-value introduction to the style: supple and silky it has notes of ripe red fruit, sweet spices, dried fruit and nuts.

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New Zealand

Ah, the famous – and feared – All Blacks, even those who don’t follow rugby are fully aware of New Zealand’s dominance of the game. And the same can now be said of the traditionally French Sauvignon Blanc too, for the grape is now almost completely synonymous with the Kiwi nation.

Here’s a n NZ Sauvignon that not only tastes good, but helpfully is in a very apt black outfit too: the Saint Clair Marlborough Premium Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a full, crisp and powerful wine with intense flavours of passionfruit and blackcurrant along with underlying gooseberry tones. Full and powerful? Sounds like their rugby team!

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Just like us Irish, our Celtic neighbours are more known for their “water of life”, though their style is considerably different for many reasons, one of which being the focus on the ‘single malt’ approach appreciated worldwide.

Glenfiddich is the distillery that first brought single malt whiskies to international attention in the early 1960’s, so sample a piece of history with their Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, which is distinctively fruity and creamy with a long, smooth and mellow finish. It’s the perfect example of Glenfiddich’s unique Speyside style and is widely proclaimed the best dram in the valley.

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South Africa

Continuing the ‘big’ theme, the Springboks aren’t exactly weedy next to the Argentines and Kiwis! Their love of the braai (the Afrikaans word for barbecue) means they’re no strangers to hunks of grilled meat and similarly powerful reds

Pinotage is South Africa’s national grape, and though widely drunk down there it’s often misunderstood internationally. Right this wrong by trying the Graham Beck ‘Game Reserve’ Pinotage: this is the grape as it is meant to be, with the enticing savoury character of its Pinot Noir heritage and the wonderful bright, ripe mixed berry fruit that defines this maverick grape

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Though relative newcomers to rugby, the US also boast a well-established wine history thanks to immigrants bringing vine cuttings with them from Europe hundreds of years ago.

So though they specialise in European grapes over there, they can be credited with creating their own category called “White Zinfandel”. Sutter Home was the first to pioneer this rosé style back in 1971: light and refreshing, it has flavours of strawberry and melon with a trademark medium-sweet finish, making it great with slightly spicy food such as Asian dishes.



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