One Man’s Meat (or Wine) is Another Man’s Poison.

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The 12 Wines of Christmas

I am sure you all know the tune so have a little sing-a-long.

On the first day of Christmas

I drank a little Fizz

a spumante from the Marche.

On the second day of Christmas

I fancied something light

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the third day of Christmas

I mulled a cheap red wine

a crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the fourth day of Christmas

I had a little red

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the fifth day of Christmas

I received a little gift

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the sixth day of Christmas

I had a glass of Sherry

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the seventh day of Christmas

I had a little tipple

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the eighth day of Christmas

I got the urge to drink

a Malibu and Cola

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the Ninth day of Christmas

I fancied just a drop

a juicy Tempranillo

a Malibu and Cola

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the Tenth day of Christmas

I wanted something chic

a Grand Cru Champagne

a juicy Tempranillo

a Malibu and Cola

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the eleventh day of Christmas

I had a little treat a

Barolo I’d been saving

a Grand Cru Champagne

a juicy Tempranillo

a Malibu and Cola

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

On the twelfth day of Christmas

I had to have a rest

a glass of Alka Seltzer

a Barolo I’d been saving

a Grand Cru Champagne

a juicy Tempranillo

a Malibu and Cola

a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic

a good little Fino

a Vintage Port

a Montepulciano

a  crappy gift from Aunt Maud

a nice glass of white

and a spumante from the Marche.

Have a great Christmas and a Merry New Year and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Alex the Wine Lady.x

You can follow me on Facebook, twitter @alexoharared or talk to me at Bat and Bottle or Ben’s Wine Shop.

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Ciu Ciu (choo choo) arrive in Oakham

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be the UK representative of an Italian Trade Mission to Vin Italy. (Which basically means I went to Verona and tasted hundreds of wines in a short space of time.) There were some good and bad points to this visit.

Pro’s

  1. I got to visit Verona. (A glorious city with a balcony that some fictional characters once snogged on.)
  2. I got to taste hundreds of wines.
  3. I met some wonderful people from all over the world with a common interest – Good Italian Wines.
  4. I got to taste hundreds of wines. (That one is worth repeating.)
Con’s
  1. Not all the wines I tasted were good. (Generally about 1 in 20 were good and about 1 in 100 were great.)
  2. My teeth, tongue and lips were black from tasting so many red wines.
  3. I was filmed spitting into a spittoon. (I would have swallowed the wine but it did not fall into the category of good or great… so I spat it out on camera!)
  4. I had to sit face to face with producers who totally believed in their product and tell them it was nice or interesting, but not quite what I am looking for… (all the time trying not to hurt their feelings or insult their wine even though it was only good enough for Tesco.)
However on this particular trip (which was so much fun) I did meet ‘Ciu Ciu’. They are organic wine producers from the Marche region of Italy and it was a breath of fresh air tasting their wines. I asked Ben to taste the wine and he loved it too. The whites stood out as being vibrant, fresh and invigorating and the reds as warm, seductive and inviting.
Ciu CiuFinally they have arrived in Oakham. The Bacchus was opened in Ben’s Wine Shop on Friday and Saturday and went down very well. It was full of forest fruit and has a rich and vibrant finish. 
You can be among the first to try these wines, just give me a call I will get a case out to you….
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Alex the Wine Lady
Facebook Page    Telephone 07544 750273
E-mail – alexthewinelady@gmail.com

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Warning – This Blog Contains Sulfites

They may only be two little words, ‘contains sulfites’ but they do cause a lot of consternation. They are blamed for headaches, allergic reactions and are sometimes thought to be added to only mass-produced wines. Since November 2005 all wine bottles produced in the EU have to state that they contain sulfites if they have more than 10 parts of sulfite to every million parts of wine! Nearly all wines contain sulfites because it acts as a preservative and the amount of sulfite is also limited to a maximum of 160 parts per million (ppm) or if you prefer 0.016% – for red wines, 210 ppm for white and 400 ppm for sweet wines.  Without sulfites the wine would turn to vinegar very quickly (and we have all tasted wine like that!)

Here are some common misconceptions:-

Headaches – there is, as of yet, no direct proof of a link between sulfites in wine and headaches. (Just a thought  – It could actually be the alcohol that caused the headache.)

Allergies – some asthmatics will have allergic reactions to sulfites and some people will come out in red blotches or hives or even sneeze if they imbibe too many sulfites . However there are other constituents in wine that can cause reactions. (Large quantities of sulfites are added to dried fruits so if you have no reaction to dried fruit then it may not be the sulfites in the wine that you are allergic to.)

Cheap wines use more sulfites – possibly, but expensive wines use sulfites too (if the wine maker wants his wine to reach the customer in a fit state.) Red wines have less sulfites as the tannins in the red wine act as a preservative too.

Personally I feel that if a wine contains anything other than grapes it should have a disclaimer. EU law permits a wine maker to add up to 50 ingredients to wine and not put them on the label.

Some of the things that can be added to wine:-

Sugar, gelatin, eggs, charcoal, artificial yeast, clay, acid, enzymes, nutrients and flavourings , American (or French) oak flavouring,  milk protein (casein) and even fish bladder extract! Personally I believe the sulfites are the least of our worries…. What do you think?

Talk to me.

You can follow me on Face Book or visit Bat and Bottle web site to find some lovely wines (all of which contain sulfites).

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Old Vines, Old Wines and Old Men!

My husband has just reached the glorious age of 49 and instead of wishing him “Happy Birthday” with a cheery smile, his friends said… ‘Last year before the Big Five O, and we all know the O stands for “OLD”.

This got me thinking ‘What is OLD?’

The dictionary states that it is having lived a relatively long time. So surely it is only a comparison i.e. next to my daughter, my mother is old (although I wouldn’t dare say it to her face.)

In a wine, OLD can mean anything too. I did find a bottle of Lafite Rothschild 1789 for sale for a mere £130,000 PER BOTTLE! Now that is old. (I may ask Uncle Henry for a dozen or two when he asks me what I would like for my birthday). Some wines would be considered old after only a few years if they were not made to age, others will still taste wonderful after many years. This said, I would not expect to get much money for any old bottles found in Aunt Maud’s Attic, as wines without a providence will certainly not be welcome in an auction house and without proper storage facilities will not taste very good either.

An OLD Vine could be only 20 years old as there is no legal or even agreed upon definition of OLD. In the Barossa Valley in Australia, Langmeil Winery still produce a Shiraz from a vine planted in 1843 and the oldest grape producing vine is in Slovenia and dates back over 400 years.  Sadly the older a vine gets the less grapes it produces, however the grapes are usually far better than the grapes produced by a young and immature vine. A wine maker will have to decide between quality and quantity and often it is the old vine that is ripped out in favour of younger, more productive vines.

So as my old man has been stored fairly well, is still quite productive and relatively speaking is only a little older than me, I have decided not to trade him in for a younger one just yet.

If you would like to chat with a (still quite young) merchant some time about wines old or young – give me a call or visit the web site of Bat and Bottle, or even drop me an e-mail. You can also follow me on Facebook if you so desire.

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Tasting the Wine, Close to the Vine!

A room with a view... Tuscany

I realise that not all of us are lucky enough to visit a vineyard or wander around a winery however if you do ever get the chance to taste wine close to the vine say “YES PLEASE!”

I have just returned from Tuscany where my family and I had a wonderful 10 day holiday. (Apart from a couple of near death experiences on some hair-pin bends climbing into or descending from some hilltop village.) We visited Firenze, Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Pisa and many other wonderful little villages whose names I can neither pronounce nor spell!

We stayed in an agriturismo which was also a Vineyard (A bit of a busman’s holiday for me!) as well as visiting a Vineyard that we are hoping to buy from before Christmas, Castello Sonnino, which is in Montespertoli a sub region of Chianti. Alessandro and I had met before in Venice (Did I mention that being a wine merchant is quite fun?) and so we chatted for a while and then went straight into the wine tasting. We tasted the full range of his wines (sadly that day I was driving so I had to use the spittoon) and then had a guided tour of the Winery. Bottling was taking place and any bit of machinery fascinates my son so he was thrilled to watch the process.

We went deep into the cellars where we saw small concrete vats, barrels laid in long lines, stainless steel vats (for the house wines only!) and scores of bottles waiting to be shipped. We then got to taste straight from the barrel which is quite an experience. (Wine still in the barrel will often not have the finesse or elegance of the final wine and can be quite harsh and raw.) Then we went high into the tower where the Vin Santo grapes are dried on straw mats. The barrels for the Vin Santo are kept here too. (If you want to find out more about Vin Santo press the link to Wiki my favourite source of information.)

We were then shown to a private room where a gorgeous, traditional Tuscan lunch had been prepared for us by Federica. All the half full bottles (Yes I am a half full not half empty girl) from our earlier tasting were set out on the table for us to drink with lunch, which my husband and daughter proceeded to do! I sipped the lovely cool water. (Driving round nightmarish bends and steep dirt tracks when sober is hard enough, but after tasting 7 wines – impossible)

For dessert we had cantuccini biscuits with the glorious golden Vin Santo, which was the perfect end to a wonderful day. The only thing missing was a little couch for me to have a siesta before driving back to the agriturismo for a swim.

If you have ever been lucky enough to visit a Vineyard and taste wine close to the vine – let me know – or if you want to visit some of our producers when you are away in Italy or Portugal then let me know and we will see what can be done.

Talking about wine is almost as lovely as drinking it!

So Talk to me!

You can follow me on Facebook or pop and see me at Ben’s Wine Shop or at Bat and Bottle in Oakham. You can even email me alexthewinelady@gmail.com

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Need,Want,Desire?

To Need, To Want, or To Desire???? That is the question.

When I call someone up for an order I often say,”Is there anything you need?” maybe I should ask, “Is there anything you need? want? desire?” as the definitions of the three are quite similar yet incredibly different.

I turned to the internet for my definitions. (of course)

Need:

  1. A condition or situation in which something is required or wanted. (Uncle Henry’s Millions)
  2. Something required or wanted a requisite. (A great bottle of wine.)
  3. Necessity; obligation. (You are always my favourite wine merchant.)
  4. A condition of poverty or misfortune. (Sorry not this month)
Want;
  1. To feel a need or longing for. (My Mother has moved in, what have you got with HIGH alcohol… any Grappa??)
  2. To wish, need, or desire something or to do something. (Having a party – got anything cheap?)
  3. To be lacking or deficient in something necessary or desirable. (Thank god you called my wine rack is nearly empty!)
  4. To feel the absence of. (We have not got a single bottle of Rose in the house!)
  5. To fall short by. (Aunt Maud came by and I had to mix one of your good wines with lemonade!)
  6. To have need or require, of something or to do something. (My wife’s 50th Birthday. I Need something special for her.)
  7. To be destitute. (Sorry not a space for a bottle of wine.)
  8. To seek or request the presence of. (Yes! would like some of your lovely wine in my wine rack!)
  9. To be absent. (Off to the house in France/Spain/Portugal for the next two months… call me in September!!!!!!!!)
  10. Should or ought to do something. (Have you got anything I would like?)
  11. Wish to be included in a venture. (Do you have any of the ‘Tuscan Case’ Left?)
Desire:
  1. To wish or long for; want. (Do you have any of that lovely fizz from last time… it was soooo nice)
  2. To express a wish for; request. (I want some red and some white and some rose and some fizz can you help?)
  3. A wish or longing. (Can you make me feel like I am seventeen again???)
  4. A request or petition. (Makes sure it is here by Monday)
  5. The object of longing. (Does Johnny Depp come in a bottle?)
  6. Sexual appetite, passion. (Does Johnny Depp come in a bottle?)
So what should I ask.. do you Want wine, do you  Need wine or do you Desire wine… the choice is yours!!!!
Talk to me…
You can find me on Facebook or at Bat and Bottle and every other Saturday at Ben’s wine Shop in Oakham


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