Monthly Archives: September 2012

A hint of spice

The aromatic flavours and rich texture of Viognier make it the perfect varietal to pair with spicy oriental food, and Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier is one of my favourites. Priced at just £6.98 in Asda, it is also excellent value and a real crowd-pleaser!

Full-bodied with notes of apricot and ripe lemon, this white wine is lively, well-balanced and perfectly compliments intense flavours in food. Enjoy it alongside this Chinese salmon recipe with a light vegetable stir fry.

Chinese salmon parcels

Ingredients – serves 4
1tsp five spice paste
1 small hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1tbsp cooking wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch fresh mint, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced
2cm root ginger, grated
1tbsp honey
4 salmon fillets

1. Preheat the oven to 190°c (170°c for a fan oven)
2. In a large bowl, mix the five spice paste, chilli, cooking wine, lemon juice, mint, lemongrass, ginger, and honey
3. Add the salmon fillets, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate for 20 minutes
4. Wrap each salmon fillet loosely in foil with some of the marinade
5. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the flesh is flaky and opaque
6. Serve with stir fried vegetables and a splash of soy sauce


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I’m sorry it’s been so long! After a whirlwind weekend in Italy, I managed to pull a muscle in my back and develop a horrendous headcold so wine-drinking and blog-writing haven’t been high on my list of priorities. Anyway, I’m back now and just have to let you know how amazing Italy is!

During the four days we were there we managed to fit in Florence, Chianti, and Pisa…

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

The poolside view from Inn Farm House La Presura in Strada, Chianti

The incredible Leaning Tower of Pisa

Of course, no trip to Italy would be complete without an obscene amount of carbs and wine!

Chianti in traditional bell-bottomed bottles and ‘fiasco’ – straw baskets

The cellars of Castello di Verrazzano, where you can partake in wine tasting and a light lunch for around €28

A selection of delicious Chianti from Castello di Verrazzano

Wine tasting at Le Cantine– just load a winecard with cash and get sampling for as little as 60 cents a taste!

Home-cooked steak carved fresh at the butchers (with pasta and Chianti of course)

Cantucci e Vin Santo (holy wine) – a traditional dessert from Tuscany

If you’re planning on visiting the Chianti region, I would highly recommend that you hire a car. While the locals are very friendly and surprisingly willing to offer lifts to stranded tourists wandering down the road, the buses only come once every hour or three and you’d be hard-pushed to get one past 8pm!

In the meantime, if you’re after some Chianti in the UK, Waitrose have a pretty good selection! Try the Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico – with sour cherry flavours and a delicious sweet spiciness this red, made from 100% Sangiovese, is a delightful wine outside of Italy!

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World class wines from Germany

I am a sucker for good quality German Riesling and at the VDP Rheingau tasting last Thursday, there were plenty of delicious wines on offer from 15 top producers – from dry, racy trocken to full-bodied, smooth spätlese.

The VDP (‘Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter’ – Association of German Quality and Prädikat Wine Estates) is the world’s oldest association of wine estates made up of 200 German wine producers, and it is from these that some incredibly special German wines originate.

At Thursday’s tasting the focus was on the 2011 vintage from the Rheingau region of Germany – the George Müller Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Riesling Erstes Gewächs with its ripe stone fruit flavours and intense minerality was a personal favourite of mine.

As well as showcasing the 2011 vintage, Thursday’s tasting gave attendees the chance to taste some spectacular older wines such as the Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach 1959 Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese. Surprisingly fruity for its age with complex aromas and a rich, silky finish, this was a treat to taste.

The tasting demonstrated what deliciously versatile wines Germany has to offer and with Riesling’s ageing potential you can enjoy them for many years to come.

Here are two more of my top picks…

Hans Lang Riesling Charta trocken 2011

Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg Riesling Kabinett 2011

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Ridgy-Didge Chardonnay 2011

If you’re after a nice, easy drinking white wine, this Australian Chardonnay is ideal. Available for £6.99 from Tesco, it’s peachy and ripe with flavours of delicately spiced apples and fresh melon.

It is notoriously tough to match wine with curry – you either need a touch of sweetness to offset the spice or an equivalent or greater level of intensity of flavours. Generally speaking, I’d go for an aromatic Gewürztraminer, an off-dry German Riesling, or a toasty, full-bodied Chardonnay. Despite the lightness of the unoaked Ridgy-Didge Chardonnay, it was delicious alongside mango chutney and poppadoms, followed by this quick and easy lamb biryani.

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