Friday, 24 April 2015

In The Loop

I've been in London all week, judging at this year's International Wine Challenge. I'm tasting approx. 70 wines a day - then spitting them out, obviously - and making the most of being here in the evenings. Tonight, I was lucky enough to be asked to the launch of The Pool, a new online platform created by Sam Baker (former editor of Red Magazine) and Lauren Laverne. It covers everything from fashion and food to people and politics. I've been dipping in every week since it launched and can highly recommend it. And the wine at tonight's launch party was from one of my favourite Provence producers, Mirabeau. Back with wines next week but in the meantime here's a terribly grainy picture of Caitlin Moran on stage tonight (Lauren's to the right) talking about Leg Season, aka having to get our legs out now that it's sunny *shudders*:

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Having A Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine, or so they say. Clearly they forgot wine, carbs and Codeine but I know what they were getting at. Anyway, one of the biggest successes of the Easter holidays so far has been the comedy workshop that Middle Boy went to last week. Run by my old friend Laura, she's one of the creators of the School of Comedy, holding workshops for 4-16 year olds. It started as an after-school club when Laura was teaching in London ten years ago. She then created a stage show around the children, took it to the Edinburgh Festival (amazing!) and it became the idea behind E4's series of the same name. So, cut to Milford-on-Sea last week and Middle Boy walked into a room full of kids and spent the next three hours making up funny sketches and laughing his head off. He was flying when he came out. Anyway, I wanted you to know about it and if you need details of workshops elsewhere you'll find them here. Now, pass the wine.

Current white in the fridge: Wachenheimer Riesling Trocken, Burklin Wolf 2013, £13.95, Tanners
It's a mouthful to say, but happily it's an incredible mouthful to drink too. From one of the top producers in Germany, they were early adopters of making wine the biodynamic way (think super-organic) and their wines are amazingly vibrant. It's from the Pfalz region and is deliciously crisp, loaded with mango fruit and as floral as a tea dress. Old-timers in the wine trade go ga-ga for good Riesling and I'm sure it's because it reaches parts of the palate other wines can't reach. Just add really salty crisps or a slightly spicy supper. 

Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Swartland Malbec 2013, £5.99 on offer, Tesco
It's World Malbec Day on the 17th April, held to celebrate the grape that's become Argentina's most famous vinous export. Now, I realise the one I've picked here is from South Africa but a) I'll pick one from Argentina for this week's 'Thank Friday It's Wine' on my YouTube channel (subscribe here if you don't want to miss a thiiiiiing, as Steven Tyler would say); b) it's completely delicious and c) brilliant value. All black cherry and spice, it's made by one of South Africa's winemaking legends, Bruce Jack. Needs food, preferably something meaty. Loved lasagne, as it happens. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Rosé Cheeks

Last weekend, the sun came out. And so did the rosé. There is something about pink wine that hints at summer better than any other wine - and it definitely shines in the sun. This is me, on Easter Monday, at a restaurant on the Isle of Wight called The Hut. If you are ever on the Island, go. They sell rosé by the double magnum (I'm holding an empty one; I had help). The combination of warm sun, cold wine and a delicious lunch with friends was invigorating. I didn't feel quite so invigorated after stealing sharing most of The Husband's chocolate orange Easter egg later that night but still, totally worth it. Happy holidays.

Current white in the fridge: te Pa Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013, £10.95, 31dover.com
If Sauvignon Blanc is the star grape in New Zealand's Marlborough region, then Pinot Gris is shaping up to be the understudy. The colour of the wine is tinged pinky-orange thanks to the skins of Pinot Gris (more red than white) but it's the flavours that are really interesting. This one's typically peach and pear-like and it's got a little more oomph to it than your usual Pinot Grigio (same grape, different take). Made by the MacDonald Family, who seem adorable. As does their farm. 

Current red on the side: Taste The Difference Pic Saint Loup 2011, £8, Sainsbury's
The Languedoc region in the South of France is stuffed full of good reds, often great value too - like this one. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes, creating a juicy, spicy, red berry mash up that was made to be quaffed with sausages. Pic Saint Loup is the name of the wine region as well as the name of a distinctive mountain peak that overlooks the vines. Think baby-Rhone, style-wise.

Chin chin x

Ps. Thanks to my friend Amanda for taking the Instagram pic x

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Big Picture

So, this is a really big picture of me. It's in the latest Waitrose Kitchen magazine and is the first of my monthly wine course features. I'm sitting on my kitchen table (I don't usually do that) with a glass of wine in my hand (that one more so). I have been dying to tell you about it and still can't quite believe it's in print. This has all happened because of this blog, the book - and all you lovely wine-loving readers. So, thank you. Wishing you all a very happy Easter with lots of chocolate and wine. Talking of which, if you want to know which wines go best with white, milk and dark chocolate, I made a video about it here.

Current white in the fridge: Rocca Vecchia Falanghina 2013, £5.99 on offer (normally £6.99), Co-op
A perky Italian white, Falanghina is the name of the grape and this one's grown in the Puglia region down in the heel of Italy. There's no oak here, so it's all about the lemony, grapefruit-tinged fruit flavours. And the crispness; it's fresh as a daisy. Doesn't need food but perked up my decidedly lazy supper-for-one of mashed avocado on toast beautifully. Brilliant value at this price - a bank holiday banker. 

Current Sherry in the rack: Caversham Cream Sherry, £5.25, Aldi
This is one of the sweet wines in the video mentioned above and is, turns out, a great match for white chocolate. It's the only sherry in the Aldi range. Made from a blend of sweet Oloroso sherry, it's rich with gorgeous nutty aromas and dried raisin-y flavours. And incredibly smart for the price. If you like sweet wines, I think you'll love this. Even more so if you've got a white chocolate Easter Egg within reach. 

Chin chin x