PG column picBirthdays are funny things. They arrive without you really noticing and suddenly you are six years older. Which is what has just happened to this column – Paula’s Wines of the Week is now six. It was July 21st 2008 when the first bargain wines were recommended and since then I’ve been sorting out the bargains from the you've-got-to-be-kidding bottles for you. So it’s time for birthday cake and plenty of tasty wines to help wash it down.

cake sliceI’m rather fond of cake, particularly sticky ones that require plenty of finger and plate licking to finish them off. And such a cake should have enough substance to hold a birthday candle and still taste nice when matched with wine. What is this cake? Lemon drizzle yoghurt tatlisi – a moist, easy-to-make cake covered in lemon juice and sugar.

Set your oven to 180 degrees C (Gas 4) and find some plain yoghurt (a small tub or so), 3 eggs, 200g sugar, 250g of self-raising flour, melted butter (marg or olive oil spread works just as well) and a couple of lemons.

Grate your lemons into the yoghurt, egg, melted marg and sugar mix and gradually stir in the flour. If you add all the flour in one go there is a danger the cake mix will go lumpy, so a bit at a time is best, but a few lumps won’t hurt. Then pour the mix into a loaf tin and bake for 45mins or until you can stand it no more and you must get a closer sniff at the wonderful aromas coming out of the oven. Then pour on a lemon juice and sugar syrup mix (put 2 tablespoons of sugar and the juice of the 2 lemons in a saucepan and simmer for 10 mins) and leave to cool in the tin.

Finally add a candle, or six, then slice and devour with ice-cream/cream/crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt and of course several glasses of wine.

I’ve recommended a few birthday bottles to get things started.

PG Wine Reviews

Aldi Exquisite Collection Australian Riesling 2013

£6.99 Aldi

High quality wine with a taste of apple and coconut that turns orangey later.

Fetzer Quartz Californian White Blend 2012

£7.99 Tesco

Another wine that turns orangey as it warms up slightly. Honey, apple and lemon flavours initially.

Chateau Le Bernet French White Graves 2013

£9 Sainsbury’s

Floral flavours. Very nice.

MG Reserva Chilean Carignan Syrah 2012

£9.79 Co-op

The cherry, choc, blackcurrant and barley sugar flavours lighten with time after opening.

Vista Alegre Spanish Reserva Rioja 2008

£13.99 Ocado

Cocoa, toffee and blackcurrant.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on

Aldi labelsPerfectly decent everyday wines made from less than everyday grape varieties sums up what Aldi’s new Venturer range of six wines is all about. Priced at either £4.79 or £4.99, the wines designed to take the tastebuds of their wine-buying customers on the ‘ultimate journey’ are also there to help those customers who don’t want to splash out an extra pound on their other new(ish) wine range, the premium Exquisite Collection.

Italian flagItaly is the world's largest producer of wine, producing 60 million bottles of it every year. And as about 4 million of these are exported to the UK then the chances of coming across an Italian wine in a restaurant, supermarket or garage forecourt shop are extremely high. So it makes sense to understand what you’re getting before deciding to buy one of the multi-million number of bottles available. And the easiest way to do that is to read the wine label.

cup of teaWine, dark chocolate and tea improve thinking and memory skills in men and women aged over 70. A study conducted by researchers from the universities of Oxford and Oslo found that a combination of wine, dark chocolate, and tea, consumed in moderate amounts, enhanced cognitive performance in the elderly. All three food stuffs contain relatively high levels of flavonoids.