Champagnes of the week

Champagne topBefore you get to Le Mans, put in some practice opening these tasty bottles of champagne - all on special offer.

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Dan Gurney starts to spray

champagne frothFor Dan Gurney fans, and those interested in the Formula One champagne spraying tradition, here's how it all started.

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Raining champagne at Le Mans

Dan Gurney opening champagneIf you’re going to Le Mans to watch the 24-hour motor race this weekend it’ll probably rain, rain champagne that is. Traditionally the winner’s bottle is sprayed into the crowd and we can thank the American racing driver, Dan Gurney, for starting it all in 1967.

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The elder the better

elderflowerShear your sheep, they say in Devon, when the elder blossoms peep. With buds appearing at the end of May, the clotted-cream coloured heads of the elder bush are ready for picking by the first week of June.

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It's raining it's pouring, it's English Wine Week

umbrellaScattered showers are forecast for next weekend’s May Bank Holiday, so of course that’s the start of English Wine Week. That pretty much captures the essence of what it's like to be an English winemaker - great when the sun shines but for the other 300 days of the year it's just plain hard work getting grapes to ripen in less than ideal conditions.

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Frugality from Aldi and the Co-op

coinsLet’s raise a glass to frugality. Because good wine needn't be an expensive business – it is still possible to get yourself something decent to slurp for under a fiver. But there is a slight drawback; you’ll no longer have the run of all the supermarket wine aisles.

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Biodynamics: super-duper organic wines

grapes on vineBiodynamic wine producers across the world - including such well-known names as Milton Vineyards of New Zealand and Romanee Conti of Burgundy - believe they must do more than just grow organically to make wine in a truly sustainable manner. Only by putting back into the soil everything nature produces, and I mean everything, do they believe vines can grow and wine be made in harmony with the earth’s rhythms.

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It's beer, but not as we know it

No alcoholAlcohol-free beers look like beer and smell like beer, but far too often they just don't taste like beer. Which is a shame, because there’s a large and growing market for ales without the alcohol. Motorists and muslims are prime targets, as are people on certain sorts of medication which don’t mix well with alcoholic drinks.

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English wine needs Saint George

Saint GeorgeIt would be really handy if rather than just celebrating the life, and death, of Saint George on April 23rd, we could actually still have him 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 have been spotted in eastern-England.

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Wedding champagnes

champagne topWill and Kate have settled on Pol Roger as the champagne of choice for their wedding. It's a pretty good brand, after all it was Winston Churchill's favourite house fizz, but there are other champagnes around to help celebrate any occasion including nuptials.

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