Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Hot Dates!

Well, hopefully nicely chilled for whites and room temperature for reds because we're talking wine dates, and lots of them. I'm going to be out and about a bit this month and I wanted to let you know just in case you're nearby and up for joining me for a glass of wine. This Friday I'm back at the Bath Literature Festival for a wine tasting at 7.30pm (details here). Next week I'll be at the English winery Denbies for more wine tasting (details here) and at the weekend I'm running wine workshops at Max McMurdo & Brancott Estate wines' up-cycling event The Great Home Hack in London (book tickets here). Later on this month I'll be at the Ideal Home Show (details here) and hope to have a couple of tickets to give away before then. In the meantime, I've made some more (hopefully useful) videos for my YouTube channel. Let me know if you've got any questions for future videos - and if you fancy seeing my 'Thank Friday It's Wine' wine each week (a little wine top up, if you like), subscribe and you'll make me do a little dance.

Current white in the fridge: Tupungato Chardonnay 2013, £4.75 on offer, M&S
OK, so this is out of stock on the website, but if you see it on shelf in your nearest M&S then take the lot because the price is ridiculously low. It's from a really good (and relatively cool, given the high altitude) region in Argentina - Tupungato - and made by one of the best producers, Catena. The result is a gorgeous glass of peaches and cream, with just the right amount of freshness. Seriously delicious and one to try if you like your Chardonnay with curves. 

Current sherry on the side: Amontillado Medium Dry Sherry, £6.99 for 1L, Morrisons
Last Friday, I stopped by an old friend's house and, it being past six o'clock, I was offered a small glass of sherry rather than a cup of tea. How lovely! And an Amontillado too, darker than Fino but not as dark as Oloroso. This one's made by Lustau no less, a tip-top Sherry maker. With a touch of sweetness, think hazelnuts and figs in liquid form. Absolutely delicious served cool (but not chilled) in small measures, enough to catch up on vital gossip news. Bowl of nuts a must. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fashionably Late

So, London Fashion Week finished yesterday. I know this because lots of pictures of the bottom half of people in 'distressed' jeans and bare ankles on my Instagram feed told me. I do love the circus of fashion but given that not wearing a fleece on the school run is a major fashion statement for me nowadays, I'm hardly cutting edge. So imagine my happiness when told that a pair of shoes I bought last week are, in fact, so on trend it hurts. Actually, I'm hoping that's exactly what they won't do because I've bought a pair of clogs on the grounds that they are beautiful - and really comfortable. I plan to break them in by wearing them around the house. By which time, I'll have my fleece back on.

Current rose in the fridge: Paparuda Rosé, Estate Selection 2014, £6.80, Tanners
This is made by the same team behind Asda's brilliant Bradshaw wines (the Pinot Grigio is currently on offer at £4 down from its usual £6). But this one was sent to me by Tanners, a long-standing family-owned wine company. The winery, Cramele Recas, is run by an Englishman who came to Romania more than twenty years ago and they make delicious - and outrageously good value - wines. This one's made from the indigenous Feteasca Neagra grape together with the better known Cabernet Sauvignon grape and it's gorgeous in both colour and flavour. Fresh with racy redcurrant fruits. It'll perk up a simple jacket & slaw supper no end.  

Current red in the rack: Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Priorat 2011, £8 on offer (usually £10), Sainsbury's
Priorat, from the Catalunya region over on the eastern coast, is one of the smartest red wine producing areas in Spain. Along with Rioja, it's one of only two so-called DOC regions in the country (in other words, highly rated). It's brilliant - but subtle, it is not. Full on with heady black fruits and lots of oak, it's a blend of different grape varieties including Syrah, Garnacha (aka Grenache elsewhere) and Mazuela (also known as Carignan elsewhere). If you like Rioja, chances are you will love this.  And it tastes waaaay more expensive than it is. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wine Lust

Last week, when everyone went Fifty Shades of mad about a certain film, I tweeted that my abiding memory of the book was the wine descriptions. Specifically, how delicious they sounded (there was definitely a cool, crisp Chablis at some point; and I think there was a Sancerre and a Pouilly Fume too, always perfectly chilled and with not too much poured into big glasses). The response to my tweet was mostly one of horror that of all the things that stuck out (sorry), it was the wine. But it was ever thus. I used to love watching Brothers & Sisters: not only did they drink delicious looking red from beautiful glasses, but the family owned a vineyard! And in St Elmo's Fire, I remember Andrew McCarthy ringing Demi Moore from a smart restaurant for wine advice (she tells him to go for Puligny Montrachet) - but I can't remember the ending. I think I need to get out more. Just not to see Fifty Shades.

Current white in the fridge: Ara Pinot Gris 2014, £10.99, Waitrose
The Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio) grape is technically grey and the colour of the wine made from it ranges enormously. Fifty shades of Gris, if you like. Anyway, this one's from the Marlborough region in New Zealand, more famous for Sauvignon Blanc. With a pink tinge to it, think really fresh nectarine and pear flavours. Not an everyday wine at over £10 but lip-bitingly good - and refreshingly different. Memorable, too. 

Current red on the side: Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec 2013, £6.49 on offer (normally £7.99), Tesco
The thing about these supermarket finest/taste the difference/extra special ranges is that the wineries behind the wines are often really good. You might just have to squint to find their names on the label (and sometimes their name won't be on there at all). This one's made by an Argentinian producer called Catena, one of the best in the country when it comes to Malbec. And their take on Malbec is perfect for the price, full of dark berry and cherry fruit flavours and a pinch of spice. Needs meat. 

Peace out, winos x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Mothers 2 Mothers

Photo: Annie Spratt
My friend Annie took this beautiful photo when she visited the project Mothers2Mothers in Kenya just a few weeks ago as part of Team Honk's work to highlight projects being supported by Comic Relief. In Kenya, more than a million children have been orphaned after losing one or both parents to HIV. Mothers2Mothers helps pregnant women living with HIV access the life-saving health services they need to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Women often discover they are HIV positive during ante-natal care and mentoring helps them to come to terms with this, to deal with the side effects on antiretroviral drugs, to eat well and to deliver babies with the best chance of being HIV negative. Women also learn to breastfeed safely, and to avoid stigma.

This photo took my breath away. I've sponsored Team Honk to do Red Nose Day's Danceathon here

Current white in the fridge: Willing Participant Chardonnay 2012, £11.99, Tesco
I say it's in the fridge. Actually, it's all gone. It was fresh, slightly creamy, with a bit of vanilla. And definitely a twist of melon, man. It's from the Yarra Valley in Australia's Victoria wine region, where Chardonnay is a bit of a star along with the red grape Pinot Noir. Made by a producer called Innocent Bystander. Just right with a plate of fish & chips. 

Current red in the rack: Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Primitivo, £7.50, Sainsbury's
Packs a punch, this one. When stateside, this grape goes under the name of Zinfandel. But as ever, everything sounds better in Italian. From Puglia's Salento region, this is earthy in a good way. Think baked plum and blackcurrant fruits with a liberal sprinkling of spice. Needs food - really good with tomato-y pasta. 

Chin chin x