A good white for a spicy chicken salad? 

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When we have people over for a Sunday salad lunch it usually involves quite a varied amount of accompliments. I’m talking about the chicken being spiced, spring onions and radishes flourishing the salad and usually some sort of truffle oil and pecorino potato dish hanging around. Basically, it’s a bugger to find a reasonable match for. 

This calls for a failsafe white, the Picpoul de Pinet. It’s pretty versatile as a white and this is great matched with light  chicken and seafood salads as well as those doused in a spicy barbecue marinade.  I like this particularly one because of its citrus and mineral notes that perfectly cut through and completment a mixture of difference foods. It’s also a bargain at £8 at Sainsburys. Bravo! 👏🏼 

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Move over Gin in a tin, train Cider just got real

Cider, Uncategorized

All hail M&S! They have always nailed the train drinks IMO and the latest to join the train bevvies crew is a set of pretty sexy looking ciders. 

I don’t mind a fruity cider in a sunny pub garden every now and then but it’s not something I’d necessarily opt for as a casual drink. This Devon Farmhouse Cider with Raspberry though might have to be my guilty exception. It’s not overly sweet, the raspberry is there but it doesn’t over power the actual taste of a tasty West Country cider. You can still taste the apples! I’d imagine it’s a complete beaut over ice but I’m on the train. I’m not here to be picky….(unless you’re reading this M&S and fancy introducing an ice dispencer at the the St Pancreas branch by the Southeastern terminals 😎 yeah, thanks) 

It’s £2.25 for a can from a station and well worth it. Bravo 👏🏼 

Cheese and wine matching is endless and that’s why I love it

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I genuinely think that a cheese (and meat, bread, pickles etc etc) board is my favourite food thing of all time. The combinations are endless for the food and that’s exactly the same for the wine. Yes, you can try and match an indidvial cheese to an individual wine who really only has one cheese? A fool I tell you. A FOOL. 

I’m a grazer so finding different wines to match different cheeses is like a quest. There are so many, so many different opinions and variables. For this cheese board though we had a bit of a showstopper – the Waitrose 1 Camembert. Had my eyes on this beaut after going through a slight obsession with baked Camembert. This beast was stinky. No, there wasn’t something rotting at the back of the fridge. It was my cheese. Hell yeah.


Ara Vineyard Single Vineyard 2014: Waitrose £11.99

The wine was a complete blind choice. I knew a pinot from New Zealand would be a fair match and this wine did not disappoint. I’m pretty sure it was down to £8.99 when I picked it up which, I’m bloody glad I did because it was an absolute bargain for that price. It was full of rich fruity raspberry and cherry flavours but not too heavy on the palate. Exactly what I wanted for pairing with this hot, baked and pungent cheese. The slightly spicy notes too give it the right amount of balance so it’s not overly fruity. All that wrapped together makes it such easy drinker. This is a wine I will absolutely be buying again. 

Drink to the Queen!

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Seems pretty fitting that on Her Majesty’s Birthday I raise a glass to the Queen. According to reports (and urban myths), the Queen is a fan of a cheeky  G&T – who could blame her? It’s such a mesmerising spirit and luckily its still riding the wave of a rise in popularity.

Tonight we’ll be toasting the monarch with a glass or two of the Opihr Oriental Spiced London Dry Gin. It was bought as a gift for my boyfriends 30th a few weeks ago but I have a suspicion it was picked up for the beautiful label.

It’s a real belter of a Gin, as soon as we opened the bottle the aromas of cardamom and cumin hit our noses. That’s all twisted with hints of citrus, especially burnt orange peel. Although it’s a real feast for the nose its totally balanced on the palate. It’s a little smoky, full of spice and really smooth. We had a good quality tonic to pair with it and it’s worth it. I wouldn’t even suggest a slice of lemon or lime with it as it’s packing enough flavour. I highly recommended if your looking to show another Gin fan a real taste explosion.

Here’s to the Queen!

Why I picked up a right Wrong ‘un

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Wine labels create debate. In theory it should be about what is inside the bottle (aww) but packaging does matter when your making snap decisions on what to buy. Especially if your sharing it with someone or putting it on the table for dinner with friends.

First impressions count and so gimmicky wine labels have always annoyed me. Not because I think making a joke out of wine drinking is bad but because because it has sod all to do with the actual wine. What does an Elegant Frog have to do with Viognier? Sod all but some people are drawn to that kind of stuff.

It’s safe to say I was a bit distracted when I picked up a bottle of The Wrong ‘un at Sourced a few weeks ago. I was panic buying thinking we were having people over and I have shared enough of my secret stash so I had to grab something quick. I’m glad I did and they didn’t come over.

Apparently the One Chain has something to do with cricket but being a football fan I haven’t got a blooming clue what any of it means. Safe to say the contents were outstanding.

It’s 80% Shiraz and 20 Cabernet Sauvignon so it’s a pretty bold wine with lots of dark fruit flavours and that classic touch of spice. It’s also oaked so there are plenty of layers but the finish reminds me of the black wine gums. I like a rich heavy red but if you think you’ll need some food with something like this then get yourself some red meats or tomato based pasta dishes.

That teaches me not to judge a book by its cover.

 

Making the effort to find new wines

Red Wine, Uncategorized

January wasn’t a great month for me. For a few different reasons I lost my ‘wine mojo’ and it has really been getting to me. I went from being painfully specifc about what I wanted to just not caring and settling with bottles or styles I knew would be consistant. It’s far too easy to fall in to that trap and become dependent on the brand or bottles you know will taste as you expect.

It’s far to easy to pop to your local and pick up the same wine without even thinking about it. When I worked in the trade I couldn’t understand how people drank the same stuff all the time but I seemed to slip it to it myself. Why? I don’t really know. But I know I don’t like it.

So I am trying my best to get out of the wine funk I’m in and the first part is making the effort to find wines that I haven’t tried before. I popped in to Dickens House on Sunday and avoided all the bottles I was familar with in favour for something I wasn’t. It’s hard not to go for things you know you already enjoy but that’s the risk with wine and I’ve got to get back in to being happy to take that risk.

I picked up three different bottles and the first I’ve tried is the Terras Pegoes Vinho Tinto 2014 (£6.50). What a bargain! Portugal offers such brilliant value for money and this is certainly no exception. It’s made from the Castelão grape which I’m told is widely grown across Portugal but usually found in the south of the country. It’s rich, intense but beautifully fruity and has a really delicate floral hint to it. I’ve been opting for tannin heavy wines recently but this is the complete opposite. It has such a smooth palate that its dangerously easy to swig. The label says raspberry flavours but I am pretty sure I am getting just a little bit of red cherry.

So here’s to getting back on the wagon, sensibly of course 😉

 

 

Losing the local

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I’d been walking past my local for a few nights wondering why the curtains were closed. I assumed that maybe they were closing midweek to save a few quid and put their effort in to the weekend trade. I was wrong. The curtains had closed and so had the bar.

I was pretty devastated.

Most people have an opinion on why pubs are closing faster than ever. Be that cheaper drinks in the off trade, lack of food or even just lack of trade. It’s a subject that turns us all in to wannabe pub land/lords or ladies to start shouting Peggy Mitchel style: “I COULD RUN A PUB!”. We could all do it right? We could run a pub?

Before it closed down in early September, the Crown and Thistle wasn’t a pub I would have called particularly special. It was only little so as soon as you stepped in it was like walking in to a living room with a bar. The beers focused on local craft lager, ales and ciders and you could pay the cost of a pint to get 3 tasting samples instead. This was a pub with charm. The garden was an utter sun trap but was crowded with too many chairs so half the time the seats sunbathed more than any people. There were no televisions so no football or rugby apart from the furious updates someone would shout as they checked their phone.

All of the above pretty much sums up why The Crown and Thistle didn’t stand a chance against its rivals like The Three Daws and The Rum Puncheon. It’s not off the beaten track by any means but it is a pub on a side road outside of the hub of town which didn’t serve food. It (and by it I mean management) lived in a heady day dream where the locals would flock to the pub just because it was so magical.

It wasn’t magical. In fact in the light of day it was a bit of a dump and could have done with a bloody good clean. The owners let the jack-of-a-few-trades-master-of-pretty-much-nothing son look after it and eventually run it in to the ground. It wasn’t looked after and this is what I find the hardest part. It just wasn’t loved enough even by the people who had the most control to change things.

No word of yet as to what will happen to it but I have seen it being stripped of all its beer mats and miniatures. So sadly I bid my local a fond farewell and hope that if it stays a pub the new owners show it some well-deserved love.

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Saint Clair – Pioneer Block 7 Berry Block Sauvignon Blanc 2008

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I had developed quite a love affair with white wines, in particular anything from Saint Clair or New Zealand over the summer and started to feel the distinct yearnings for something refreshing to cleanse my taste buds. Winter is the time for reds, without a doubt but it’s always the end of January that see’s me trawling back on the whites.

So. I have a decision to make. It’s the beginning of Feb and after a Christmas full of situations involving the words ‘I’ll pay for those’, I was feeling ever so slightly light pocketed last week. Not to the point that I would need to stoop down to a fiver a bottle, oh no thats next week. I decided I would have a reasonably healthy budget to treat those taste buds.

As soon as I thought about what I wanted and more importantly what I was desperate to show the man, I knew what I had to buy – Saint Clair. And to quench that thirst for something refreshing, zesty and palate awakening was the Pioneer Block 2008 7 Sauvignon Blanc.

What makes this wine worth its average of £15 a bottle is it’s elegance, some cheap New Zealand Sauv’s can be overly sweet or dryer than paint stripper. Yet the balance of fruit to minerals in block 7 perfectly match to give you the citrus blast against a mineral edge that prolongs the flavor. On the nose, you can really pick up those grassy and nettle like notes mixed with a passion fruit sweetness. All match by its golden straw colour.

Across the board, Saint Clair produces amazing wines and this is absolutely a beautifully elegant example of a collection of wonderful wines.Very deserving of a 5/5

Tesco Wine by the case App

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I’m never one to pass on a good App, so I have to share my experience with the latest wine App to hit our iPhones, the ‘Tesco Wine by the case App’. There’s a few wine App’s creeping around at the moment, the Ocardo offers purchases on wine as well as on food and Berry Brothers have a wonderful little listing as an App. So wine does appear to be making an effort to enter a more digital age – but does this sort of thing work?

So I found some bottles lurking left over from the weekend and got testing! So first things first, when you load the App you get a rather basic page, no real instructions needed, you ‘Start here’.

You’ll then be taken to your camera where you take a picture of the label on the wine, trying to make sure you fit it into the blue lines.

From there, the wine finder kicks in and starts searching all over the place for your bottle and its details. Once its found it, you see a picture of your wine and it get’s added into a history section, so you can look back at past wines you’ve searched for.

You can rate the wine, read up on the ‘info’ tab to check all the vital details including food pairing, region and even a little bit on the history of the wine. You can also, and here’s what Tesco is hoping you do, go on to buy this wine.

What I liked most was the Discover tab where you can do a basic search for the sort of wine you like. Good for those after something a bit more specific.

The usability of this App is great, its simple to navigate round and great to quickly search for some more information when you standing in the supermarket. But that’s the thing, its only Tesco stocked wines. Whilst its a great move forward to eventually an online collection of wines in that sort of format, it still means that you are limited to what just one supermarket stocks.

Still, its a great App, handy to have and a good tool if like me, you get your food shopping from Tesco’s. There’s obviously scope for App’s like this and I think this is a real starter in some more wine App’s, programs and services peaking through in 2010.

a_little_wine rating: 4/5

Piccini Chianti Riserva

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Like a lot of the country last night, I was snowed in. I use the term lightly because if I really needed to get out, I could of. But a little voice said ‘No, stay in and have a glass of wine under your blanket on the sofa.’ The larger voice told me that this was what I had to do.

So, I cracked open the Piccini Chitanti Riserva – one of the left overs from the Christmas onslaught. Supprisingly there has been one or two bottles left over. They are saved, not forgotten about.

On to the drinking, being the daughter of a heavy Italian red drinking mother I know I like my reds full and so to speak – meaty. But finding cheap Chianti’s that pack a punch is quite difficult. The Piccini is from Tesco’s and often one of the discounted regulars at around £4.99 a bottle.

And for a cheap Chianti the Piccini line (who stock regularly to the major supermarkets) does it again by producing a ripe and fruitful easy drinking red. It still retains an element of distinction with subtle complex notes making it great for drinking on its own or with some mild cheeses. I have drunk this with red meat dishes and it does hold its weight without overpowering any of the food so it can be done.

A good bottle to have around for parties, or friends dropping in. 3/5