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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Storing wine

wine rackThe ideal storage conditions for wine are a dark, damp, cool wine cellar. But as few of us have one of these, where’s the best place to store wine?

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Tasting notes made easy

pouring wineIf these weekly columns have inspired you to organise your own wine tasting at home, then you'll need to get some kit together. Buy yourself some large wine glasses (cheap supermarket ones will do) for capturing any wine aromas released when the wine is swirled prior to sniffing and tasting. And to help you keep track of all the wines you taste why not use my free wine tasting sheet available from goddard wine tasting sheet.pdf

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Slight changes to the diet

tape measureInevitably some of us will have put on weight over Christmas and, if like me, you not only cooked the food but ate it too then the waist-band button is probably straining a bit. One way of dealing with this post-Christmas excess is to be sensible and eat slightly less and exercise slightly more.

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Ten wines for Christmas

SantaJust a few days left to go and if you're still unsure what wines to get in then try my list of top ten great tasting wines to match with what ever you'll be eating on the 25th December. There's wines to match the traditional roast, plus wines for later in the day when all you want is a sandwich and possibly a spoonful of trifle. There's also a couple of champagnes for toasting the arrival of your guests or for just drinking with a slice of toast and a red wine that doubles as an alternative to after-dinner port. What ever you want it's here.

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Top Ten Wines Under £6 of 2015

pound coinsTop Ten Wines Under £6 of 2015 this week with recommended wines starting at £3.99 and going up to £6. As you'd expect the discount retailers are in there (both Aldi and Lidl) along with the more cash conscious supermarkets of Tesco, Asda and the Co-op. But Majestic has also found a place with a wine at £5.49 – so no longer is this retailer a destination of just the middle-wine bracket buyers, those in hunt of bargain should give them a try too.

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Nine whiskies for cake soaking

whiskey labelNine whiskies, both Scottish and British, are sampled this week as I get started baking the Christmas fruity puds and cakes. Recipes for booze-soaked Christmas fruit cake always say you should let the cake 'mature' for at least a week before you ice it. But the cake will still taste wonderful if you start munching when it’s only been out of the oven for an hour and just (about) cooled down.

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Top Ten Reds of 2015 Over £6

red wine in glassTop Ten Red Wines of 2015 priced over £6 this week with recommended wines starting at £5.99   (yes I know, I know but can we forgive them a penny and let them in?) and going up to £20. The Co-op and Majestic are putting up a good show (yet again – as they did in last week's Top Ten Whites of 2015 priced over £6) with other supermarkets and independents making up the rest of the Top Ten.

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