Monthly Archives: December 2011

Tesco Finest White Burgundy

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas so far! I’m off to Spain tomorrow to see in the New Year, so this is just a quick post (packing will probably take me all night) to tell you about this tasty little number from the Tesco Finest range.

If, like us, you have a fridge packed full of leftover turkey, gammon, pork, roast potatoes, mash potatoes, parsnips, brocolli and so on, which you plan on eating with pickles for the next week, or turning into some kind of pie, soup or bubble, you will need a simple, yet pleasing wine to accompany all of those flavours. This White Burgundy fits the bill nicely – at £7.79 per bottle, it’s affordable (for a Burgundy) and has apple and stone fruit flavours, as well as a subtle hint of vanilla oak.

It went very well with our Boxing Day buffet yesterday.

See you in 2012!


Leave a comment

Filed under Taste Test

Drinks for the big day

Christmas day is growing ever closer (happy Christmas eve eve!) and you should be thinking about chilling those white wines. I’ve already covered aperitifs (Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay with orange juice while we open presents? Be rude not to), so it’s about time we got stuck into Christmas dinner…

To accompany your prawn cocktail/ smoked salmon starter

Here you will need a crisp white wine such as Marks & Spencer’s enticing Cuvée Ressac Picpoul de Pinet 2010. I love this grape variety – it’s fresh, versatile and a real crowd-pleaser. For £7.99, it’s pretty good value too!

Tasty with turkey

Red or white? I say both! Pinot Noir and Burgundy would be the obvious choices, but (ever the Spanish wine fan) I recommend you try Rioja with your turkey and all the trimmings.

Gran Reserva Rioja wines are made with the finest grapes, are aged for at least five years, and are ideal for special feasts. Berberana Gran Reserva Rioja D’avalos, made from the Tempranillo grape, is silky and smooth, not too heavy and perfect for serving with turkey. Last time I was in Tesco, I stocked up on this wine as it was half price at £7.59 per bottle.

In terms of white, try an oaked Rioja such as Muga Blanco 2010. The buttery texture is dreamy with roasted vegetables and it makes a refreshing change from Chardonnay. You can usually get your hands on this wine for £8.99 when you buy 2 bottles or more bottles from Majestic, however it looks like they are out of stock! Instead, grab a bottle of Cune Barrel-Fermented Rioja 2009 from Waitrose Wine Direct.

Dessert wine

It has taken me a while to appreciate dessert wines, but in the right context, with a large bowl of pud, Tesco’s Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is full of sweet honey and juicy apricot flavours. Grab a half bottle for just £4.75, chill well and sip alongside chocolatey desserts.

If dessert wines aren’t your thing, serve Harveys Bristol Cream over ice with a slice of orange. The flavours of candied orange, dried fruit and toasted almond in this sherry will go perfectly with a mince pie or bowl of Christmas pud. Harveys is priced at £9.04 and is widely available across the UK.

Cheese board

Cheese and port go hand-in-hand (what’s not to love in that combination?) and Dow’s Master Blend Finest Reserve Port is half price at just £6.29 at Tesco (can you tell I shop in Tesco?!) Although it’s not the ‘finest’ port available, it has rich black fruit flavours on the palate, with a creamy mint chocolate element to it. Ideal with soft mild cheeses or chocolate truffles.

If you prefer a weightier cheese on your plate, try Aldi’s Bushland Premium Estate Barossa Valley Shiraz with a wedge of salty blue. Priced at just £4.99, this red is spicy and easy on the palate.

Any room left?

If so, I salute you! Treat yourself to a measure of Baileys Biscotti. Richer than your average, I doubt you’ll manage more than a thimble-full, but this creamy liqueur is warming with a subtle hint of almond. Baileys Biscotti is available in various supermarkets for £14.95 per bottle.

If you want me, I’ll be lounging on the sofa. Merry Christmas!

Leave a comment

Filed under Matching Wine with Food, Taste Test

Christmas aperitifs

Party season is in full swing and for many that means a glass or two of sparkling wine. There are plenty of options out there from Prosecco to Champagne, so here are some I’ve reviewed just for you!

Treat yourself

Champagne Jacquart, Brut Mosaïque NV, a blend of crus, grape varieties, vintages, aromas and flavours is a delight to drink. Pale yellow with a stream of fine bubbles, this Champagne has enticing aromas of pear, fig and almond, with underlying notes of honey and freshly baked bread. Usually £26.50 per bottle, you can now get 20% off 6 bottles at Great Western Wine.

On a budget

Casillero del Diablo Brut Reserva Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2009 is available from various retailers including Morrisons and Tesco for just £10.99. This sparkling wine has fresh flavours of lemon and lime, and for the price, would be perfect to enjoy alongside smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis as an alternative to Champagne.

Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay is a complete bargain at £6.99. If you are planning a Christmas party and need plenty to go around, this would be the perfect choice. Winner of several awards including the Silver best in class medal at the 2009 International Wine & Spirit Competition, this wine is crisp and dry. It is great enjoyed on its own or mixed with orange juice, Chambord or peach purée to make fruity sparkling cocktails.

Novelty value

Blue Nun has released a new sparkling Gold Edition white wine, complete with fine flecks of 22 carat gold leaf. Blue Nun has something of a bad reputation, but this wine is light and slightly sweet – ideal if you aren’t too keen on bone dry fizz.

Blue Nun Sparkling Gold Edition is available for £9.59 at Drinks Direct.

Something a little different

Sherry is somewhat polarising, but I love it! Tio Pepe, available for £8.99 from all major retailers and most independent wine merchants is a pale, dry fino sherry which matches perfectly with salty snacks and canapés. Tio Pepe should be served chilled and I’ll be enjoying mine alongside a bowl of salted peanuts and some olives.

In the next post, I’ll be letting you know what to drink with your Christmas turkey…


Filed under Taste Test

A Christmas cake alternative

Since my previous post, I’ve had a couple of requests for my* Christmas ginger cake recipe so here it is…

– 225g self raising flour
– 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 1tbsp ground ginger
– 1tsp ground cinnamon
– 1tsp ground mixed spice
– 115g butter (I often only have Clover and that works a treat)
– 115g dark muscovado sugar
– 115g black treacle
– 115g golden syrup
– 180ml milk (semi-skimmed is fine!)
– 50ml double cream (you can stick to milk if you’d prefer)
– 100g stem ginger in syrup, grated
– 1 egg
– 2tbsp Stone’s ginger wine (or similar)

For the icing:
– 30g icing sugar
– 1tsp lemon zest
– Juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (160°c for a fan oven)
2. Grease and line a 20cm round, 8cm deep cake tin
3. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices
4. Slowly heat the sugar, treacle, syrup, milk and cream on the stove until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to just below boiling point
6. Add the grated stem ginger to the flour mixture and slowly pour in the gooey treacle mixture, stirring as you go
7. Make a well in the centre and break in the egg. Add the ginger wine (or similar) and beat until the mixture forms a thick batter
8. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour
9. Use a skewer to check that it is cooked through, or gently press the top with your finger (it should bounce back)
10. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out
11. To make the icing, mix together icing sugar, lemon zest and juice until you have a smooth, runny consistency
12. Drizzle the icing in a pattern of your choice over the top of the cake (make sure it has cooled first!)

You can freeze this cake a month in advance and it makes a great alternative to traditional Christmas cake. I love it with a generous dollop of thick fresh cream.

*Actually, Tom Dolby of BBC Good Food can take the credit for this – I’ve just made some small tweaks and can confirm that it is delicious!

Leave a comment

Filed under Taste Test

Mulled wine alternatives

I am a huge fan of mulled wine – any excuse to have a warming mug-full and I’m there! On Friday evening, while putting up our Christmas decorations, we enjoyed this spicy ready-made version from Tesco (I know it’s easy to make your own but we were rather busy making the tree look beautiful!)

I won’t harp on about the joys of mulled wine like I did last year, but I will suggest some alternatives for those who aren’t as keen on the tipple as I am.

Mulled cider

This recipe, adapted from BBC Food, is a winner for me:

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
– 2l dry cider or fresh apple juice
– 2 apples studded with cloves
– 4-6 cinnamon sticks
– 1tsp all spice
– zest of 1 orange
– dash of dark rum (optional)
– slices of apple for garnish

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer gently for 30 minutes – do not boil. Serve with apple slices in glass mugs. Simple!

If mulling isn’t your thing, try Healey’s Classic Oak Matured Cyder. This oak aged cyder is just on the fence between sweet and dry and leaves a lingering fruity finish. More complex than your average Magners, this has a somewhat festive feel. Available to buy online for £4.34 per bottle.


I love ginger whether it’s in cakes, biscuits, drinks, stir fries… the possibilities are endless… so when I was sent various samples of ginger wine, both alcoholic and non, I was excited to give them a try!

Gran Stead’s ‘Light and Fiery’ ginger wine

Light this is not, fiery (cough) it is! Despite its punchy finish, I loved this drink. It would be the perfect alternative to whisky for scotch lovers, or a great mixer to accompany scotch. Not for the faint hearted, but definitely worth a try. Gran Stead’s drinks are available online and from various stockists throughout the UK.

Stone’s ginger wine

This is made from a centuries-old recipe and is a traditional favourite at Christmas in my house. With a richer, more mellow taste than the non-alcoholic ginger from Gran Stead’s, Stone’s Ginger Wine Special Reserve (£6.99 in Waitrose), with raisins and ground ginger would go down a treat with a mince pie on Christmas Eve. I’ll be adding a dash to my Christmas ginger cake ingredients this year.

The fruity option

Shloer berry punch

This is a little sweet and concentrated for my liking (dilute with sparkling water to make it go further) but if you usually enjoy a crisp, cool rosé, pour Shloer’s berry punch over slices of pear for a sparkling and fruity alcohol-free alternative. Shloer is available in various flavours for £2.29 from most large supermarkets. The berry punch is a limited edition so you’ll have to be quick!


Filed under Taste Test

Win a bottle of wine!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be letting you know what drinks to enjoy alongside the festivities in a series of Christmas blog posts, so if you’re not sure what to partner with your Christmas turkey this year, stay tuned for some tips.


As it’s the season to be jolly, I thought I would kick off by offering you the chance to win a bottle of wine that has featured on GrapeChoice. Just leave a message below letting me know which is your favourite out of all of the drinks I have written about, and you could be the lucky recipient of that drink.

This weekend, I’ll be reviewing mulled wine alternatives while putting up my Christmas tree. See you on Sunday!

Terms and Conditions
– Competition closes at midnight on the 15th December 2011
– Entrants must be UK residents aged over the age of 18
– Only one entry per person will be permitted
– If the winning drink is unavailable in the UK, an alternative will be sent to the winner
– The winner will be revealed on the 16th December 2011 and the prize sent out within 2 weeks of announcement upon receipt of the delivery address



Filed under Taste Test