Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas Wines!

On a shoot, hat at jaunty angle. 
This last week has been a blur of school music concerts, nativity plays (the cowboy theme totally worked, by the way), panic baking and just-about-making work deadlines. The children are so ready for the end of term and so excited about Christmas. Me too, not least because we've scored an invite to the in-laws this year on Christmas Day so I'm not in charge of cooking. But I am looking after drinks (actually, I'm always looking after drinks). Here's what's on my list so far:

Fizz: Conegliano Prosecco, Taste the Difference, 150cl, Sainsbury's, £14.50 (save £4.50, normally £19)
One of the best own label Proseccos around. And in a magnum. And on offer. Works for me.

White: Tercius Alvarinho 2013, M&S, £11.99
Brilliant Portuguese white, crisp as snow. I'm going to have a bottle of this in the fridge in the hope that I get round to slapping some smoked salmon onto thickly buttered bread at some point.

Red: Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2013, Waitrose, £11.24 (save 25%, normally £14.99)
A brilliant New Zealand Pinot Noir and with the offer, great value. This'll be imbibed as we gobble up the turkey, goose and ham (MIL does them all!).

Fortified: Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth, Waitrose, £12.00 (save £2, normally £14)
Standout red vermouth. Makes a brilliant present, as well as being one of the main components of a really good negroni.

Peace out, winos x

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nativity Scene

I do love a nativity play. I was once Angel Gabriel to my husband's Joseph. We were five years old at the time and I remember thinking that, even if I wasn't Mary, at least I had a speaking part. Tomorrow, it's our children's turn. Apparently there's a cowboy theme (me neither) and Middle Boy's got one of the main parts. He ran through his lines the other day and shortly after, I heard Kenneth Branagh's voice booming out of the study. Confused, I poked my head around the door to find Middle Boy perched on the Husband's lap, watching a clip of Henry V. The St Crispin's Day speech, to be precise. "It's all about projection!" the Husband said, when I looked at him with my best WTF face. Middle Boy grinned. If he shouts his way through it tomorrow, at least I'll know why.

Current white in the fridge: Fire Flower Chenin Blanc/Pinot Grigio 2014, £8.99, Waitrose
There's a lot of Chenin Blanc made in South Africa but they're not always as pretty as this one. Blended with some Pinot Grigio too, it's golden, delicious and really does taste pleasingly apple-y. After sitting through a two hour ballet show on Sunday watching Youngest Girl, we had a late lunch with the in-laws and this was our pre-prandial. It was on point. 

Current red in the rack: Tulga Crianza 2011, £5.99, Lidl
If you fancy a cherry fruit and oak mash-up for under £6, then here it is. Think Rioja-lite. Made in the Toro region in northwest Spain, this is a little rough around the edges but lovely with it. Tempranillo is the main grape here (as it is in Rioja) but it's not as weighty or serious as Rioja. Definitely better with food, as it helps to soften the wine. A decent bargain, though.  

Cheers, dears x

Ps. I'll do a thing on Christmas wines next week.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Show & Tell

Ah, the school Show & Tell letter. Normally, it goes on the fridge, stuck on with the only remaining magnet with less than three pieces of paper already underneath it. Finding out which magnet to pick involves a game of fridge magnet russian roulette: one wrong move and you've got papers all over the kitchen floor. Anyway, I've got a show and tell this week. It's my book, rewritten for the U.S., due out next year. It's a wine journal, so it takes the wine bits from my Knackered Mother's Wine Club book but with added pages to write your own notes on wines you try and like. Here it is:

Anyway, hopefully I'll get some copies to give away here when it's ready but in the meantime, wine. 

Current white in the fridge: Fief Guerin Muscadet Sur Lie, £7.99, Waitrose
This is from the fantastically underrated Loire Valley region in northern France, specifically from the western end. The thing about Muscadet is that it's not a shouty wine; no big, ripe flavours here. If you want tropical fruit, jog on. This one's all about lip-smacking freshness, an almost saline character (in a good way) and subtle citrus flavours. Put it with anything that's comes from the sea and it'll sing. Fantastically refreshing. 

Current red in the rack: Quinta dos Carvalhais Colheita 2010, £8.99, Tesco
OK, this is a bit of a beast but if you're in the mood for a sledgehammer red (phrase borrowed from an Australian wine friend of mine), this is one such. Gloriously brambly wine made from a blend of grapes in Portugal's getting-groovier Dão region. Lots of tannin, so it needs food to soften it. Preferably something meaty. Beef stew worked brilliantly. 

Peace out, winos x

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Cold Calling

You can't buy happiness but you can buy wine and that's kind of the same thing, or so the saying goes. But I'm not drinking wine this week: combination of a late night on Saturday (old friend's wedding, too many cocktails) and the fact that I've now got a cold. Normally, I'd go with the 'alcohol kills all known germs dead' rule - but not this week. Still, there's reason to be happy. A couple of days ago I got an email. A reader had asked for some help organising a wine tasting for friends, inspired by the tasting I did at Camp Bestival earlier this year. And she said: "Thank you for your lovely recommendations for our fizz tasting. We had a great evening and surprised ourselves with the favourites...Thank you for inspiring a group of friends to eat, drink, socialise and buy with a little more knowledge and confidence than before!" That makes me really happy, with or without wine.  

Current white in the fridge: Zilzie Pinot Grigio 2013, £4.85 on offer, Asda
This was our pre-lunch glass of white on Sunday, before the cold came calling. Refreshingly, it's from Australia rather than Italy and has more flavour to it than most. Still with PG's easy lemony flavours but there's more lime and grapefruit to it too. It's usually nearer £6 but at this price, it's a fridge door banker and an absolute bargain. Went down a treat with my homemade hummus (get me). 

Current red in the rack: Eguia Rioja Reserva 2009, £6.66 if you buy two bottles, Majestic
One of my favourite wines from Majestic's Rioja range, this also happens to be one of the cheapest. Jackpot. Made from the Tempranillo grape, it's aged in oak barrels for two years. This adds a distinctive vanilla flavour to the wine, and a further year spent ageing in the bottle means everything's beautifully mellow. It's a shiny Rioja from a very good producer. Shiny Rioja = happy people. 

Peace out, winos x

Photo credit: Charles Schulz, Peanuts