Category Archives: Drink

9 ideas for Christmas drinks for the whole family

If there’s one time of the year we all enjoy drinking something a little special, it’s Christmas. Whether you like a boozy tipple, or you’re after something non-alcoholic but still festive; I’ve pulled together a list of seasonal suggestions for Christmas drinks and there really is something for all the family to enjoy.

Alcoholic Christmas Drinks

From Snowballs with Grandma, fizz with friends and mulled wine round the fire; bring some Christmas cheer with this selection of boozy favourites.

Mix things up with some deliciously warming Mulled Apple Cider from Daisies and Pie. Mulled cider makes a real change from mulled wine; lighter, sweeter and you can swap the cider for apple juice if you’re mulling for the whole family.

9 ideas for Christmas drinks for the whole family

This Christmas Hot Punch from Susan Earlam is full of festive flavours, including cranberry, amaretto and spices. It’s a delicious sounding drink, perfect to drink in front of the fire.

Devotees of G&T might like to customise their gins by steeping their own, I’ve got recipes for Quince Gin and Parma Violet Gin on my blog, and very nice they are too.

If you want to jazz up a simple glass of festive fizz, we’ve been trying Pop A Ball which are little tubs of bursting bubbles and drink shimmers which you spoon into your fizz. Pop A Ball products are suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs. They are also are also free from dairy, nuts, eggs and soya.

Non-Alcoholic Christmas Drinks

I’ve got lots of friends who don’t drink alcohol, but why should they miss out on Christmas drinks? I always think it’s nice to make something the whole family can enjoy too. Here are some suggestions for non-alcoholic Christmas drinks for all the family.

After a chilly day riding a sledge, or taking the dog on a winter walk, nothing warms you up like a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate, Daisies and Pie has created this delicious sounding recipe for Peanut butter hot chocolate, just the thing for peanut butter nuts like me!

9 ideas for Christmas drinks for the whole family

For mulled wine fans who are cutting down on their intake, this Vimto Mulled Wine recipe is a great way to still enjoy all the seasonal spices of mulled wine, but swerving the alcohol content. It’s also delicious because it’s based on Vimto.

Claire over at She-Eats is entirely alcohol-free these days and she’s got some great suggestions for booze free Christmas drinks over on her blog, as well as this delicious sounding Cranberry and Pomegranate Christmas Cocktail.

Fruity drinks, juices and cocktails are a great way to grab a winter vitamin boost, Jenny from The Brick Castle has got a selection of healthy juice recipes on her blog which would be a delicious and healthy way to start off your Christmas morning

Whatever you and your family like to drink over Christmas, there are lots of new and interesting ideas to try.

What’s your favourite festive tipple?

9 ideas for Christmas drinks for the whole family

How to make your own Quince Gin

A few weeks ago I knocked up a batch of Parma Violet Gin, and very acceptable it was too. Buoyed on by my gin making triumph, and somewhat overwhelmed by a glut of quinces, I decided to try my hand at making some Quince Gin.

Quince Gin, or any fruit flavoured gin is really easy to do, you just need a big jar, some fruit, a bit of sugar, gin and some time.

I’ve never really drunk much quince gin before and now that I have, I find it hard to understand why it’s not more of a thing. It’s not sweet and sickly, but it’s delicately perfumed, just like the fruit and it’s really very special.

How to make your own Quince Gin

We have a quince tree in our garden, so most autumns we are blessed with a fairly decent crop of fruit. Most of this goes towards making quince jelly, which is excellent with cheese, but this year I put aside two nice big quinces for ginning with. It’s simple to do, you just need patience.

How to make your own Quince Gin

You will need:

380mls Gin, I used the cheap stuff from Aldi
2 large quinces
30g sugar
A large jar
Coffee filters or muslin
A funnel
A nice bottle

How to make Quince Gin:

The first thing I did was measure how much gin my decorative bottle would take. My bottle would hold 350mls of gin, so allowing for a little bit of wastage during the straining process, and me having a little taste, I measured out 380mls of gin and poured it into a large sterilised jar.

To sterilise your jars and bottles, put your clean jars in a low oven for at least half an hour. Carefully remove your jars from the oven (they will be incredibly hot) and allow them to cool down a little.

Chop up your two clean quinces as small as you can be bothered to do. I removed the small core and the pips. Once they’re all chopped up, add them to your large jar and top up with 30g of sugar. Put the lid on your jar and give it a good shake.

How to make your own Quince Gin

Now, the fruit at the top of the jar might be a bit exposed to the air; this bothered me, so I took a piece of baking paper and made a cartouche of sorts. A cartouche is just a bit of paper which you cover the top of food with when you’re cooking to make sure the contents are submerged. This stops the quince at the top of the jar from going brown.

Put the jar to one side, making sure you shake the jar every few days. Leave the quince to sit in the gin for 3-6 weeks.

When the time is up, take your sterilised bottle and using a funnel with some muslin or a coffee filter in it; strain the gin into the bottle. I found that it was best if I strained it twice. Just make sure you replacing the muslin with a new piece after the first straining.

How to make your own Quince Gin

Seal your bottle and decorate it with a nice label if you’re giving it as a gift. I’ve called this gin “Two Quinces” after the 1992 Spin Doctors song, you’re welcome.

If you’ve got some quince to spare, you might also like to try this recipe for Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Galette with quince.

How to make your own Quince Gin

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

I don’t do much drinking at home, I like to save myself for a (now rare) night out or trip to a festival. Back in the spring I went to a Gin Festival with some good friends, my first tipple of the day was some quite expensive Parma Violet Gin and it’s been on my mind ever since. Sure, I could buy a bottle, but the Willy Wonka in me fancied making some. It’s so easy, and it’s the perfect homemade gift for a Parma Violet loving gin fan this Christmas!

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

How to make Parma Violet Gin

You will need:

350mls Gin, I used the cheap stuff from Aldi
6 7g packets of Parma Violets
A large jar
Coffee filters or muslin
A funnel
A nice bottle

How to make Parma Violet Gin:

The first thing I did was measure how much gin my decorative bottle would take. My bottle would hold 350mls of gin, so allowing for a little bit of wastage during the straining process, and me having a little taste, I measured out 380mls of gin and poured it into a large sterilised jar.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

To sterilise your jars and bottles, put your clean jars in a low oven for at least half an hour. Carefully remove your jars from the oven (they will be incredibly hot) and allow them to cool down. Pour in your gin, I suggest you use a jug and a funnel for this.

Using whatever method you think best, grind up 6 packets of Parma Violets. I did this using a pestle and mortar, but a food processor or a bag and a rolling pin would work just as well. They don’t have to be super fine, but the more they’re broken up, the quicker they will dissolve.

Tip your crushed Parma Violets into the jar with the gin. Screw the lid on as tight as you can and give it a really good shake. Put it to one side, shaking the jar daily for about two weeks. A little more or a little less time in the jar won’t hurt.

In terms of measurements, if you want to make more or less of the Parma Violet Gin then you should go for a ratio of about 2 of the 7g packets of Parma Violets per 100mls.

When the time is up, take your sterilised bottle and using a funnel with some muslin or a coffee filter in it; strain the gin into the bottle. I found that it was best if I strained it twice, replacing the muslin with a new piece after the first straining. Doing this resulted in a clearer gin but didn’t seem to change the flavour much.

Once the bottle is filled, put the lid on, label it if you want and give it to your favourite gin lover.

Try my recipe for Quince Gin here!

If you liked the look of this recipe, you might also like to try baking these Parma Violet Shortbread Biscuits.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

Win two bottles of Botonique non-alcoholic fizz

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of alcohol you’re drinking, or if you’ve got a big night coming up and you want to pace yourself, drinking something like Botonique might be the answer.

Botonique non-alcoholic fizz

Botonique make dry and complex sparkling drinks to sip and savour. The drink is chock full of de-alcoholised botanical extracts plus Prelixir nutrients which alcohol depletes, to help you pace your drinking and replace nutrients.

The Botonique drinks are just 17 calories a glass. Flavour wise they’re really interesting. The dry white in the green bottle has herbs, spices, citrus, milk thistle seed and ginseng, with added vitamins, minerals and amino acids, with a touch of pear juice, and really fizzy. If you like really herbal drinks, then you will like this.

Botonique Blush is a de-alcoholised, dry, sparkling rose drink made of botanical extracts, vitamins, minerals and pear, bramble and strawberry juices. It has no added sugar, sulphites or anything artificial and is suitable for vegans. It’s a lovely light summery drink.

Botonique non-alcoholic fizz

The Botonique drinks are low calorie, with no added sugar and make an interesting alternative to alcohol. If you’re cutting back, pacing yourself, or swapping to a low calorie alternative for health reasons, then Botonique is a good option, especially if you enjoy herbal, botanical drinks.

Botonique is available in supermarkets and online from the Botonique online shop. For more information about Botonique, visit their website.

WIN two bottles of Botonique non-alcoholic fizz

To be in with a chance to win two bottles of Botonique non-alcoholic fizz, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent two bottles of Botonique non-alcoholic fizz.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 27th November 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
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12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

We were sent some Botonique for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

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

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

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

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

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

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.