Rugby, stout and Spanish wine

A dull January turned into an exciting February with the start of the Six Nations rugby last weekend. As luck would have it, a couple of tickets to the England v Scotland game came our way via a good friend, and the in-laws were kind enough to have the kids, so off we went for a jolly day out to Twickenham to watch England retain the Calcutta Cup.

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Chin chin Scots-people

A rather dull, all work and no play January, has sadly meant little wine drinking or blogging for me since the new year. Any creative fancy of mine has been zapped by evening conference calls with our friends across the pond and the lure of spending the last 30 minutes of my day watching mind numbing telly, such as recordings of Miranda (every girl deserves a little Tom Ellis pick me up after a day’s slog).

I would now like to raise a virtual glass to my neighbourly Scotsmen/ women on this eve of an England v Scotland Six Nations nail biter since a fabulous Burns’ night supper of Cullen Skink and Haggis last Friday.

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Flash Recommendation: Riva Leone Barbera

What: Riva Leone, Barbera, Piedmont, Italy
Where Out: The Bull Hotel, East Street, Bridport, Dorset £5.20 175ml glass/  £19.50 a bottle
Where In: Spirited Wines, Marlow, £7.83 a bottle
Who: 1 ‘On-the-wagon-for-January’ Husband, 1 ice cream eating child

Wine for me + ice cream for the girl = family harmony
Wine for me + ice cream for the girl = family harmony

When: Post lunch coffee/ cake/ wine stop sheltering from the rain.
Food match: I drank it with a Victoria Sponge (just a slice, not a whole one) but would think it would be better matched to either the Venison or the Burger from The Bull’s menu (next time perhaps!!).
Conclusion: Spicy, eucalyptus, medium bodied with some deep redcurrant and raspberry fruit. Very easy drinking even on its own.
Bonus point: The Bull Hotel; Stylish, chilled, welcoming. Log fires in winter, sunny courtyard in the summer, great wine list…and they seem to like kids!!
Links: Riva Leone

Detoxing on Baked Beans and Grenache

mince pies
Mince pie overload…

To make up for our excesses over the festive period, my other half has declared January as ‘The month of Austerity’. This means that we have been plunged into a boring few weeks of eating baked beans on toast or leftovers out of the freezer. Most boring of all though, he’s not drinking alcohol. On the upside, it turns out that he doesn’t mean for the whole month, just until Burns Night apparently, but this leaves one wine blogger a little lonesome on the wine drinking front for the next 22 days.

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Flash Recommendation: Oloroso Abocado

Casa Brindisa, the perfect lunch destination for a museum day out, even sitting outside!
Casa Brindisa, the perfect lunch destination for a museum day out, even sitting outside in December

What: Alameda Oloroso Abocado, Bodegas Hidalgo
Where Out: Casa Brindisa, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London £4.95 glass/ £34 a 50cl bottle
Where In: Highbury Vintners £10.50 50cl
Who: Husband plus 2 tired and hungry toddlers
When: Christmas family day out to the big smoke
Food match: Smoked spanish cheese Idiazabal with walnuts and quince jelly
Conclusion: Luscious, leggy medium sweet sherry, copper in colour, figgy undertones. Made a favourable alternative to a Rioja with tapas.
Bonus point: Numbed the pain of the eldest child refusing all but toasted corn and bread sticks for lunch in protest at the 90 minute queue for the Natural History Museum.
Links: BBR Oloroso Summary,  Oloroso Sherry

Flash Recommendation: Vega Douro Tinto 2009

What: Vega Douro Tinto 2009, Douro, Portugal
Where Out: The Two Brewers, Park Street, Windsor £15
Where In: The Wine Reserve £8.49
Who: Old bestest girl-chums
When: School night
Food match: Pork belly
Conclusion: Super value for a full bodied, savoury wine with dark cherry fruits.
Bonus point: It’s all in the location for my first flash recommendation; Chocolate labradors round our ankles and open fires in perhaps the cosiest pub in Berkshire.
Links: Wines of Portugal

Making me work for my wine

So, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like to over the last couple of weeks, partly due to being extra-specially knackered but also because I’ve cancelled the cleaners so have been doing the housework when I want to be blogging! What this does mean however is that the money that I am saving on the cleaners can be spent on more/ better wine. The opportunity to do so presented itself to me when an old wine associate of mine, Tony Hill, one-half of Bordeaux and Beyond, kindly let me help out on his stand at a local wine fair back in November to give me a taste of the wine trade. Continue reading “Making me work for my wine”

Hot and Spicy

treeMy usual ritual of decorating the Christmas tree this year was a little different to the past few years as I swapped my usual companions, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley and the rest of the Love Actually cast, for 2 little baby helpers. More of a hindrance than a help to my obsessive-compulsive bauble placement, my 2 year old was tasked with hanging some non-breakable wooden decorations on the lowest branches (averaging 3 on the same branch), whilst my 14 month old removed said decorations and tried to eat the fairy lights.

In past tradition however, I was still able to enjoy a glass or 2 of mulled wine brewed from my own recipe, the perfect accompaniment to help get into the Christmas spirit.

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From Chunder to Wonder

Hardys_ReserveAs someone who is well aware that Australia produces some of the best wine in the world but never actually buys Australian wine, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the excellent ‘Chateau Chunder: When Australian Wine Changed the World’ on BBC4 last week. Having been bitten by drinking nasty Chardonnay in vast quantities in my early 20’s, it’s about time someone reminded me what I’ve been missing.

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Compromising with 2-stars

A year ago, due to the tender age of our son, I could only have imagined dropping the kids off at nursery or their grandparents and taking the day off work, skip-jump-hopping home to get ready for a sophisticated day off out in London lunching at a top restaurant and sampling a few wine bars that are only ever read about in our house these days.

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