The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club

Knackered Mother's Wine ClubI’m in it! No honestly I am. I drink wine and I’m knackered, so that means I am in it. Are you?

I *watch it claim to fame coming up* actually met Knackered Mother a few years back, we were invited to a vlogging camp by BritMums in London and we sat next to one another, one more clueless than the other and we talked wine as it was one of our common denominators – apart from being knackered, that was the other.

Anyway Helen and I chatted, I told her about setting up a wine bar in the hotel in Italy with my ex and having to taste every bottle of wine Italy could throw at me, for research purposes you know and she told me she used to buy wine for a major British supermarket, so she won that chat hands down but how goddamn cool is that? Helen’s street cred shot up a billion points with that nugget of info.

Anyway, via Twitter or Facebook we’ve kept in touch. She reprimanded me when I wrote about our stay in Sandy Balls as she was close by – a missed opportunity to drink more wine together and recently I received a copy of her brand new book.

The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club

Now you’re all going to say, oh but she’s your friend so your bound to say the book’s good which is true BUT let me tell you this. It’s awesome!

For example answer these questions

  • Do you – Frequently panic in the wine aisle and end up reaching for the same old thing. Every. Single. Time?
  • Simply pick the bottle with the nicest looking label?
  • Always choose the second cheapest wine on the wine menu?
  • Feel it may be time to extend your wine horizons beyond Pinot Grigio?

If you answered yes to the above then this book is for you too

Because life’s too short to drink bad wine

That’s KM’s quote above by the way and she does write very well indeed, in fact you must bookmark her homonymous blog with the same name Knackered Mother’s Wine Club because every week she gives the white in the fridge and the red in the rack and all the info a KM needs to know. It’s insanely easy and she knows what she’s talking about.

So without giving too much of the book away because it really does deserve to be on your bookshelf I have discovered there’s more to wine than just Italy – yes we all know I am Italy obsessed but since reading I have tried a Falanghina from Puglia and a Nero’d’Avola from Sicily – yes I know they’re both Italian but they were KM’s suggestions, next up is a Viognier from Chile and a Garnacha from Spain.

I can honestly say the Chardonnay from New Zealand was delicious, I think I may have even tweeted her that one. Helen has had this amazing shopping list drawn up and I copied it onto my shopping list. Colour/Where from?/grape made from/why choose it?

Simples, she gives the country ie Italy (not that I’m pushing Italian wine or anything here) the region Campania and off you go to the supermarket and search.

First up it’s amazing to find myself actually looking at what’s in the bottle, I’ve discovered an entire new world to explore and secondly, I’m starting to enjoy shopping for wine rather than head for the 3 x £10 or on special this week. which however are not to be knocked because as Helen says in her book (which you really must get) sometimes they put some fabulous wines on special and of course if you recognise them you can stock your wine shelves up and make the most of the bargain.

So, have I convinced you? I hope so, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t buy it. It’s on sale for RRP £12.99 but right now Amazon is offering it for £8.44 with Free Super Saver Delivery get in there!

PS Tonight from 8 – 9pm @knackeredmutha will be on Twitter doing a Q&A with @TescoWines, come and check it out

Which wines to drink with Christmas dinner?

asda winesIf you happen to be shopping in Asda over the next few days and your trolley happens to take you down the wine aisle, as it sometimes does, you might want to keep an eye out for their brand new range ‘The Wine Selection.

I was recently sent 6 bottles from the range to try as I was unable to make it to the launch event in London so please find my thoughts on the ones I tried here

Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

I love white wine, I also love Sauvignon so this was bound to be a winner for me and it was, crisp and refreshing and the notes on Asda wine say ‘blends flowery aromas with bursts of citrus’ well we’d have to ask Knackered Mother about that but it definitely got the Mari’s World seal of approval 9/10. Dry and refreshing sells at £5.98

Chardonnay Pays d’Oo

I think Chardonnay must be my very favourite white wine especially an oaked one as I love the stronger flavour the oak brings out. I can’t find the exact bottle on the site that they sent me (probably my fault) but there are a selection of very fine Chardonnay’s retailing at about £5.00 a bottle. Mari’s World vote 10/10

Chilean Syrah Rose

I will always go for white over rose as many do and that’s a bit unfair as there are some extremely good rose wines out there so I’m happy to be pushed into drinking a rose every now and then so long as it’s a good one. Sometimes they are too sweet and stand neither here nor there in my opinion. Luckily the Syrah rose from the Wine Selection range is good. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this wine, it is fruity but dry and elegant with it. Retails at £4.00 Mari’s World vote 7/10

Old Vine Garnacha – Carenina

Beautiful bottle and would make a perfect present to a red wine lover, this red gets top marks from me. A full bodied red Spanish wine  from Zaragoza in eastern Spain it is a concentration of fruity full flavour, perfect to accompany roasts and big meals. Was £7.98 now down to £5.00 – top marks from Mari’s World 10/10

Barossa Valley – Shiraz

Another superb red from the range and only £5.00 a bottle. Rich and full bodied with spice and brambly flavours this got the thumbs up from all who tasted Mari’s world vote 9/10

Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon

A perfectly decent Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain retailing at £4.00 a soft red wine with fruity flavours Mari’s World vote 8/10

So if you’re looking to stock up on wine for Crimbo take a look down the Asda aisle you’ll be amazed at the superb wines you can get for decent prices

Disclosure: I was sent 6 bottles of wine by Asda, I didn’t have to write a post but I enjoyed them all and thought I’d pass the tip on

The Italian Dolomites

The Dolomites are a beautiful mountain range located in the north-east of Italy and are equally shared between the three provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol and Belluno. There is another smaller group called the Piccole Dolomiti close by and that is where I called home whilst I spent close to 20 years in Italy. The Dolomites are full of parks including one national park and has also been declared a natural heritage site by UNESCO.

Steeped in history, during the First World War the line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces ran through the mountain range and many open air war museums can be visited such as Cinque Torri. Many people visit the area to climb the Vie Ferrate, protected paths also created during the First World War and also to trek the Alte Vie, long ‘high’ trails numbered 1 – 8 requiring at least a week to walk through and served by mountain huts along the way for refuge, the most nominated being the  Alta Via 1

The Dolomites are famous for skiing in the winter, (a subject close to my heart and which I shall return to in the autumn *watch this space*) and all kinds of sports in the summer months such as mountain climbing, hiking, cycling, base-jumping, para-gliding and hang gliding. Free climbing has been a tradition in the Dolomites since 1887 when 17 year old Georg Winkler conquisted the ascent of the pinnacle Die Vajolettürme!

Today I am going to concentrate on the Region of Trentino as I know it so well and for those who are not lovers of the sun, sand and sea holiday this could be the perfect alternative. Trentino is a huge favourite with the Italians themselves, many flock from the hot sticky towns in the height of summer in order to sleep at night in a cool environment, to enjoy the sun but in a fresher climate and to savour the sweet mountain air which of course works up quite an appetite. And if it’s food you’re worried about let me tell you hand on heart, you’ll be in your element, the menus are full of delicious options such as Strangolapreti (spinach gnocchi), or Gulash and polenta, a firm favourite from this part of the world. In fact watch out for the Polenta di patate which is sublime.

Are you a wine lover? Then this region is bursting with prize winning wines from the full bodied red San Leonardo, grown in the Adige Valley to the deliciously bubbly prosecco Ferrari. Some of my favourites are the Vallarom oaked Chardonnay, a Gaierhof Nosiola or a Barbanico made from one of my favourite cantina’s Balter Do look them up and see if they’re available close to you, they are delicious.

So where to go in Trentino? Well some may have already been as Riva del Garda at the top of Lake Garda is in Trentino and of course I must mention my old home town of Folgaria which I shall highlight properly one week but here are a few other places that are well worth a visit should I have tempted you; the Altopiani Cimbri , Madonna di Campiglio e Val Rendena, the Val di Non con Tuenno, Cles and Sarnonico. Here are some Travel organisers who specialise in the area from the UK and for more information make Visit Trentino your first stop.

This is my letter D for Jenny Matlock’s Alphabe Thursday where you can find plenty more interesting D’s to read

I’m dreaming of Christmas

Today I received my first Christmas catalogue through the post, that is my dreaded ‘C’ word . A certain 24studio.co.uk who I have no idea how they got my address but that didn’t stop me looking through it. Just In Case :)

Funnily enough I have already thought about Christmas 2010 already this year and that happened to be when we cleared out the loft and I came across our decorations, it occurred to me, along with a smile, that I would be putting them up in a new house  this year and there the thought stopped. Phew!

However, I then registered another flash thought a week ago. I was looking at some photos of the new place and imagining where my tree would go. (I know it’s exciting isn’t it!)

Not only that but every year when the sun is beating down and I’m lying on a beach somewhere, my thoughts ALWAYS drift off to Christmas. Likewise on Christmas day when I’m surrounded by my loved ones and about to crack open a decent bottle of red to wash the turkey down I think of the summer and hot days and nights.

It must be because they are both my favourite times of year and things I look forward to on the calendar. So I thought I’d dedicate a post to these thoughts and ask you.

Have you caught yourself thinking of Christmas 2010 yet?