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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Blind Drunk

Pre-wine tasting egg & bacon
breakfast (not incl. wine)
I've spent the last couple of days at The Oval, but I'm not there for the cricket. (I once asked Andrew Strauss if he was following The Ashes, not realising he was the England captain at the time but that's another story). As ever, I'm there for the wine. Specifically, judging the latest round of the International Wine Challenge: two hundred wines in two days, all tasted blind (the bottles are concealed in bags) and judged on quality alone by wine experts from all over the world. It's the most fantastic snapshot of what's hot - and what's not. Here's what I've found:

1. A taste of pink champagne is not a bad way to start the day, even if you do have to spit it out.
2. Barbera d'Asti, the sprightly, juicy red from northern Italy, is having a moment.
3. Muscadet Sur Lie might not be fashionable, but the good ones are fabulous.
4. Argentinian Malbec is a good bet when faced with a wine list full of unfamiliar wines.
5. If anyone offers to buy you a bottle of 2009 vintage port, say yes.
6. The colour of red wine made from the Spanish Graciano grape would make a brilliant nail varnish.
7. Australian Chardonnays are so much more fun to drink than they used to be.
8. Cheap South African reds, however, still not so much.
9. Next time you want to try an unusual Sparkling, ask for a Brazilian. No longer a hairy experience.

Current white in the fridge: Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2014, £5.99 on offer, Waitrose
The Spiky Pig (as it's known around here, thanks to the label) is on offer, so boots have been filled. Made by a winery with a really long name - Boekenhoutskloof - this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes sourced from across the Western Cape in South Africa. All gooseberries and tropical fruit flavours, there's something about it that makes it stand out from the crowded shelves of Sauvignon (not just because of the label). It's just-right juicy and fresh. Pour, sit, relax. 

Current red in the rack: Taste The Difference Sierra de Andia Navarra 2012, £7.25, Sainsbury's
A Spanish red blend from Navarra, a region not far from Rioja, made from the Garnacha (that's Grenache) and Tempranillo grapes - along with some Graciano. You know, the one that would make a gorgeous nail varnish colour. And this one tastes of blueberries, blackberries and spice. Not nail varnish, happily. Completely delicious, especially when sipped in front of the fire with Masterchef: The Professionals on the telly, having devoured leftover lasagne. 

Peace out, winos x

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bottom of the Glass

Best party trick ever. 
So, today a space probe landed on a comet for the first time. And Kim Kardashian balanced a champagne glass on her bum. Guess which one broke the internet? But here's the tragic part. All I could think when I saw the photo of KK was goodness, what spillage! Still, she looks like she's having a wonderful time. And looks a-mazing. Go her. In the meantime, I will continue to perfect the art of balancing a handful of wasabi peas in one hand, a glass of wine in the other and a book on my lap. Talking of which, if anyone's looking for a good wine book to buy someone for Christmas - apart from mine, obviously *does best smile* - then a couple of lovely books have come my way recently. Based on the brilliant WineTubeMap, Nikki Welch has written The Pocket Guide to Wine (link here). Stuffed with facts, it's a great read for anyone wanting a whistle-stop tour of grapes, regions and styles. And for those with an interest in natural wines (organic/biodynamic, low-intervention wines - the book explains all) then Isabelle Legeron's Natural Wine (link here) is a beautiful, thought-provoking book, both to read and look at. Now, anyone seen my champagne glass?

Current sparkling in the fridge: Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco, £6.99 on offer, Tesco
Bloody brilliant Prosecco from a lovely producer, at an amazing price (it's usually £9.99). Floral, frothy and marvellously more-ish. If Kim had used this to do the champagne-glass-on-ass thing, she would have still broken the internet without breaking the bank. Much more practical. 

Current red in the rack: Saint Joseph Rouge Soulane 2011, £18.99, Naked Wines
Sent to me by Naked (rather apt, given the other front cover KK's done for Paper), this is a glorious Rhone red from the Saint Joseph region. Made from the Syrah (aka Shiraz) grape, it wraps you up like a big wool blanket (not as soft as cashmere, this one) and hits the taste buds with thick black fruits and spice. I think the 2011 might have sold out now - it won a ton of awards - but I'll be trying the 2012 after loving this one. Needs food with lots of flavour. 

Peace out, winos x

Disclosure: The Pocket Guide to Wine was a complementary copy sent for review. Natural Wine was a birthday present from the Husband. Clever him.   

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wrapped Up

Every year, when the temperature drops, I do the jumper swap. Away go the 286 breton-stripped tops that I own (I've been buying them since 1988; never got the memo about horizontal stripes and big boobs). Out come the chunky knits and in them I stay until at least March. Except, when I sorted through the chunky knit drawer, there wasn't a colour pop to be found. Black, navy and grey marl are my friends (I did get that memo) but really, it all just looked a bit dull. Obviously, work prevented me for looking at some of my favourite clothes blogs including The Frugality and Online Stylist for ooh, about an hour. Divine inspiration indeed. 

In other news, half term flew. We had a few days away in Cornwall and before that, the children came with me to film last week's Alan Titchmarsh Show. They got to dress up in Halloween gear, have their faces painted and try spooky drinks. Unsurprisingly, they screwed their faces up at pumpkin smoothies. As did Alan on his first taste of tequila, ever. For years, I wasn't mad about it but then a friend introduced me to the proper stuff and I saw what the fuss was about. The fact that I was in a bar called The Pink Chihuahua only added to the experience, I feel. Anyway, we featured this one on the show, from 31dover.com. With its painted skull-shaped bottle, think instant colour pop.

Current white in the fridge: Caruso e Minini Grecanico 2012, £6.99, M&S
Made by the same crew behind the brilliant M&S Perricone, a perky red that if you haven't yet tried, you must. Call it homework. Anyway, this is an equally perky white made from the Grecanico grape, in Sicily. Definitely fresh, a bit floral and a bit more orange blossom. Makes a great change to Sauvignon Blanc - not quite as herby - and lighter than a Chardonnay from this neck of the woods. Purdy label, too. 

Current red in the rack: Domaine de Gourget Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013, £5.99, Lidl
Ridiculously cheap red from the Cotes du Rhone, in France. The 'Villages' bit tells us that in theory it's better quality than the more generic Cotes du Rhone-labelled wines. In this case, absolutely. Made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah, it's bright, juicy, fresh and full of redcurrant and cherry fruits. A small glass with a plate of chicken risotto (homemade stock, check me out) made for a frugal, feel good meal. 

Peace out, winos x

Ps. The Boys stepped in to pick a name out of the hat for Hugh F-W's new book (my mother was away on holiday). See them here (no idea how I managed to turn the sound off) reveal the winner - congratulations Jennifer Palmer! Email me at knackered mother @ gmail dot com and a copy will be with you asap. Thank you to everyone who took part and thanks to Ellen at Bloomsbury. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Half Term Treat

Hooray for half term. Sort of. As we crawl towards it, I'm half-excited, half-panicking. Excited about not having to set the alarm quite so early. Panicking about fitting in some work. The children are most excited about Halloween, obviously. Which has turned into a monster (pun intended). They usually come back from Trick or Treating with such an enormous haul of treats, I'm able to syphon off enough Haribo to fuel my own sweet habit for months. I'll be making up the usual batch of eyeball jellies (blueberry in a lychee in a glassful of jelly) along with something fizzy for the adults, of course. In the meantime, I have a treat for one of you. I met Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when filming The Alan Titchmarsh Show recently and I've got a signed copy of his latest book, Light & Easy (£25, Bloomsbury) to give away. Just leave a comment on the blog here or on the KMWC facebook page and we'll pick a winner after half term*. 

Current white in the fridge: Territorio Torrontes 2013, £6.49, Tesco
I was sent this Argentinian white to try (don't cry for me). From one of the highest and driest vineyard locations in the world, in the north of Argentina. The grape is called Torrontes, not really found anywhere but here. And the style is decidedly floral, with a kind of lemony, jasmine thing going on. Light but not feeble, it's gorgeous. And great value. Loved my crab and avocado on toast (one of my favourite quick suppers when the Husband's away).  

Current red in the rack: Vinalba Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot, £7.50 (currently on offer), Sainsbury's
Another Argentinian wine, this time from the southernmost wine region. If you like big reds, this is one such. Made from a blend of traditional Bordeaux grapes, it's then aged in French barrels giving it a lovely oaky flavour along with masses of brambly black fruits. Proper autumnal wine, this one. Just add a sofa, blanket and a book. Half term happiness guaranteed. 

Peace out, winos x

*T&Cs:
1. Competition closes on 31st October at 11.59pm (spooky).
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.
3. My mother will pick out a name at random and her decision is final (it's her hat).