I can’t actually pin point the last year that I dined out on Valentine’s Day. I do recall a distant Valentine’s memory, once upon a time, of being squeezed into a restaurant, approximately 6 inches from the couple on the next table for a pretty ordinary set meal at a pretty extraordinary price. It felt forced, unromantic and a rip-off, resulting in my vow to never ever eat out on Valentine’s night again.
That’s not to say that Valentine’s Day goes unnoticed in our household. It’s actually a good excuse to close the laptop, leave the TV off and have a date-night in, with a decent bottle of wine or two and a meal to match. Back in the old days, before life got that little bit more hectic, these evenings weren’t so few and far between, we certainly didn’t need a prompt such as Valentine’s Day for us to actually sit down at the table, eat together and have a real conversation.
We’re now almost dependent on occasions such as Valentine’s, anniversarys, and birthdays to remind us that romance isn’t dead but are total creatures of habit in that whenever we do have a date night, in comes the ribeye steak and big red wine. We go wild where the starter and pudding are concerned and vary these according to our mood. This Valentine’s however, (look away now Husband) we’ll be having smoked salmon of some description to start and most likely cheesecake, inspired by one of my ex-rowing friends who’s in the midst of a cheesecake baking frenzy, to finish after our steak. So my own Valentine’s wine-inspired date-night in is going to look a little something like this, with no need to stray from my own PFW wine list: Continue reading
This is the first year where my daughter seems to have truly grasped the concept of Christmas. She was telling me yesterday how Santa needs to have mince pies and milk left out for him. I’m pretty sure this information hasn’t come from memory, since a year is a long time when it’s more than a quarter of your life. I’m also certain that this advice didn’t come from me, let’s face it, there’s no chance that I’d be suggesting milk as Santa’s ‘one for the road’.
Which brings me on nicely to what exactly would Santa be choosing to wash down his mince pies? Apart from the more traditional suggestions that might spring to mind, such as sherry or port, I’d think that Santa would be looking for something warming and spicy with a touch of sweetness. My Calmel and Joseph Corbieres would certainly do the trick, but it’s a different kind of wine that I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while, partly due to one of my other half’s old rowing buddies obsession with the Italian wine Amarone, but also since I’ve encountered a couple of wines this year that have been made in the same way, resulting in a style of wine which would be the perfect accompaniment to mince pies, chocolate cake and Christmas pudding alike, as well as dark and meaty wintery dinners.
What: Juan Gil 4 Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain
Where Out: Chateau Marmot, Temporary Dining, Anywhere, UK, One glass of the 5 glass £27 wine flight
Where In: Old Butchers Wine Cellar, Berkshire, around £10
Occasion: Tonight, #winewednesday, ‘In’, after a busy and increasingly stressful day in the office. Previously, ‘Out’, at my first pop-up restaurant (see my Chateau Marmot post here – I told you I’d buy it again!).
Food match: Tonight, nothing to note, but this is a big, fruity and tannic wine, so may I suggest something big and beefy, such as those delicious ribs mentioned in my previous post or perfect for steak.
Conclusion: Deep, dark and tannic. Lovely smooth and rounded blackberry fruit.
Bonus point: To counterbalance the jet-lag of the clocks changing back to GMT, and the resulting draggingly long colder days and dark evenings; my mid-week saviour! Happy Hallowe’en!
Added 15-09-2016: Also try, Rafael Cambra El Bon Homme, a Monastrell/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Valencia or Calmel and Joseph Terrasses du Larzac, a classic Grenache, Syrah Mourvedre blend from Languedoc in France.
No, it’s not a typo. I haven’t been living it up in L.A. at the iconic Chateau Marmont with Harry Styles and RPatz (think very exclusive, no way would they let me in anyway, celeb hang out). In fact, I haven’t even left the home counties to experience the next best thing for a respectable mother in her
mid-thirties; a pop-up restaurant. Continue reading
I’ll be honest here, my only knowledge of Jersey is that it’s near France, full of millionaires, they have cows and it looks pretty (from what I remember from ‘Bergerac‘). Although I don’t remember Jim (Bergerac of course), ever commenting on the local beverages, I can also add, that they can make rather tasty wine too.
The Sainte Marie 2010 is produced by La Mare Wine Estate, a destination, event venue and local produce champion. Looking at their website, there’s little mention of the wine specifics, which is a shame, as this off-dry Seyval Blanc and Orion blend was delightful. Golden in colour and a peachy palate, the creaminess and acidity of this wine stood up proudly to the spiciness of a home-made curry made by a friend of mine, fresh back from her Jersey holiday. This was also perfectly drinkable with just the poppadums and I can also imagine it would be pretty mean with Jersey Oysters.
Bought from Waitrose in Jersey somewhere in the region of £10.85.
Additional links: Delicious Magazine Article – Jersey
My very first interest in learning more about wine started during an English Wine Producers‘ tasting at the Great British Cheese Festival around 10 years ago. The realisation that there could be a future in producing wine made from grapes grown in this country, ignited a real excitement in me that wine had failed to do in the past and it’s what prompted me to apply to complete my WSET courses. A far from romantic affair, run in an old science lab at Bracknell and Wokingham College, both my Intermediate and Advanced courses delivered an anti-climatic one page, 10 minute passing over of wine from England and Wales amongst the intrigue of the rest of the world’s wines.
To distract me further, all thoughts of English wine were then buried under piles of laundry and dirty nappies. Until that is, my interest was reignited in the form of a bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee produced to celebrate my birthday last summer.
Since then, my English wine nerdiness has spiralled, the pinnacle of which saw me presenting an English wine tasting, so, imagine my delight when an invitation to ‘An Evening with Nyetimber‘ came my way! Not just a Nyetimber tasting, but a wine and dinner pairing at the one and only The Vineyard at Stockcross, the 5-star boutique hotel, spa and restaurant between Hungerford and Newbury. Cue much jubilation and clicking of heels (if I could click my heels, but that’s a whole other story) and off I drove into the sunset last Sunday night with the wind in my hair and the promise of a first class dinner and watering . Continue reading
Picture this; it’s been sunny since Wednesday and you’ve been cooped up in an air-conditioned office all week. The forecast for the weekend is STEAMY and you awaken to blue skies and glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. First thought? It’s time for a barbecue!
Proud husbandly photograph of 6 hour cooked dinner
So, first thing…do we have any charcoal? Yes, I think there’s one last batch that’s been clogging up the shed all winter – just enough for one bbq. Second…food! Cue, a rummage in the freezer. Sausages – check. A couple of chicken thighs, perfect for skewers – check. This is where I, being female, would end, but this is a barbecue, 2 meats in one meal simply won’t suffice! Continue reading
What: Kleine Zalze Pinotage, Stellenbosch, South Africa 14.5%
Where Out: Hand and Flowers, Maidenhead, Berkshire £4.85 175ml glass/ £19 a bottle
Where In: Templar Wines, online, £7.99 (as part of a case of 12)
Occasion: Long overdue, Yummy Mummy mid-week catch up over pizza and wine
Food match: This fruity, medium bodied Pinotage stands up well to the SCRUMMY Taco Beef Pizza.
Conclusion: A warm and well rounded wine with good oak and pleasing chewy blackcurrant. Much better in comparision to anything that used to be on the wine list here before the previous owners took over. Back to being the best pub in town by far.
Bonus point: At last, the grown ups of Maidenhead have somewhere nice to go for a drink and a decent bite to eat in the centre of town! Not to be confused with the magnificent Marlow eatery of Tom Kerridge fame just up the road, but a lovely local all the same, and you’re more likely to get a table.
Surely this year, here in the UK we deserve a good summer? The jet stream owes us more than just a few random non-rainy days and in anticipation of a heat wave or two, in my next couple of posts, I will share my idea of summer wine choices whilst dining al fresco.
Part One: Picnics
What: Fairtrade Organic Unwooded Chardonnay, Santa Florentina, Famatina Valley, Argentina 12.5%,
Where Out: Bel and The Dragon, Cookham, Berkshire £5.00 175ml glass/ £21 a bottle
Where In: Corney and Barrow, online, £8.50
Who: A date (A.K.A. my husband – someone I hadn’t spoken to for a number of weeks a) in a civilised setting b) using eye contact due to some kind of multi-tasking activity e.g. wiping tomato sauce from a small person’s face c) without referring to him directly but via one of the same small people as ‘Daddy’).
When: Last minute flogging of Kaiser Chief’s tickets, in favour of a quiet, local, Friday night out, drinking wine and eating curry (without regret – boring, I know, but soooo much easier).
Food match: Had I been eating and not heading down the road to the Spice Merchant Cookham Tandoori, the mussels would’ve gone down a treat.
Conclusion: A dry and soapy, citrus wine with a perfect acidity softened by the buttery creaminess reminiscent of popcorn flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans. Bel and The Dragon doesn’t have the cheapest wine list in the vicinity but it’s very comprehensive and I look forward to heading back to trying more. Plus, if this wine was anything to go by, the quality of wine seems to fairly reflect the price (I tested some of their competitors just to be on the safe side).
Bonus point: For an ‘everyday’ drinker to take home or for any of your wine buying needs, pop next door to the lovely Old Butcher’s Wine Cellar (website currently under development) for a bottle of Paul Mas Chardonnay.
Links: Why Chardonnay is back in fashion, Dynamic Domaines Mas