Wine will taste good if you want it to

wine labelChanging the wine label affects not only the opinion of restaurant wine but also the opinion of the food served with it according to an American study. Customers at a popular student restaurant were given a free glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with their meal. Half of the free wine was poured from bottles showing the name of a prestigious Californian vineyard while the rest showed their origin as North Dakota – a very unfashionable American wine region. Unbeknown to the diners, the wine was the same in both cases - an inexpensive branded wine.

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Review: Majestic Loves range

Majestic logoWhen the empty wine bottle is as enjoyable as the just-drunk content then you know you're on to a good thing – and you need look no further than Majestic's new own-label Majestic Loves range at £5.99 a bottle to please all of the senses. Because it's the cartoon bottle labels, designed by French artist Jean Jullien, that add the pièce de résistance to these really nice and affordable wines.

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Ten minutes to go and no wine

clockThere's no wine in the house and with only ten minutes to go before the food is ready what can you do? Buying the meal-matching wine from the local village shop or corner convenience store is the best strategy when time is limited.

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A tale of two Malbecs

Two MalbecsThis is a tale of two supermarket French Malbecs: one costs £4.49 and is Aldi's Vignobles Roussellet Vin de France, and the other – SPAR's M Malbec Pays D'Oc IGP - costing £6.50. Both taste fruitily of damsons, plums and cherries; both are quaffable, and both are excellent value for money. So why does one just taste a little bit more exciting?

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Give the grape vines a drink

grape bunchIf the continuing great gardening weather has persuaded you to have a go at planting your own grape vine then you'll pleased to hear an Australian study has found a way for you to not only beat this year's lack of rain water and this summer's inevitable hosepipe ban but save money on your water bills too: filtered wastewater saved in a water butt is healthier for vines than mains water straight from the garden tap.

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This is me

PG on the allotmentAs an ex-engineer turned adult education lecturer, I got into the exam marking business after running evening classes on my hobby interest of GCSE psychology. The move to marking several hundred exam papers came quite naturally after marking coursework for my students.

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A nice cup of tea - from scratch

tea leavesI've always wanted my own tea plant. Being a complete teaophile I've tinkered with teabags and then discovered the delights of loose leaf tea, but this has never completely satisfied my urge to make my own cup of tea from scratch.

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What no alcohol!

a cup of teaThe key to choosing a non-alcoholic alternative to wine is to find one that doesn't taste too sweet. Because an overly sweet drink can not only overwhelm the taste buds and hide the taste  of the food you are matching it to, but it's also really filling – it may taste great on its own but the sweetness will fill you up faster than the lovingly prepared plate of food. But there are non-alcoholic choices that taste good, match food as well as wine.

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Dandelions: wine and tyres

dandelionsTraditional picked on St. George's Day, the flower petals of the dandelion can be brewed into a country wine. It turns out that its leaves can also be eaten as a salad leaf and its horrendously long tap roots that seem to grow down as far Australia make a passable coffee substitute: but now the humble dandelion has another use – it can be turned into car tyres.

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Chocolate Easter egg anyone?

eating chocolateEaster means eggs. Chocolate eggs. And there are lots out there in the shops at the moment. Dark chocolate eggs, milk chocolate eggs, eggs filled with Smarties and even chocolate eggs filled with liqueur chocolates. But come the final egg count this Sunday there will be two important questions to answer: “Which one to unwrap first?”, and “What wine will match all that chocolate?”.

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