Wine

How about making a cup of tea?

Bramah teapotGrowing a grapevine on the allotment or in a conservatory is not that unusual. I even know of a fully functioning coffee tree growing inside a house (each year the kitchen-bound tree produces about half a pound of coffee beans), but I know of no-one else with tea bushes growing in pots on their bathroom windowsill. They're still rather small but when they're fully grown (reaching about three feet high in larger pots) the Camellia sinensis plants should provide me with enough tea leaves to make about 250 cups of tea.

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What to do at a wine tasting

tongueAt a wine tasting event expect to sniff and taste up to six wines. Your host will encourage everyone to describe the wines for themselves, with perhaps a little prompting. So when the inevitable “so what do think this wine smells of?”, what’s the ‘correct’ thing to say? Expressing your thoughts to a group of strangers is nerve wracking, but you’ve got to say something it’s expected. Just say what the wine aromas smell like, you won’t be wrong.

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Spring forward with lighter wines

clockThe move into British Summer Time always leaves me time disorientated but by 7pm this Sunday I know my system will have accepted the change – I can now listen to The Archers and admire the colour of a glass of lightly chilled white wine without needing to put the light on.

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Half bottles of wine

half bottles of champagneHalf bottles of wine at half the cost? Not necessarily so, unfortunately. Because so few vineyards put their wines in 375ml bottles the price of this handy single-sized portion never gets lowered by mass production and so remains at about two-thirds the price of its 750ml equivalent. But half bottles aren’t all bad – they do allow you to assess the maturing potential of many wines without the risk and all the cost.

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£6 and under wines are getting better

coinsYou may think paying around six quid for a bottle of wine is expensive but to the wine trade this is the cheaper end of the market. Because of both inflation and consumer spending habits the wine producers have found that the under-a-fiver category is no longer worth the time and expense and so if you can remember the time when you could get a decent bottle for under £3.99 then hang on to the memory because there won't be any more. Instead we must look to the £5.99 and under category to find the everyday bottles.

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Saint David's Day meal and wine match

wine groupIt'll be easy celebrating Saint David’s Day tomorrow. Dish out some lamb cutlets and you’re well on your way to a delicious meal and an excuse to open several bottles in hope of finding a wine to match. Because as a young cut of Welsh lamb is neither quite red meat or white it matches both red and white wine equally well, so pacifying the food-wine matching theorists who insist on matching red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat and fish.

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How to become a wine writer

fountain penIf being a wine writer is all about ‘tasting vast quantities of wine’, why isn’t everyone doing it? Because as wine writer Geoff Adams explains in his chapter on Wine Journalism (Specialist Journalism, Routledge, £23.49): ‘it can be difficult to commission a sufficient amount of work within this speciality alone to make a good living’. But if that hasn’t put you off, then how do you go about becoming a wine writer?

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Beware what you read on Trip Advisor

wine labelsChanging 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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Fizzy wine called champagne

bread slicesChampagne is often described as smelling and tasting like a freshly risen loaf. That's because a double dose of yeast is added to give this famous wine its fizz and in doing so leaves a trace of its creamy flavours behind: méthode champenoise turns a very dry French white wine into a sweeter and more expensive sparkling version.

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Online wine tasting

wine glass plus Twitter logo‘So what do you think the wine tastes of?’ is one of the one of the most frightening questions to be asked during an evening class in wine appreciation. Because not only is your ability to pronounce waffle being judged but also how well you’ve got the whole body language thing under control. Because bum shuffling and mumbling gets ‘nul points’ when you’re face-to-face with teacher. But what if all that could be avoided? It can if your wine class meets online through Twitter.

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