Wine

Rum deal

rumMix yourself a Rum and Coke cocktail using a dash of dark rum and a classic cola then watch a harmless frothy scum form around the added ice cubes. Then mix another Rum and Coke but using pale rum (Barcardi is suitable but a supermarket own-label will be just as good at two-thirds the price). No dirty looking froth forms this time, but why is that?

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Spanish sparkling

cava labelCava - why wouldn't you want to drink lots of this Spanish sparkling wine that tastes better than many champagnes? It costs a lot less (supermarket own-label cavas can be got for as little as £5) and the enjoyable flavours can be relied upon year after year.

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Save us Saint George!

Harlequin ladybirdIt would be really handy if not just celebrating the life, and death, of Saint George this week, we could actually still have him and his sword in full working order. He defeated one piece of unwelcome wildlife for us 1800 years ago and now Britain's wine and gardening enthusiasts need his help again to defeat a nasty Asian invader - harlequin ladybirds are spreading across England.

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Slurp for chocolate

Easter eggEaster 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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Screwcaps versus corks

screwcapScrewcaps make getting into a bottle of wine so easy that you wonder why some producers still stopper their products with small pieces of oak tree bark whose primary goal seems to be getting in the way of enjoying wine.

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Horses for courses

race horseBy 5pm this Saturday we'll know which of the entered one hundred and fifteen racehorses has won their owner just over half a million pound prize money of the Aintree Grand National. If you're looking to place a last minute bet don't look to me for any racing certainties. My first and only loose-change bet on horses net me the princely sum of minus two pounds. But should your stake prove to be a winner, how do you celebrate? Well it's got to start with the opening of a bottle of bubbly.

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Little red dress

red wine dressIf you find you don't always drink the last drop out of each bottle and you're pretty nimble with a needle and thread then you might fancy having a go at making a dress out of wine. What you’ll need is the equivalent of twelve full bottles of cheap Australian red wine and patience. Two weeks and a vat of red wine vinegar later, you’ll have enough Mother of Vinegar ‘material’ to make a mini-dress.

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Share your bath with your grapevine

watering cansIf the continuing sunshine 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 summer's inevitable hosepipe ban (it’s bound to happen despite all those winter floods) and 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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Wine or a nice cup of tea?

pancakesAs you squeeze the lemon juice over your pancakes tomorrow will you be contemplating an accompanying glass of wine or a nice cup of tea? Wine isn’t the natural partner of choice for the traditional Shrove Tuesday meal because lemon and the necessary lashings of sugar will almost stop the taste buds registering anything – unless the wine is even sweeter or more acidic than each of the pancake toppings. So what wine, if any, matches these criteria?

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Not water but wine

Welsh dragonHaving the nickname 'David The Water Drinker' tells you all you need to know about the Welsh patron's saint view on alcohol. But that hasn't stopped Wales' twenty-two vineyards getting on rather nicely without his blessing. From the far south in The Vale of Glamorgan right up to Anglesey, vineyard sales are flourishing. So why not join in the celebrations this Saint David's Day on Saturday and open a bottle of Welsh wine.

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