All best wishes for a
Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2023
After a challenging year in 2022 on many fronts let’s look forward
with enthusiasm to a new and brighter year!
Thanks for reading elizabethsvines xx
I started giving wine as a gift at Christmas a few years ago.
It seems in many ways the ideal gift for wine drinkers: a consumable that doesn’t need to be found a permanent home, recyclable from the packaging to the glass bottle, and enjoyable! It ticks a lot of boxes as gifts go and it still does in my experience.
Also, it’s a gift that’s easy to give: phone the wine merchant, order and pay for the wine, arrange delivery and it’s done!
When considering wine as a gift, the range of wines and their characteristics available is truly astounding! I’m grateful to Mother Nature for providing this bounty of grape varieties to satisfy many different consumer interests.
My first instinct in gifting wine had been to give wines that I would lIke to receive! Although this worked some of the time, I quickly learned the best approach is to ask the happy recipients what they would like to receive! A novel concept!
An important aspect of asking first, is that important medical considerations come to light, which I wouldn’t have thought about! For example, some people who have had chemotherapy can’t drink acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc, so important to send a softer wine like an un-oaked Chardonnay and to generally stay away from red wines. Or if people have throat or asthmatic issues, be careful to avoid overly tannic wines, which can feel scratchy on the throat in some cases.
In situations where it’s not possible to ask for wine preferences or it’s a surprise, then I would aim for a mixed case of wine, which most wine merchants offer; usually some bubbles, then a mixed selection of white and red wines, so that a variety of styles are offered.
Arranging successful delivery of the wine is an important part of giving wine as a gift. It sounds obvious but I’ve experienced some mis-steps along the way. In years gone by, I used a smart London based wine merchant. It all sounded good but there were issues with delivery.
For the last few years, I have used Yapp Brothers, an award winning wine merchant based in Mere, a small town in Wiltshire, in southern England who deliver promptly. They have the advantage of a large and comprehensive range of wines and they run a very efficient business.
Giving wine as a gift has increased my understanding and knowledge of wine and that’s been an enjoyable and unexpected consequence of the giving! A gift to me in other words!
Enjoy the gifting of wine this holiday season.
References: Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants, Mere, Wiltshire UK http://www.yapp.co.uk
John Keats’ (1795-1821) hauntingly beautiful description of ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ in his poem celebrating autumn come to mind as I look across the Dordogne valley in SW France on a chilly November morning.
On this day, the mists over the Dordogne Valley are celebrated at the same time as the roses are blooming at the end of lines of vines at Chateau Court les Muts. Roses are planted near vines as an early warning signal of mildew: if the roses have mildew then it’s likely the vines will too. These roses look very healthy!
This beautiful imagery of roses and vines with their striking and complimentary colours are part of the inspiration for this silver and enamel decanter wine label made to celebrate Saussignac and its wines of the area. It was created by English silversmith and enameller, Jane Short, MBE.
Saussignac Appellation d’origine Controlée (AOC) is one of the 13 AOCs of the Bergerac wine region and one of the six sweet white Bergerac wines including Côtés de Bergerac White, Côtés de Montravel, Haut Montravel, Monbazillac, Rosette and Saussignac.
Saussignac AOC is a liquoreux wine that can be served young or kept for many years. The grapes, Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle are harvested late when they are partially dried and this gives the wine its sweetness.
For wine and food pairing, it can either be served chilled as an aperitif or with foie gras or later in the meal with blue cheese like Saint Agur or Roquefort. That juxtaposition of sweet and salt is always delicious, or it can be served with a dessert.
The Saussignac wine in this decanter is from Chateau Monestier La Tour, 2013. The Chateau advises drinking this 2013 wine, which has been barrel aged, from 2019 through to 2025.
Saussignac is a little known AOC, often overshadowed by Monbazillac wines, or by Sauternes from the Bordeaux region. However, Saussignac wine has its own remarkable merits and is a recommended choice for the festive season.
Enjoy the colours and flavours of autumn!
John Keats, English poet 1795-1821 Ode to Autumn
Chateau Court les Muts https://court-les-muts.com
Chateau Monestier La Tour http://www.chateaumonestierlatour.com
Jane Short MBE., Silversmith and Enameller https://janeshort.com
There’s something about oranges, clementines, and mandarins that always me think of winter and the Christmas holidays.
Perhaps it’s remembering mediterranean holidays and city streets lined with fruit trees covered with oranges that resemble vibrant holiday decorations. Sweet memories in lockdown times.
All these thoughts of clementines inspire me to consider an orange cake to start the holiday celebrations. When a friend sends a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake the culinary decision is easy! It’s a great recipe for anyone watching their gluten intake, as it calls for almond flour. I limit the amount of sugar in any cooking I do and so substitute stevia for the sugar in the recipe. (A quick google check suggests the ratio of 8:1 sugar to stevia.) Another adjustment is to make mini cakes rather than a loaf cake. This makes it so easy to have a just a small taste of something sweet to finish a meal.
These mini cakes are moist and have the flavour of orange. I still want more orange flavour and decide an orange syrup is essential! I combine a couple of recipes to make this syrup which is essentially: juice of 4 oranges and 1 lemon, Agave syrup to taste instead of sugar. I simmer that combination and allow it to reduce in volume and add a tablespoon of Grand Marnier – the aromatic cognac and orange liqueur combination – and some candied orange peel. Result: yummy combination of mini clementine cake and orange syrup!
In wine and food pairing terms, a glass of Sauternes or another late harvest wine would be excellent or to start the celebrations, maybe continue with the taste of Grand Marnier Liqueur!
Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings to all.
References: Clementine Cake – Nigella Lawson http://www.nigella.com