Chutney season

plumsLess wine and more vinegar has been sampled this week as I’ve been sipping samples of hot home-made chutney straight from the boiling pan. After picking several tonnes, (well it seemed like it) of garden damsons, and its near neighbour wild bullace from the Shropshire hedgerows, I needed to find a recipe that would do justice to their flavours.

After perusing many recipe books and websites, while finishing off the dregs of a bottle of Aldi Italian Montepulciano (£3.39) opened the night before, I finally came across just the recipe I was looking for.

A combination of the usual chutney preserving ingredients of vinegar and sugar, along with onions, garlic (lots), raisins and pears (windfalls with the manky bits cut out) and the de-stoned remains of 9lb of bullace results in a fruity but somewhat bland chutney. Add spices to the mix and the chutney reaches a different stratum of flavour.

Ground chilli, ground ginger, black peppercorns, mustard seed and Juniper berry (the recipe called for allspice but the substituted peppery flavoured berry meant I could finally get to justify their purchase) all added to the simmering mass and finally spooned into jars 4 hours later resulted in a dark purple splodge that tasted very similar to HP Brown Sauce.

I know you’re meant to leave chutneys to mature for 6 weeks or so but I couldn’t resist opening a jar and adding a spoonful to the necessary post clear-up bacon sarnie. Delicious. And a couple of glasses of fruity red matched the meals hearty flavours.

PG Wine Tips

£3.99 and under

There are still some good bottles to be found that cost the same as a couple of National Lottery tickets.

Aldi Italian Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, £3.39 Aldi

Bargain of the Week. Flavours of blackcurrant cheesecake with a dollop of cherry, coffee and black pepper. Slurpable stuff.

Caño Spanish Tempranillo Garnacha, £4.00 Tesco (down from £4.79 until October 5th)

Fruity blackcurrant and damson with a dark chocolate edge. Good with food.

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Ogio Italian Primitivo, £4.49 Tesco (down from £8.98 until October 5th)

More dark chocolate flavours but with cherry and clove this time. Match to grilled chop.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Spar Castelliani Chianti Riserva 2004, £7.29 Spar

Rich and fruity red with creamy blackberry and plum flavours.

De Grendel South African Merlot 2007, £10.99 Oddbins (buy 12+ bottles at £8.79 each)

More plum and blackberry flavours but slightly more refined than the Spar Chianti.

This article has appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on Mature Times