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My next wine tasting is coming up in a few weeks on March 17th from 5 – 7PM and spaces are booking up fast – sign up now to reserve your space! If you haven’t come to a tasting before, they are hosted out of my home in Battersea (right near the park). You will be welcomed with a glass of sparkling (or perhaps mulled cider to be on theme) and invited to sit down by the fire.

We will be tasting some lovely wines paired with Irish specialties like salt beef (aka corned beef), strong cheddar cheese and some sort of lovely potato dish – because you can’t have an Irish party without potatoes! We will finish off with my two favourite Irish spirits: Hennessy and Baileys. Before you say it, I know that Hennessy isn’t Irish but its Irish to me! If you come to the tasting, I will tell you why. For those of you that love a good sing-a-long, we’ll have some catchy Irish pub songs playing in the background during the evening (guitars, aspiring singers and musicians are welcome!).

Future dates are posted as well and sign ups are welcome. Get in touch if you have any ideas or suggestions – they are welcomed and appreciated.

Sláinte

Kristen

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Thanks to my wonderful guests who attended the tasting this afternoon. I was glad to meet a few new people and see some good friends’ faces. I hope to see all of you again at a tasting in the future.
As promised, here is a list of the wines that we went through today.

WineTasting_Feb13

Saumur, Gratien & Meyer Brut, £12
Champagne, Rose Brut, Gauthier, £33
Sauvignon Blanc, Geisen 2011 Marlborough New Zealand, £10
Cabernet, Merlot & Cabernet Franc, Vergelegen 2009, £11 **GROUP FAVOURITE**
Pinotage, Barista 2010 South Africa, £9
Reserve Port, Taylors First Estate, £12
Palo Cortado Viejo, Apostoles £17

Food pairings:
Sparkling – Homemade bread, toasted with goats cheese, basil & garlic
Cabernet – Sliced & grilled chorizo
Pinotage – Chocolate (60% cacao)
Palo Cortado – Banana Walnut & Caramel cake (homemade by Blair – recipe to follow)

Also, I mentioned a few things during the tasting that people asked I make note of:
-My favourite region in Spain is Bierzo. There are some stunning examples available but a lovely one that is widely available is Petalos, Bierzo 2009.
Viu Manent Reserve Carmenere is an absolute stunner and highly recommended if you enjoy this style.

I will be posting new dates shortly. If you’re interested in learning more about wine – or just meeting some new people – make sure to sign up! I will look forward to hosting you.

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I hosted my second wine tasting at my flat yesterday and welcomed an intimate group of lovely new friends into my home. We tried wines from around the world – with personal stories from the group to match! I have posted pictures of the wines below as well as some notes on our reviews. Please excuse the quality of the pictures – my lovely photographer friend, Jackee, is on holiday so I took them myself (yikes!).

What we covered: 
Introduction to tasting & discussion of glassware
Food & wine pairing – don’t overcomplicate it
New world & Old world wines and what some of the differences are
3 basic steps to tasting a wine
Party tricks for tasting and talking about wine (i.e. impress your friends…or just weird them out with your slurping technique!)

Wines we tried: 
Glass of Prosecco DOC, Corte Alta with Elderflower port (from Yorkshire) to start
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011
Gran Vendama Rioja Crianza 2009 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Giesen Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2010
Barista Pinotage, South Africa, 2011 **CROWD FAVOURITE
Taylors Late Bottled Harvest Port, 2006
Finished off with french press coffee w/ Baileys to prep my guests for the cold

Everyone left slightly merry with a lot of laughter which is exactly how I like it.

A few suggestions were made for future tastings which I will be taking on board:
Around the world with one grape – find the same grape from different regions around the world and try them all together.
Sherry is not just your Grandma’s drink – this one I will find more challenging as Sherry is not my favourite but alas, when the crowd wants it the show must go on.

If you want to join in on the fun, sign up for a future tasting or drop me a note.

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If you’ve been hoping to increase your knowledge and awareness of amazing wines this holiday season, make sure to sign up for some upcoming tastings. Spots are still available and cost is either by donation or £10 (until 11th Nov). Its a great way to get a handle of what types of wine will impress your friends and family as well as yourself this holiday season.

For the Nov 17th tasting, so far we have a yummy Port, some gorgeous Bordeaux, a few South African stunners and maybe even a cheeky Bierzo. Sign up today!

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What better time to get up to speed on what wines you like, love and covet than when you are preparing for upcoming festivities with family and friends? There are a million ways to start brushing up on your skills: Head to your local supermarket/wine shop and ask lots of questions (many times they will have tastings available while you browse – just ask), Attend a tasting (lots of places offer tastings – speciality shops, wine shops, liquor stores, etc. Keep your eyes peeled), Talk to your friends (many people have a favorite bottle of wine that they use as their ‘go to’ tipple for any celebration. Ask people you know for suggestions and you may just discover a new gem!).
For my part, I will be hosting, attending and conversing about all things wine in the next two months (have a look at what I’m up to here and sign up if you’re interested). As always, if you want to swap ideas – pull up a chair and let’s chat.

Essentials for any successful holiday: 
Brandy – my favourite is Hennessy VSOP. Top it with a bit of ginger ale for a spritzy buzz or some spicy eggnog for a classic holiday treat
Sparkling wine – the holiday favourite in my household is Prosecco because of its light body, balanced flavour and general yummy-ness (plus it can be enjoyed at any time of day…)
Good, full bodied red wine – this is the absolute must have. I love picking a few favourites each year to share with my family. I am still in the discovery phase for this year’s celebrations and will be using my upcoming tastings to explore a few pre-selected Malbecs, Petit Syrahs, Bordeauxs and Tannats. Stay tuned…

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I started off the weekend with a hike in Surrey with my good friend. Just a 40 minute train ride from London Victoria and we were in the countryside, bathed in fall colours and surrounded by rolling hills. The wind has gotten really cold this past week and we were very much unprepared for just how chilly it would be but the fresh air and gorgeous scenery made for a truly enjoyable trip. 5 miles later, we gratefully plunked ourselves on the warm train back to London.

Our friends were getting together for a Halloween party later on in the day so we parted at Victoria in order to head to our respective homes and get ready. Even though I was freezing, I love being able to walk around the city when I have time so I decided to wander back to Battersea on foot. I took advantage of the great little food shops on Warwick Way and Lupus Street and picked up a few nibbles for my afternoon at home. While the fresh pesto and pecorino was ooey-gooey deliciousness, the stunning part of my afternoon was opening up this gorgeous South African Chenin Blanc that I had received as a gift from a dear friend. I have not explored South Africa very much and after tasting this wine, I have realised that I need to get cracking. This wine is best described as pure elegance. Instead of waxing lyrical about the tasting notes, I am just going to steal a quote from ‘All About Wine‘:  “Arguably South Africa’s top ‘Award-Winning’ Chenin Blanc is purity itself! A sumptuous, flavourful Chenin from this excellent Tulbagh estate, which manages to combine richness with a delicate, elegant palate.” It isn’t cheap but nor is it overpriced at £17. It would be perfect with a Sunday lunch and would impress the socks off any Chardonnay lover.

Rijk’s Private Cellar, Chenin Blanc 2008, Barrel Fermented & Handpicked. £16.99
www.rijks.co.za

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I have just returned from a whirlwind 3 weeks abroad: 1 week in Burgundy, 1 week in Fontainebleau and 4 days in Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. I rode a bike through Premier Cru vines in Pommard, ate grapes off the recently harvested vines in Volnay and celebrated my birthday in a gorgeous restaurant in Puligny filled with my Aussie friends and run by a Burgundian chef and his Belgian wife. I graduated from my marketing certification program at INSEAD and celebrated with 40 new friends and colleagues, leaving campus with a branded French beret to boot.
I touched the stone slab that Jesus Christ was prepared for burial, saw the empty tomb where He was buried and walked in His footsteps through Jerusalem. I prayed at the Wailing Wall and watched a class of Israeli Army graduates celebrate with their families. I dove in to Israeli wine, trying many stunning varieties, and experienced the exquisite delight of Israeli hummus. I floated in the Dead Sea, dunked my head (don’t do it…) in the mineral baths and rocked it out with 80 of my colleagues from across Europe at a nightclub in Tel Aviv. I arrived back in London yesterday, went in to the office to say goodbye to a lovely colleague who is shortly getting on a plane to move to Sydney. I am taking over his responsibilities for the UK market and took this last opportunity to glean all I could from his experience – while passing on my favourite things for him to go, see, do in Sydney (and living vicariously through him). Coming back to my flat in London last night was a surreal experience. I feel a bit lost and deflated yet full of energy. London is colder and more gray than when I left but the trees are changing colours and my flat is taking on a cosy and comfortable feel. I am happy to be back but have a sense of anxiety about what’s next, perhaps because of the crazy sequence of experiences that I have just come away from. I suppose the best thing to do is what’s most natural to me: just dive in, roll with the punches and figure it out as I go…

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