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

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Map Reading

L-R: Hugh, Michel Roux Jr
(chair) & Jancis
Last night, a friend and I went to a brilliant event in London that brought together two of the world's best wine writers, Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. If you only ever buy one wine book in your life (once you've bought mine, of course *best smile*), make it their World Atlas of Wine. It's brilliant - and full of wine maps. Anyway, they were there to debate who makes the greatest wines, Bordeaux or Burgundy. "Wine is geography in a glass" said Jancis (arguing for Burgundy, a patchwork of small vineyards). "Bordeaux is wonderful with food" said Hugh. True dat, big flavours. We all had a glass of each in our hands to help us decide and once the drinking and debating was done, we cast our votes. I went for Burgundy, mostly because I usually prefer its lighter touch compared with Bordeaux. It cuddles rather than grips, IYKWIM. But that's the beauty of wine: so much choice. Lucky us.

Current white in the fridge: Roversi Pecorino 2013, £6 on offer (normally £8), Asda
The bottle is so lovely (gorgeous label, grand-looking bottle) that I thought it might be a case of style over substance. But happily, I was wrong. The wine inside is properly Pecorino-y with lots of crisp, lemony fruit. From the Italian region of Abruzzo in Central Italy, it's a joy. In fact, happiness in a glass. A treat with a handful of pre-dinner salty crisps. 

Current red in the rack: Rosso di Puglia 2013, £7, M&S
A fruity number from Puglia, the heel of Italy. It's a heady mix of two different grape varieties, the spicy Primitivo (also known as Zinfandel) and the densely coloured, earthy-tasting Negroamaro. Together, they make a punchy pair: full bodied, ripe and just a 'lil bit rustic. Like the wine above, it's another Italian job well done. Great mid-week red. Just add sausages. 

Chin chin x

Ps. there's a new video up over on my YouTube channel about how long you can keep a wine once opened. Hope you like.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Not Tonight, Darling

I'm supposed to be in the cinema as I type this, watching Fifty Shades of Grey with friends (I live in the sticks, it took a while to get here). But I just didn't have the energy: too tired. Oh, the irony! In my defence, I was out last night - Book Club - and I can't do two late nights in a row anymore. Definitely not on a school night, anyway. I'll go straight to wine.

Current sparkling in the fridge: Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco, £6.99 on offer (normally £9.99), Tesco
I bought a bottle of this for Mothering Sunday (had both my mum and mother-in-law here for lunch) and we managed to quaff a bottle well before the gammon hit the table. And it was as good as it has ever been: fresh, frothy, full of pears and promise. A brilliant pre-proper-food drink. The producer behind this wine is really good - taste a line up of Prosecco (all in a day's work - I know!) and it really does stand out as one of the best. A steal at this price. 

Current red in the rack: Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2013, £11.24 on offer (normally £14.99), Waitrose
Gorgeous Pinot Noir from the Martinborough region in New Zealand, at the bottom of the North Island. The Marlborough region might be more famous thanks to all that zingy Sauvignon Blanc but Martinborough is doing its quietly brilliant thing, especially with the Pinot Noir grape. The chap who made this wine, Larry McKenna, takes Burgundy as his inspiration. But this is richer, riper and definitely better value than most similarly priced red Burgundies around at the moment. Just add roast lamb. 

Chin chin x

Ps. I've got a couple of tickets for the Ideal Home Show to give away (I'll be there next Thursday, wine in hand). If you fancy coming, pop your name on the blog or facebook page in the comments by this Friday (20th March 2015) and we'll settle this in the usual way, picking a name at random.

1. Competition closes on Friday 20th March 2015 at 11.59pm.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

All Stars

Last Friday, I went to the Bath Literary Festival and my session was at 7.30pm. Turned out so was Kazuo Ishiguro's, in the room next door. He might have won the Booker Prize but I had free wine (very kindly donated by wine merchant Averys of Bristol - thank you, Mimi). And afterwards, as I signed books, I met this lovely lot.

Since coming to last year's Knackered Mother's Wine Club tasting at Camp Bestival, Claire (second from left) decided to form her own KMWC with a group of friends. They now meet once a month to chat over wine - and always bring something different to try. It was so brilliant to meet them and reminded me just why I set out to write the book in the first place. Wine brings us together, makes us sit down (I especially like that part) and converse. It connects us with places, stories and best of all, with each other. I'll drink to that.

Current white in the fridge: Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi 2013, £5 on offer (normally £8), Asda
From the Marche region in central Italy, Verdicchio is the grape and in this case it comes from vineyards around the town of - you've guessed it - Jesi. As with so many good Italian whites, it's crisp, fresh, a little bit floral (honeysuckle, for me) and not at all in-your-face. Rather, it's like good background music: you notice it, but you can do other things whilst enjoying it. Like talking. And eating. Bowl of salted almonds for me with this one. 

Current red in the rack: Territorio Malbec 2013, £7.49, Tesco
Argentina is huge in wine terms, both in how much it produces (answer: loads) and in the styles of wines it makes. And Malbec, its most famous wine export, is nothing if not a shouty wine. This one comes from the Salta region up in the north of the country and the vineyards are among the highest in the world. And the altitude seems to give the wine amazing intensity and (the bit I really love) freshness. Think plums, blackberries and spice with a whacking great hug of alcohol (it's 14%). Gaw-gus. 

Chin chin x

ps - I've added some new videos to my YouTube channel on stuff like vintages, varieties, hangovers and decanting. Hope you like, let me know!