Category Archives: Drink

Healthy Recipe: Refreshing Lifeway Kefir Ice Lollies

The recent heatwave has meant that we’ve been having fruity ice lollies as an afternoon snack to help us cool down. I’ve been mostly making these with weak squash, but to mix things up a little I’ve made a few batches of kefir ice lollies using Lifeway Kefir.

Lifeway Kefir is America’s leading kefir manufacturer which has recently launched in the UK. Kefir is a live and active cultured milk smoothie with a tangy taste and a creamy consistency, a bit like a drinkable yogurt. It’s just the thing for an on the go breakfast or for a snack for children.

Healthy Recipe: Refreshing Lifeway Kefir Ice Lollies

Kefir is considered to be a good source of probiotics (healthy bacteria) and calcium. There’s a really good article on the health benefits of kafir on the BBC Good Food website if you want to know more about it.

Lifeway Kefir is currently stocked in all Booths supermarkets in the North West and is currently available in four different flavours; plain, strawberry, blueberry and mango. We were sent some samples to try, and with the weather being hot, the first thing I did was make some kefir ice lollies. These kefir ice lollies are about the simplest thing you could possibly make, seriously.

Healthy Recipe: Refreshing Lifeway Kefir Ice Lollies

Kefir Ice Lollies

You will need:
1 250ml bottle of your favourite flavour of Lifeway Kefir
Ice lolly moulds
A freezer

How to make your Kefir ice Lollies:
Shake your bottle of Lifeway Kefir and pour equal amounts of the kefir into your ice lolly moulds. Carefully place the moulds in the freezer and let them freeze for at least 4 hours. It might take longer depending on the size of your moulds.

The kefir ice lollies can cheerfully stay in your freezer for up to a month. When you are ready to eat them; pour a mug of hot water, dip your lolly mould into it for 10 seconds and that helps release the lolly from the mould. You are now free to enjoy your lolly.

Healthy Recipe: Refreshing Lifeway Kefir Ice Lollies

If you enjoy yoghurt I think kefir will float your boat. It appeals to me as a mum because it’s handy to have a few bottles in the fridge to cater for kids tummy rumbles over the summer holidays. We liked the range of flavours, though the blueberry and mango flavours were by far the most popular among my crew. I think they’d be great over cereals too.

My son often has to take antibiotics and we’ve been advised to give him probiotic drinks to help top up the good bacteria in his gut. These Lifeway kefir drinks are just the kind of thing we would give him to drink each day. They’re tasty, they’re healthy and they make darn good ice lollies!

You can find Lifeway kefir in selected Booths stores.

Disclaimer: We were send some samples in exchange for this write up. All images and opinions are our own.

Healthy Recipe: Refreshing Lifeway Kefir Ice Lollies

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I really enjoy cooking with wine. Not just the kind of cooking where you’ve got a glass of wine on the go to keep you company while you stir the pot; but the kind where you use a whole bottle and slowly cook a piece of meat until it virtually falls apart. This week I made an unctuous Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock using virtually a whole bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé, and it was worth the wait.

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I’ve recently decided to make more of an effort to buy better quality meat. So this week I popped to our local butchers, Little Pigs in Didsbury to pick up some sausages and chicken. I spied a ham hock for £3.50. I’ve never cooked with ham hock before, but after a chat with the butcher he gave me a few tips and off I went to have a think about what I was going to do with it.

I decided that low and slow would be the way to go with my ham hock. Braised in a bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé and some herbs for three hours, I had a feeling it would be good. I was almost right, it was great!

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I thought a bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé would work well with the ham hock. It’s a crisp rosé made from a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes and it has hints of redcurrants and aniseed. It’s a lovely, easy drinking rosé, and just the thing to drink on a summer evening.

My Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock does take some time to cook to perfection, but the results are well worth taking some time over.

Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

Ingredients:
1 red onion, sliced
1 Ham Hock
A bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
2 tablespoons of runny honey
1 tablespoon of English mustard

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Wash your ham hock under running water, if you don’t do this it will be so salty it will be virtually inedible. Put your ham hock in a large lidded casserole dish and add the sliced red onion, wine, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. You might need to top up the liquid in the pot up with some water, it should just about cover the ham hock.

Put the lid on the dish and put in the oven for 3 hours. Make sure you check it every hour or so, adding extra water if it needs it and turning the meat in the pot. When it’s ready the meat should just fall off the bone.

Remove the meat from the dish and set aside. Sieve the liquid in the casserole dish into a pan and reduce the amount of liquid by about half. This just means simmer it until there is half the liquid in the pan than when you started. Add the honey and mustard and whisk them into the sauce.

Take the meat off the bone and remove the layer of fat from the meat. Lay the meat in a roasting tin. Pour over the reduced liquid and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes, turning and basting the meat half way through. Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of the sticky sauce.

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I served my Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock with creamy polenta and asparagus; but it would be great on buttery mashed potato or served in a similar way to pulled pork.

For just £3.50 we got a really good meal for four people. The rosé really helped to give the rich glossy sauce a distinctive flavour. For such a delicate wine, the Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé made such a robust sauce. Delicious!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try my slow cooked beef in red wine.

Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

Disclosure: I was sent some Marques De Caceres wine to use in a recipe. All images and opinions are my own.

Christmas Recipe: Non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine

I love mulled wine at Christmas. From around mid-November I start getting excited for the day I can officially treat myself to a warming glass of spiced mulled wine. It’s a treat I do want to share with my family, but with it being quite boozy it’s not that suitable for 7 year old boys. My solution is to make Vimto Mulled Wine instead, something which also speaks loudly to my proud Mancunian patriotism.

Mulled wine, or Glühwein, Glögg if you’re feeling continental is usually made from red wine infused with spices and served hot. Red wine is warmed and then steeped in a combination of spices usually including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and coriander. In Europe, mulled wine has been drunk for centuries during the cold winter months and is a lovely warming festive drink.

Christmas Recipe: Non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine

This non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine is such a delicious treat. If you use one of those mulled wine sachets you can buy, this is a really simple and lovely recipe. It’s really quick to make and it’s a lovely non-alcoholic festive treat for all the family.

Non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine

Ingredients
Vimto cordial, sugar-free is fine
1 sachet of Steenbergs Organic Mulled Wine Spices
Water
Sugar (optional)

Method
Boil a kettle of water and pour enough boiling water for however many cups of mulled Vimto you’ll need into a jug. Add a sachet of Steenbergs Organic Mulled Wine Spices and leave to steep for 5 – 10 minutes or so.

Remove the sachet and add Vimto cordial to taste, stir to make sure it’s all combined. Taste and add sugar if you think it needs it (depending on how sweet your sweet tooth is).

Pour into nice heat-proof glasses and serve. If you’re feeling fancy you could float a slice of orange on the top, or serve it with a cinnamon stick.

Christmas Recipe: Non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine

There you have it, lovely warming spiced mulled wine that’s suitable for all the family.

PS. You don’t have to use Steenbergs; but it’s what I had in the cupboard and they’re my go-to brand of mulled wine spices.

Christmas Recipe: Non-alcoholic Vimto Mulled Wine

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

Last week I visited Veeno in Manchester with a friend to try their Selezione Wine Tasting Experience. Veeno is an Italian Wine Café which first opened in Manchester in 2013 and now has 15 cafés across the UK. We went along to try one of their wine tasting experiences, but what did we think?

The tasting experience we opted for was their Selezione wine tasting which costs £26.90 per person. This features five wines from their family vineyard in Sicily. Each wine is paired with a range of spuntini appetisers; an array of meats, cheeses and other appetisers imported from strictly selected Italian producers and presented on a sharing platter.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

We arrived at Veeno Manchester and we were shown to our table by Sam, our wine guide for the afternoon. We were offered a glass of prosecco (£6 each) and we chatted and looked at the list of wines we were going to try during the next two hours. All of the Veeno “family wines” come from Caruso & Minini, the family vineyard in Sicily and the wine list is extensive and well considered.

Sam soon came over with our Italian nibbles. He explained that each element on the platter would be paired with a wine, so we resisted the urge to eat the whole platter in one go. A remarkable show of restraint on our part.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

We began with a small glass of Grillo, a soft, buttery white wine which paired beautifully with the mozzarella and was dangerously easy to drink. Next up was a glass of Zibibbo, a delightfully and surprisingly floral wine which reminded us both of Turkish delight, which was a good thing. This was one of my most favourite wines from the afternoon. Again this was matched with a cheese, this time a delicately smoked scamorza affumicata.

Moving on to the Syrah Rosato Tasari, I’m not a great fan of rosé. I worry that all rosé is cheap, nasty pink stuff made for people who don’t really like wine. I need to get over that prejudice and this helped. The Syrah Rosato Tasari was matched to the parma ham; which as a veggie I couldn’t eat but made an approximation from the mozzarella and olives.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

Our next tipple was a glass of Perricone, a hearty but not heavy red with beautiful black cherry flavours. This was matched with some bresola, which again I couldn’t sample but nibbled at the cheese and olives instead.

Last of the wines was the Nero D’avola which I described as “not shy”. This was rich and fruity, almost like Christmas cake fruits. This was paired with Gorgonzola and walnut which was almost a revelatory experience. The Nero D’avola was so intensely flavoured, it felt like it needed to be sipped in front of a roaring fire. What a find!

To finish off our Veeno wine tasting experience we were given a large portion of tiramisu to share and a small glass of Marsala wine each. The tiramisu was a great end to the meal and the Marsala sent us out into the cool autumn chill with a nice warm glow.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

The experience took around two hours. It was nicely paced without either of us feeling pressured into downing our drinks to move on to the next one. Each glass was a 70ml measure, which was plenty. The experience costs £26.90 per person and we felt it was a fair price; especially given the quality of food, drink and expertise on offer.

Sam was excellent, very helpful and knowledgeable. He took us through each wine; explaining about the grape, how the wine is made, what kind of things we should be getting when we taste the wine and also what foods work well with each wine variety. The experience was excellent and all the better for having Sam talk us though it all.

We had a very pleasant afternoon at Veeno. I tried some excellent wines and ate some lovely food. I learned a few things about wine and wine making and we managed to have a gossip and a catch up whilst watching the world go by. We liked it so much that we’ve booked to go again next month!

For more information about Veeno and their wine tasting experiences, visit their website.

 We were invited guests of Veeno Manchester and we were not asked to pay for our experience. Nevertheless, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

I visited a friend over the weekend to share a few glasses of prosecco and put the world to rights. When she told me that when she usually drinks prosecco, she pops a pastry brush in the top of bottle I was fairly horrified. It is apparently just the right size to keep the bubbles in. However, we are not barbarians, so I told her about my new Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper and which I’d picked up at the UK Wine Hour Live event I went to recently, thankfully I’d brought my new stopper with me to try out.

If you’re anything like me, I often hesitate to open a second bottle of fizz knowing I will only drink one glass and the rest will go flat before I get the chance to finish it off another day. The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper keeps the bubbles in the bottle and ensures that your fizz stays fresher for longer.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

It has an easy clip and lock mechanism which was a little stiff the first couple of times I locked and unlocked the stopper. Once I’d got the knack it was very easy to use. The stopper has a sleek black and silver matt finish, and once it is locked in place it is completely spill-proof, so you can lie your open bottles down in the fridge if you need to. It also means they are really great for picnics or whatever when your bottle might not always stay upright.

We used it throughout the night, keeping the bottle in the fridge and opening the stopper to pour fresh glasses of prosecco. We were impressed. Our prosecco retained all of its fizz and we tested the stopper was leak proof by turning the bottle upside down. There was a satisfying hissy fizz whenever we opened the bottle and I am incredibly impressed with the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stoppers ability to keep my fizz fresh.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper costs around £12.99 but I’ve spotted it on Amazon for a few pounds less. If you drink prosecco as much as I do, this is a great investment. It would also make an excellent gift for any wine loving friends you may have.

To find out more about the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper, visit their website http://avinawinetools.com

Note: I was given an Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper as a gift, all images and opinions are my own.

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.

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks

Aloe Vera drinks are one of my favourite things, but they can be fairly hard to come by and I’m yet to see them readily available in my local shop. Whenever I see them I like to stock up my fridge and I’ve been known to buy up all the shop has in stock when I see them. I’m pleased to see that Poundland have started stocking TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks, which taste just as good as any other Aloe Vera drink I’ve had, but are available at a fraction of the price. 

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera Drink - new to Poundland

There are three flavours of TropicAloe available at Poundland; original, strawberry and orange.  I’m a bit of a sucker for the original flavour, which is delicately flavoured with grape juice. It’s really refreshing and light, especially if served ice cold on a hot day.

TropicAloe does contain pulp, so first time drinkers should not be alarmed. The pulp is quite chunky but the benefit of that is you feel quite full when you’ve finished drinking, which is great for filling those hungry gaps between meals.

These new TropicAloe drinks contain no artificial preservatives, no artificial colours and are made from fresh Aloe Vera, not the powdered stuff. Each 500ml bottle contains two servings (250ml each). They contain 32 calories per 100mls (or 160 calories per bottle) and are Vegetarian Society approved.

Review: TropicAloe Aloe Vera Drink - new to Poundland

Aloe Vera drinks are known to contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid and it’s great for your skin, hair and for maintaining regular bowel movements. Aloe vera is one of the only plant based sources of vitamin B12, making it excellent for vegetarians and vegans.

These TropicAloe drinks are really hydrating and refreshing. I think they’d be great frozen into ice lollies for really hot days. They are currently available from Poundland stores for 2 for £1 which is an absolute bargain. 

We were sent these TropicAloe Aloe Vera drinks for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

In recent years gin drinking has enjoyed something of a renaissance. Although gin has been drunk for centuries, gin distillers have been tapping into the growing trend for small batch, artisan and craft gins for a little while now.

In 2012, in celebration of all things gin, the Gin Festival was born. Since then the Gin Festival has been popping up in fabulous locations up and down the UK. The Gin Festival is a fantastic travelling festival; full of vintage flair and with all the gin you could possibly want. It’s a great place to go and try new gins, meet the makers, sample some new things and pick up a new favourite. 

Last year I went to the Gin Festival Manchester and absolutely loved every second. This year I went a little further afield and spent an afternoon at the first ever Gin Festival Blackpool. 

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Photo Credit: Bob Bardsley

Set in the stunning Ballroom at the iconic Blackpool Tower, it was the perfect venue for the inaugural Gin Festival Blackpool. The festival took place on Friday 10th March and Saturday 11th March, I went along to the Saturday afternoon session and had a ball!

The Gin Festival Blackpool served up over 100 gins to the eager Blackpool crowd, including many new and exclusive gins. There were masterclasses with distillers, cocktails, hot mulled gin and toe tapping live music. 

With so many gins on offer, my companion Bob and I tried our best to sample as many of them as we could. After consulting “The Gin Book” we were given on arrival, we variously tried Daffy’s, Poetic Licence – Old Tom, Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin, Wight Mermaid Gin, Inverroche Amber Gin, Isfjord Gin, Masons Tea Gin, Whitley Neill Quince, we also tried some hot mulled gin and a brand new gin from Yorkshire, Tinker.

Each gin was served with plenty of ice, a perfectly matched garnish and you could top it us with one of the six premium Fever-Tree tonics and mixers which were freely available.

Review: The Gin Festival Blackpool 2017, Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Photo Credit: Bob Bardsley

Our stand out favourite was a British made, Spanish style gin called Tinker. Tinker is a move away from traditional, juniper gins and is a fresh and innovative gin. Light on the palate and bursting with juicy berries. It is made by distilling juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, cassia, cinnamon, orris, angelica, liquorice, nutmeg and elderberries to create a contemporary classic. It’s one to watch out for in the future, that’s for sure!

If you couldn’t make it to Blackpool, why not book tickets for the Gin Festival in Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Swansea, Torquay, Bournemouth, Bristol, Ipswich, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Gloucester, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds or Oxford.

For more information visit the Gin Festival website.

You can read my guest post on the Gin Festival website here.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

Basil Seed drinks have always been popular across Southeast Asia and India. Many people will have encountered the drink on their travels to Thailand or Vietnam. Basil seeds are similar to chia seeds in that they are packed with nutrients and have a number of health benefits. I’ve been sampling the new Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks and finding out more about the health benefits of this unusual drink.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

Basil seeds are low in calories and are cholesterol free. They contain high levels of beta carotene and Vitamins A, C and K; as well as minerals including potassium, manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium. Basil seeds are also an excellent source of iron and have a number of antioxidant benefits.

Basil seeds apparently have a cooling effect on your body, so they’re great in the summer mixed into cold drinks. They are also good for maintaining healthy skin, for digestion and bowel regulation, sore throats, colds and respiratory disorders and they are known for being a good mood food.

Basil seeds, especially in drinks like the Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks, are also said to be good for weight loss. I have to say, I feel very full after I’ve had a glass of the basil seed drink, and the full feeling lasts for a while. I think that’s a big selling point for me, they make me feel full and as a result I’m less prone to snacking.

What are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like?

The Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks are available in three different flavours, strawberry, peach and pineapple. The drinks come in 350ml bottles and there’s probably enough for two or three glasses in the bottle. I wouldn’t suggest drinking it all in one go as you will feel very full and you might need a nap.

I’m no stranger to unusually textured drinks and these basil seed drinks are no exception. Aloe Vera drinks have clear, fleshy pieces of Aloe Vera in them, and these are in a way similar. The drink is a normal fruit juice based drink and the basil seeds are suspended in a sphere of something like jelly, a bit like bubble tea. 

You can swallow the seeds whole, but if you bite into them the jelly yields easily and you can crunch on the seed if you want. I feel very full when I’ve had a glass of one of the basil seed drinks, and they are quite sweet, but I find them very refreshing especially when they’re nicely chilled.

I would say, if you spot this in your local shop or supermarket it’s worth buying and trying. It is unusual, there’s no getting away from that, but I have enjoyed trying the drink and I like that when I have some I don’t feel the need to snack. I also think (and I’m just free-styling here) it might be nice in prosecco or cava, I think the bubbles with the seeds in will bob up and down in the glass and be a bit of a talking point.

So what are Just Drink Basil Seed Drinks like? Well they’re fruity, filling and a little bit weird, but weird in a good way. Give them a try!

Read my review of Just Drink Aloe here.

Note: I was sent the Just Drink Basil Seed drinks to try for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own. I genuinely think they are weirdly good.

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).