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  • antoniamacfarlane1

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

After lazing beside a Scottish Loch on a sunny Sunday, my perfect evening finished with a homemade dinner and wine produced a littler closer to home...


We have recently been blessed with glorious sunshine in Scotland, something we are not quite used to. Taking advantage of the rare heat my boyfriend decided to drive out to the countryside and sunbathe on the banks of a local loch. To get to this particular spot you have to walk through fields filled with Highland Cows. After braving the beasts, we were able to spend an afternoon paddling in the crystal clear water and sunbathing whilst listening to the lapping loch and the distant 'moo' from our ginger friends.



After a successful sunburn we decided to return home. Requesting his favourite dinner I got to work making Katsu Curry, a thick sweet sauce made with honey, soy, bay leaves and a multitude of spices poured over sticky rice and served with crispy fried chicken.



The sweet nature of this sauce with the spice and savoury chicken can be a daunting pairing. However, when in doubt, peruse the aisle and read the back of a bottle. Here you will normally find ideal pairings and you can select what you are looking for.



For this family meal, I decided to pair the Japanese curry with a Surrey wine. As a result of climate change Scotland finally has sun during the summer and the English wine trade is booming. Climate change and the impact on the wine industry is a topic I could discuss for hours, so you will need to wait for another post. As the years go on English wine is getting more impressive, this is clear when reading wine critic reviews who are giving English wine higher evaluations.



This particular wine from M&S was produced in Dorking Surrey, right down the South of England. Only 21 miles from London this area has seen a multitude of vineyards popping up over the past 10 years. If you think about this areas geographical plato, it is situated very similarity to Champagne, therefore the argument goes that English Sparkling could be considered just as exceptional with bottles such as Nyetimber coming to mind, but then comes the counter argument of practice, appellation laws, terroir and so on (again a subject that needs a whole other post!)


Now with approximately 7,200 acres of land down South being occupied by vineyards, we are seeing and hearing a lot more about English Wine. The most common grape varieties planted are the well known Chardonnays and Pinot Noir but also the less known Bacchus, Seyval Blanc, Solaris and Reichensteiner. The majority of English wines are made from blends, including this one.


White Lily is made up of Reichensteiner, Bacchus, Seyval Blanc, Müller-Thurgau and Ortega. These less known varietals create a beautifully balanced wine light in nature and exceptionally crisp. Notes of apple, citrus and subtle earthiness this wine is a perfect summer companion. A beautiful pairing for sushi, lightly spiced or tangy dishes and summer salads, this bottle went perfectly with the Katsu Curry. Achieving a score of 3.6/5 on Vivino this 'easy to drink' wine is a perfect accompaniment for an evening with friends or boyfriends after a busy day splashing in lochs and running from cows...



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  • antoniamacfarlane1

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

With normality on the horizon as the days of lockdown ease, we must take a moment and appreciate the blessing of being able to enjoy quiet sunny Wednesday afternoons in our back gardens...


Whilst maintaining a two metre distance from an elderly couple when queuing the aisle in my local M&S, waiting to be called forward by the cashier, my eye caught this Riesling from Pfalz. The sun was shining and whilst perspiring in my facemark, gloves and coat, the possibility of having a chilled glass of wine while flicking through my magazines was irresistible.


Riesling, is a white wine grape famously planted in France and Germany. Although making appearances in new world territories such as Washington State U.S (one of the best I've tasted was from here) and Australia, this grape is Germany's favourite. Originating in the Rhine region, it has been widely planted and can produce a versatile range of styles. From sweet luscious wines with notes of tropical fruit, pineapple and nectarine to dry styles with citrus lemon and lime, green apple and mineral stone notes.

This wine was produced in Pfalz, Germany's second largest wine-growing region located on the West of the country. Just 80km across the boarder in France is Alsace, therefore there are stylistic similarities. Riesling is the most widely planted variety in this region and Pfalz has a reputation for high-quality products. Winemakers in this region have a inextinguishable creativity and spirit when it comes to producing their products. This individuality is prized among wine professionals as the passion is tangible within the wines produced.


The diverse terroir (the geographical make up of landscape, soils and climate) of this region allow for various flavours and characteristics. Due to the South West location of Pfalz the region is graced with glorious sunshine enabling wines rich with ripe fruit to be common. Due to this heat, Pfalz wines benefit from the harsh Germanic acidity often associated with wines from this country to be softened creating a well balanced 'Trocken' (bone dry) wine.


I started my lazy afternoon in the sun enjoying a pesto salad and a glass of this wine. Not the most likely paring, but I was in the mood for a slosh before my dinner. I sat and soaked up the sun reading my Condé Nast Traveller article encouraging travel to Armenia and highlighting the 'Hot List' of destinations this year...not that we will be going anywhere!



After successfully catching up with my subscriptions and building my summer tan I began making dinner. A easy quick tea for a sunny evening, haddock (I didn't have any sole) meunière with roasted Mediterranean veg. The Riesling was a perfect paring with this fish dish. The remaining Germanic acidity was beautifully balanced with the rich buttery sauce.



On Vivino, this wine receives a 3.6/5 star rating. Averaging at £6.64 a bottle this Riesling has notes of lemon and lime with undertones of peach and apples developed due to the warmer climate. Subtle earthy characteristics such as minerals and stone are also noted. Whether my enjoyment of this wine was influenced by my perfectly relaxing afternoon, delicious dinner or fresh tan, I cannot say. However, I would recommend this Pfalz Riesling to a friend and will be buying it again. Hopefully the sun will still be shining...


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Updated: May 29, 2020

After a long day of getting lost in Venice, it was time to stroll across the Rialto Bridge, hand in hand and enjoy the sun set on the glistening lagoon...



Earlier that morning, the sun was blazing as we were flying away from the madness towards Burano. As the tiny island came into view and the multicoloured fisherman's houses (enabling fishermen to find their way home on the darkest days) emerged we were enticed to dive further into the technicolored wonderland. After strolling the streets and having a leisurely lunch, a large bowl of Burano style seafood pasta (made from lagoon caught produce) we were ready to embark on the Vaporetto ride back towards the floating city.




The sensation of a holiday evening is indescribable but well known and adored. The tired reflection of the day gone and excitement of the evening ahead matched with the feeling of the evening glow on your face and the smell of coconut moisturiser from your pampering ritual before dinner creates a overall clam haze. As the last of the sun grazes your face, you can appreciate the day just past.



Walking through the crowds at the Rialto Bridge, we were keen to find a secluded spot to enjoy some wine and appreciate the falling evening away from the tourists and crowds. Wandering off the beaten track, we found a bar further down the canal, with views to the left of the famous bridge and to the right down the canal and into the sunset. With only two outdoor tables, we squeezed into a padded bench covered by vines and watched the sunset along with the passing crowds, floating gondolas and the soft sound of lapping water more than content with ourselves.



This is a perfect example of a setting influencing the review you would give a bottle. As we sat taking in the venetian sunset, we sipped a 'Giovanni Bellia, Manzoni Bianco.' This white from Italys Veneto region hit the spot, paired with extra salty crisps, a sublime balance was created between the acidity of the wine and salt from the snack. The Veneto region is the largest wine producing area in Italy and home to some of the best known varieties. Extending from southern Lake Garda to western Venice the terrain ranges from the bumpy foothills of the Alps to the flat plains surrounding the Po. The proximity to the Alps allows for cool climatic influences to breeze through the vineyards surrounding Lake Garda. In comparison, the area surrounding the Po experiences moist air, increasing the risk of grape rot. The flat plains offer the perfect fertile soil to create inexpensive and mass produced wine. Varieties include Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Chardonnay along with indigenous varieties such as Terbbiano and Corvina. Wines from this area are usually simplistic, light and fruity.


The light gold coloured wine we drank on the banks of the Grand Canal was exactly that. With a 3.2 rating on Vivino (my favourite wine app) it is evident that it was nothing extraordinary. With light notes of lemon, lime and other soft citrus this wine was very mild on the palate. Scoring 2/5 on the light to bold scale, 2/5 on the dry to sweet scale and 3.5/5 on the soft to acidic scale. Described by some as a 'forgettable wine' it will forever be an unforgettable moment. I will always be able to recall watching the pink sky reflecting on the turquoise canal, hearing the distant singing of a gondolier serenading his customers whilst enjoying my light wine, salty crisps and great company.


-Antonia

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