drink

Give a better bottle this Christmas!

Ever since the wise men gave Jesus a bottle of Frankincense, the giving of a bottle of something lovely at Christmas can make the perfect gift.

However, the rise of cheaper and mass produced wines and spirits mean that finding something really special can be something of a lottery.

At Charles Rose Wines, we make finding the perfect Christmas gift easy. Whether it’s a fine wine, aged port or a vintage champagne, we have a fantastic range of perfect presents this Christmas.

All of our wines and spirits have been carefully chosen for their quality and individuality. We work hard with our suppliers to find great quality wines at the best possible price. Plus, when combined with our beautiful gift boxes, the lucky recipient knows they are receiving a carefully selected bottle that looks as special as the thought that went into choosing it (rather than just a supermarket special!)

If you are looking for wine gifts this Christmas time, but are unsure what to purchase, please check out our gift buying guide or feel free to email, tweet or connect with us on facebook and our helpful team of wine experts will be sure to point you in the right direction.

So as we say, don’t just give a bottle, give a better bottle this Christmas!

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Charles’ Ultimate Gift Buying Guide

At Charles Rose Wines, we make finding the perfect Christmas gift easy. Whether it’s a fine wine, aged port or a vintage champagne, we have a fantastic range of perfect presents this Christmas.

If you are unsure of what is the best choice for that special someone this Christmas, why not have a look at our suggestions for a very merry Christmas.

Dapper Dads (and Grandads)

Quinta do Noval 20 Year Old Tawny Port

Noval 20

This delicious blend of ports is carefully matured in oak casks. The perfect way to round off a delicious Christmas lunch.

Marvellous Mums (and Grandmas)

The Mionetto Sergio Prosecco or Mionetto Rose Sergio Prosecco

 

Whether you opt for the White or the Rose prosecco, mum’s everywhere are bound to love these superb sparkling proseccos from the Veneto and Trentino areas of Italy.

Party Princesses

Deutz Brut Rose Champagne

Deutz Rose

It’s party season and what better way for party princesses to celebrate than with a glass of fabulous pink champagne in hand.

Lovers of all things Vintage

Deutz Brut Vintage 2006 Champagne

Deutz Vintage.jpg

This champagne is a class act. Perfect for those who love the finer things in life.

Quinta do Noval Silval Vintage Port 2005

Noval Silval 2005

A superb vintage port, perfect to enjoy now.

Those who dare to be different

Quinta do Noval White Port

Noval White

Perfect for those who love to try new things.

Gonzalez Byass 12 Anos Palo Cortado Sherry

Sherry

While Sherry used to be reserved for the Christmas trifle, this wine is not just for Christmas and is certainly on trend this year.

The Wine Aficionado

The Around the World Mixed Case

Case The Aroud The World

If you can’t decide between white or red, then our Around the World case will do the job for you. A great way for wine aficionado’s to sample a wide range of wines.

Organic Foodies/Gin Lover

Forest Gin, Premium London Gry Gin

Gin

This award winning gin is hand-crafted in small batches and is made with organic certified botanicals foraged from Macclesfield Forest.

If you would like any more help, please be sure to email, tweet or connect with us on facebook and our helpful team of wine experts will be sure to point you in the right direction.

Happy hunting!

Chianti or Chianti Classico – What’s the Difference?

Ever wondered why some Chianti’s are called Chianti Classico and some aren’t? We sum up the distinctions for you, starting with Chianti.

Where it is made

A Chianti wine must be produced within the Chianti region. So far so good.

The first mention of a wine area called Chianti dates back to the 13th Century. At that time, the area included the villages of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Radda in Chianti. These three villages in the hills between Florence and Sienna formed the League of Chianti to promote their wine – interestingly, at this time it was a white wine!

It was none other than Cosimo III de’ Medici, the penultimate Grand Duke of Tuscany, who in 1716 added the village of Greve and a further area to the north of Greve to the League and declared that these were the only recognised producers of Chianti.

This delineation remained until July 1932 when the Italian government expanded the zone, doing so again in 1967, to cover a large part of central Tuscany. Today the Chianti zone has eight distinct districts, all of which have Denominazione di origine controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status. Chianti Classico is one such district.

DOCG status is the strictest of the three destination of origin regulations used in Italy. These require wine produced in such an area to use defined production methods and meet rigorous standards of quality.

What it contains

Baron Ricasoli created the Chianti recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca in the middle of the 19th Century. In 1967, DOC regulation set by the Italian government firmly established the “Ricasoli formula” of a Sangiovese-based blend with 10–30% Malvasia and Trebbiano.

However by the 1970s producers were releasing blends with a higher proportion of Sangiovese. These so called “Super Tuscans” began to outperform the established Chianti’s on price. The Italian authorities responded by upping the content of Sangiovese in Chianti’s to between 75% and 90% – note, this did not affect Classico or Riserva wines.

So what about Classico?

Chianti Classico wines must be produced within the Classico district of Chianti. This district includes the original Chianti heartland dating back to the 13th Century.

As with Bordeaux, the different districts of Chianti have unique characteristics that can be exemplified and perceived in some wines from those areas. Chianti Classico wines are premium Chianti wines that tend to be medium-bodied with firm tannins and medium-high to high acidity. Floral, cherry and light nutty notes are characteristic aromas.

Chianti Classico must be at least 80% Sangiovese, must have a minimum alcohol of at least 12% with a minimum of 7 months aging in oak. Also, since 2006 Chianti Classico cannot be white, it can only be red.

What’s with the Black Rooster?

Chianti Classico wines are easily identified by the black rooster seal (known as a ‘Gallo Nero’) on the neck of the bottle. This indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium, the local association of producers. The consortium was founded in 1924 to protect and promote Chianti Classico and to prevent wine fraud.

Legend has it that in the 13th Century, the warring provinces of Florence and Siena agreed to settle their border dispute on the crow of a cockerel. The provinces agreed to a race; when the first cockerel crowed at dawn they would each send out their fastest rider to the rival city. Where the riders met would become the new boundary.

On the night before the race, the Florentines starved their black cockerel to ensure that he sang earlier, thereby giving their rider an advantage. Hence the inclusion of the black cockerel motif to designate superiority.

It has been said that when you taste Chianti Classico, you’ll never forget it – and we couldn’t agree more.

If you are interested in trying a Chianti Classico we have one available.

Image is “Montefioralle-Panorama“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Britons To Spend More On Wine Than The French

Since the credit crunch of 2008 we might be drinking less in Blighty but that hasn’t stopped the value of the UK wine market increasing by 15% to around £10.6 billion in 2014.

At this point, you could rightly conclude that if we are drinking less wine but spending more then its because of tax.

Tax on wine has gone up considerably in the UK since 2008, by almost 60% (£1.56 to £2.47 inc. VAT). Thats quite a lot, and the third highest in Europe behind Ireland and Finland (they have VAT at 23% and 24% respectively!) In France you’d pay just 3 pence in duty on a bottle of wine… sigh…

However, its not just tax, our spending habits have changed. Apparently the biggest growth is in the premium wines area for bottles costing between £7 and £14.

So we are drinking less but prepared to spend more to get a better product. If we continue to do that then by 2018 we will be spending £11.3 billion a year according to forecasts by Vinexpo, and we will have displaced France as the world’s second biggest still wine market. The US is the biggest and currently bigger than the French and British markets combined.

Full story in the FT.

Forget About White Wine Sending Women Loopy! Does It Even Actually Exist?

Does white wine send women loopy? Does it even exist? It’s not an existential question, this is a wine blog after all!

The commonly held belief is that red and white wine grapes are fundamentally different because white wine grapes lack the pigment that turns red wine grapes red.

However, an article in New Scientist seems to refute this. It turns out that white wine grapes do contain the same pigments in red wine grapes, anthocyanins, just in far lower concentrations.

This explains why some bottles that are intended to be white wine, can actually come out with a tint of rosé.

So, if white wine grapes are just red wine grapes with lower concentrations of anthocyanins, do we really only have red wine grapes? Do we only really have wine grapes? Does white wine even exist?! Thats as much pondering on that subject as we are prepared to do.

Turning to the bigger story of late, the Daily Mail’s story that white wine turns women crazy! The Telegraph has a more balanced approach, as you might expect, to addressing this particular urban legend.

Decide for yourself, but know this, if white wine does send you (or anyone you know regardless of gender) crazy then its highly probable red wine would also have the same effect!

Image is “White Wine” by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Smoking Bishop: A Great Way To Use Up Leftover Port

Christmas and New Year are now but a distant memory… but you’ve still got some Port left. If at this point you are thinking:

“No I haven’t, I drank it all”

then you can skim read the rest of this post!

If by some miracle you do have some port left, here is a great idea on how to use it up.

Smoking Bishop

If you’ve never seen a Smoking Bishop then the good news is you can make one with relatively few ingredients. It’s basically a mulled wine recipe using Port, red wine and some spices.

Whilst researching this recipe I was surprised to learn that it was mentioned in arguably the first cookbook written for ordinary people. Eliza Acton, an English poet and cook, wrote Modern Cookery for Private Families which was published in 1845. Apparently, the cookbook set the standard for listing ingredients and suggesting cooking times for each recipe. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was apparently inspired by it.

Eliza’s recipe is a bit elaborate, for example saying:

Boil one bottle of port wine, burn a portion of the spirit out of it by applying a lighted paper to the saucepan…

At that point the thought of using a whole bottle and possibly losing our eyebrows turned us off this recipe, so here is the one we made instead.

Ingredients

  • 150ml of Port – we used Ruby but any will do
  • 150ml of red wine – we used Rioja, buy again any will do
  • 100ml of orange juice – we used fresh, smooth without bits, use your judgment!
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 medium sized orange
  • some whole cloves

Optional (if you have it)

  • 1 pinch of allspice
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of ginger

Putting it together

Cut the orange into quarters then cut the quarters in half or into three to make eight or twelves wedges. Stud each of the wedges with three or four cloves.

Put all the ingredients together in a saucepan on a low heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. This should allow the honey to dissolve and the spices to infuse. Ladle into heat proof glasses and you’re done!

(Note, push those cloves in, ours all fell out in the pan!)

Celebrate With A Champagne & Port Cocktail

Here at Charles Rose Wines we love Champagne and we love Port. IF you struggle to choose between them then thankfully, there’s a celebration drink which uses both!

Nelson’s Blood Champagne Cocktail is so named for the bitter-sweet victory of the British fleet over the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21st 1805. Sweet as this prevented Napoleon Bonepart’s ships from breaking the British naval blockade. Bitter as it cost Admiral Horatio Nelson, who commanded the British fleet, his life.

It’s up to you whether or not you acknowledge the history behind this particular cocktail, although if you had no reason to celebrate on the 21st of October, now you do! Either way, its a great drink, and here is our spin on how to make it.

Ingredients

Optional – for frosting:

  • fruit juice or syrup
  • fine white sugar, brown sugar or icing sugar
  • tea plate or small shallow bowl (larger than the glass you want to use)
  • flat plate for the sugar

Frosting Preparation (Optional)

Rinse a glass of your choice in cold water and put it in a freezer for half an hour.

Whist your glass is cooling prep your frosting by cutting a slice of fruit if you are using fruit, and putting your chosen sugar onto a flat plate so you can press your glass into it when it is ready.

When the glass has frosted moisten the rim of it so that the sugar will stick. If you are using an actual fruit you can gentry run some cut fruit around the edge. If you are using actual juice of syrup then pour or squeeze a little onto a tea plate and gently place the glass into the liquid. Then press the glass into the sugar.

To twist or not to twist… often debated, do what you think works best. Twisting will add more coating.

Your glass is now frosted!

Drink Mixing

Carefully pour a shot (40ml or so) of Port into your glass. Top this off with Champagne and gently stir to mix but not release too much of the fizz. Pour carefully so as not to disturb your beautiful frosting!

That’s it! A perfect celebratory drink combining two of our favourites!

If you have a favourite cocktail then get in touch and let us know what it is!

A Bottle Of Wine For 50p – Only In Australia!

Very occasionally in Australia water is more expensive than wine.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s true and happening again right now for a whole host of reasons.

Australia is one of the world’s big wine exporters, shipping 750 million litres a year overseas. Right now there is flagging demand internationally so much of the wine that was originally intended for export is now available to the domestic market.

Partly this is due to a strong Australian currency, particularly against the US dollar, depressing Australia’s export market. Around 17% of wine imported to the US is from Australia.

Furthermore, the strong currency makes it more likely that other countries will increase exports to Australia, further driving down local prices.

Another interesting aspect of this is that duty on wine in Australia is set according to price. So, the lower the price you charge, the less duty you pay.

Finally, there is a lack of retail choice. Currently two supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, have 70% of the wine retail market, which means that there is little opportunity for producers to negotiate higher prices for their products.

All in all, this perfect storm means you can buy a bottle of wine in Australia for as little as one Australian dollar, or around 50p.

The full story from The BBC.