I like to think that the Laughing Policeman's choice of wine would be Riojajajajajajaja (and that he would text jajajajajajajaja in reply to a feeble joke instead of the hahahahahaha our teenagers text to us).
Rioja from Spain is an eminently jolly, good-humoured, crowd-pleasing wine. It's never sulky or difficult like some red wines that seem to lose their sense of humour at certain points in their evolution, and it's never so refined that it loses touch with its customers. No wonder Rioja is near the top of most people's list of favourite wines: it's ready to drink when you buy it, it's sweetly oaky, pleasantly fruity, and good value for money.
The adjective most commonly used to describe Rioja is 'smooth'. In technical terms this is pretty meaningless (it's a no-no in professional wine-tasting notes), but it's not difficult to understand what someone means when they use it: a red wine that isn't astringent or tannic, but is well rounded and very easy to enjoy.
Rioja is an excellent all-round wine. Good with food, great at gatherings, excellent for drinking while watching Modern Family/Would I Lie to You?/early Woody Allen films, and anything featuring a jolly policeman.
Laithwaite's has a fantastic range of Riojas. Simon is a great fan of Rioja because it doesn't create tension or anxiety when buying. He bought a selection and we really like the Barón de Barbón 2010, and the Pagos de Tahola 2010. My favourite, though, is the Finca Los Trinos (we bought the 2010) which is a fine example of a fresh, modern, juicy-fruit Rioja. Very smooth, too.
[smiles from a Royal Mail stamp collection issued in 1990]