After the incredible madness of December, January is a horrible month. I feel thin in January, and sadly I don't mean weight-wise. Just thin. A large part of feeling like this is because this is the month my little brother died: it will be ten years next week since he did. But as the month goes on I'm being fattened up by life. Watching my children run in the low winter sunlight. Seeing Currently Bearded Husband tending to his leaf-burning bonfires. Pulling up the blinds to a breath-taking pink and blue dawn (even though I'd rather be sleeping). I sense hope in the air. And he's there.

Current white in fridge: Cantina di Monteforte Passo Avanti 2009 Soave, Italy, £5.69, Waitrose.com
Italy grows over 1000 different grape varieties across a million vineyards. The Italians drink quite a bit of it themselves but they export more wine than any other country. Much of what we get is the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio but when you start exploring other indigenous Italian white grape varieties, it gets much more interesting. This one is made from the Garganega grape and made in the Veneto region by a New Zealander. The result is a lemon/apple/pear mash up with gorgeous sunshine fruit. It sings rather than shouts, just as I like it. Put it with simple roast chicken. 

Current red on side: Montgras Carmenere Reserva 2010, Chile, £6.40, Waitrose.com
I plonked for this one when doing the online shop (told you it wouldn't be the last time), always a bit more risky because you can't really tell what the label is like. I do like a nice-looking label. Anyway, this was a joy. It was wintery, squashed full of bramble fruit and topped off with a lovely waft of spice. For years, the Carmenere grape was mistaken for Merlot in Chile and the two grapes were harvested and vinified (made) together. Now, it is often vinified separately. Good job too, as Carmenere has a bit more grip and attitude than Merlot. Made from grapes grown in the up-and-coming Colchagua Valley. Loved it with roast beef on Sunday.

Here's hoping x