Tag Archives: wine tasting

UK Wine Hour – Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

Last week I was invited along to the first UK Wine Hour event in Manchester. It took place in the beautiful (beautiful is a wild understatement here) and ancient surroundings of the Baronial Hall at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. It was a small but perfectly formed event in a stunning venue, with lots of new and interesting wines to try.

UK Wine Hour is a “Twitter Hour” where interested people chat along on Twitter, swapping wine tips, asking questions and generally celebrating wine. UK Wine Hour runs 7-8pm on Thursdays with the hashtag #UKWineHour. This was the first UK Wine Hour Live event in Manchester, there have been others in London, but Northern wine lovers got their turn last week.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

The Baronial Hall was packed with wine merchants, large and small, offering their wares for tasting. Some had just two or three wines to try, some had a fairly large number of bottles to choose from. Personally, I found myself drawn to the merchants with just a few well chosen bottles. 

I had decided to start with fizz, then white, red and then fortified wines. I was pleased to see English fizz represented by the Exton Park Vineyard in Hampshire, but my favourite on the day was a Viña Pomal Rioja Cava which I don’t think is quite yet readily available in the UK, but worth pestering your local wine shop about.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

We were spoilt for white wine on the night, I think most of the room were quite taken by the Hungarian wines from Disznókö – one of the largest estates in the Tokaji region of Hungary, located in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. The Dry Furmint 2016 (£14.99 from Oxford Wines) was a real find.

I loved all three of the wines offered by Didsbury-based Reserve wines. This delicious Oliver Zeter Nussriegel Riesling Trocken 2016 (above) at £15.99 was a real favourite and one I will be seeking out next time I’m on Burton Road. 

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

In terms of good reds, I was drawn to the wonderfully named Gnarly Head from California Wines which was described as having “rich, dark berry flavours with layers of plum, pepper, cola and chocolate”. It certainly packed an enjoyable punch!

I’m not normally a sherry or port drinker, but I was persuaded to try two ports, including a rather good 10 Year Old Tawny, £22.99, available from Waitrose. I also tried an astonishingly rich wine – Marques De La Vega Pedro Ximenez which tasted like Christmas pudding in a glass. I believe it will sell for around £15 a bottle once it reaches the UK. It is utterly delicious, a very good bargain and it’s on my Christmas list already.

I’m no expert, but I enjoy tasting and learning about wine. I didn’t feel even slightly intimidated by the event, it was so friendly. It was just the right size, with approximately 60 different wines in the room, so plenty to try but not too many that you’re overwhelmed. I think I tried around 20 different wines and discovered some real gems. UK Wine Hour Live events don’t happen on a very regular basis, but at £15 a ticket, a selection of some really great wines and a really friendly atmosphere I know I’ll be going to the next one.

Find out more, follow UK Wine Hour on Twitter. Join in the #UKWineHour chat on Thursday evenings, 7-8pm.

Three Wine Men – fantastic fizz & festive wines for 2016

Over the weekend I went to the Three Wine Men event at Manchester Town Hall. This was a festival of all things wine hosted by the Three Wine Men – Oz Clarke, Olly Smith and Tim Atkin. There were two huge rooms full of wine to taste and to buy. I went along with my friend and fellow wine enthusiast Pippa to discover some new wines. I’ve chosen my favourite wines from the day, some of which will definitely be gracing my festive table this year.

Three Wine Men

Very good vino

From decent everyday wines, to something special to go with Christmas dinner, there were hundreds of wines to choose from. Here were six of my favourites – 

Cantina di Monteforte Soave Superiore Classico (Veneto, Italy) from Rude Wines – £8.99 a bottle. This is a beautifully balanced Soave, well rounded with a splash or citrus. An excellent every day drink and perfect for a warm summer evening.

Irresistible Limestone Rise 2015 (Surrey, England) from the Co-op priced at £7.99. I’m delighted to find such an affordable English wine at the Co-op, I love English wines, generally they are dry and a little flinty which is something I like in a wine. The Limestone Rise is produced in the Surrey hills by award-winning English wine producer, Denbies and is made from a blend of Bacchus and Ortega grapes. At £7.99 it is a good value wine and one I’ll be looking out for. 

Three Wine Men

SPAR Gavi 2014 (Piemonte, Italy) priced at £8. Gavi is one of those names you look out for and they can be on the pricey side. This Gavi from SPAR is very affordable and worth seeking out if you have a SPAR local to you.

Spreitzer “Oestricher Lenchen” Riesling Kabinett 2014 (Rheingau, Germany) this was enthusiastically recommended to us by none other than Oz Clarke, who nigh on evangelised about German wines. This flinty little number is available from GK Winehouse and costs £19 per bottle. 

Gran Vista Garnacha 2015 Campo de Borja features in the latest edition of BBC Good Food Magazine. It’s a very easy drinking and wonderfully affordable red which costs just £4.99 from the Co-op. Rich and fruity, it is light on the tannins which makes it easy drinking. This is definitely one to look out for.

Three Wine Men

The last of my wine picks is this cracking red from the Co-op. The Château Sénéjac 2012 (Haut-Médoc, France) is an excellent wine to have with Christmas dinner. Priced at £16.99, this is a bottle with depth. Packed with blackcurrant, cherry and hints of vanilla, this is a bottle which will please red wine lovers.

Festive Fizz

Despite trying all the fizz at the festival, I just kept coming back to the same bottle. It’s pink, it’s girlie looking, but it’s an astonishingly good quality fizz from the Co-op. The Borgo Molino Rose NV (Veneto, Italy) is £9.99 a bottle and is available in just 500 Co-op stores. 

Crisp, refreshing and the most prefect way to kick off the festivities this Christmas this is top of my shopping list (and perfect for my forthcoming spa break with some friends next weekend). It’s even better than the Co-op prosecco, which was until now my favourite fizz. Track down a bottle and treat yourself. You won’t regret it!

Three Wine Men

Something special

Three Wine Men was mostly wine, but there were some fortified wines and spirits. I love a good gin and the Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin was a fruity favourite. It would be great with prosecco or in a lovely cocktail. It’s around £35 a bottle (though I have seen it cheaper online) and something a little different for your cocktail cabinet.

No Christmas dinner would be complete without a drop of port and a good cheeseboard. The Co-op have once again come up trumps with this 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV (Douro, Portugal) at £13.99 a bottle. I’m not much of a port drinker, but this tawny port is one which suits me, deep and spicy but not over the top. It had me dreaming about wedges of Stilton on good crackers and a roaring log fire!

Three Wine Men

Tickets to Three Wine Men were £27.50 which gave you three hours to enjoy the festival and the chance to sample all of the wines and spirits in the building. If you are a wine lover or a wine learner, it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and will leave you rosy cheeked and giggling on the tram home. 

We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Three Wine Men introduced me to some new wines and it helped to get me out of my wine buying rut, which is no bad thing.

You can find out more about the Three Wine Men festivals on their website.

What will you be drinking this Christmas?

We were invited guests of The Co-op, but all images and opinions are our own. Each wine mentioned I genuinely loved and will buy again (and again).

A Vintage Evening at Didsbury Lounge

Being a helpful, affable type, it’s in my nature to answer pleas for help and to do what I can to help my fellow man (or indeed woman). With this in mind I donned my expert wine tasters cape (yes, I do have one) and toddled off to Didsbury Lounge to help them decide what wines to add to their existing wine list.

Despite the fact I’d miss out on the final of GBBO, I considered it my duty to ride to the rescue, ensuring the good people of Didsbury will have top notch wine to quaff on the run up to Christmas. I’m incredibly selfless; you’re picking up on that aren’t you?

We were guided through a veritable sea of wines by Noel Reid, Wine & Spirits Manager from Robinsons Brewery. I felt in expert hands, Noel is a former international wine judge and an expert wine taster. Noel, (the lucky pup) basically gets to travel the world drinking wine for a living, or as he put it “sourcing exceptional wines”.

We tried a range of wines (listed below), but fear not, I’m not going to get all Jilly Goulden on you and start prattling on about hints of gerbil or that the wine tastes like freshly mown meadows or what not.

  • Frederico Pinot Grigio Collezione
  • Finca Los Alijares Viognier
  • Verdicchio Dei Castello Di Jesi Manciano Bonci
  • Sancerre Blanc Serge Laloue
  • Durius Reserve Syrah 2007
  • Rolling Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
  • Tiasta Malbec Reserve
  • Casarena Single Vineyard Perdriel Malbec
  • Montelvini Asolo Prosecco Millesimato Extra Dry

They were all good wines, some were great wines and some I wanted to take home and marry. Not everyone agreed on which wines we preferred, so there really was something to please everyone. Not all the wines listed above will make the final cut, but my standout favourites were the Sancerre and the Casarena Malbec. All of the wines I’d happily drink again and again and again though.

Didsbury loungeThankfully the good people of Didsbury Lounge were kind enough to reward our wine quaffing generosity by laying on some nibbles from their new menu. We had sticky rice balls, salmon mousse, aubergine dip, hummus, falafel, tzatziki and some still warm bread.

For me a highlight was the falafel, which were crispy and spicy. Falafel can often be bland afterthoughts, but these really hit the spot for me. I also really loved the sticky rice balls which had a warming hint of Thai spice with a crispy, crunchy exterior. I’ll be back for more of them. Possibly for breakfast in the morning. Who knows.

We finished the evening with a glass of Prosecco (this is Didsbury after all). It was a very fine prosecco, just the right level of dryness for me. I believe magnums of this delicious prosecco are available on Saturday nights for a bargain £25. You know where to find me on Saturdays now!

So next time you’re sipping a rather special Sancerre in Didsbury Lounge, spare a thought for this selfless blogger and all the hard work she put in to ensure you, yes you, only get the best. You’re welcome.

Didsbury Lounge can be found at 43 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, M20 6TW, Tel: 0161 434 2408 http://www.didsburylounge.co.uk/

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Didsbury Lounge and were not asked to pay for any of the food or drink we had.