28 Jan 2014

Two interesting cheap wines from Latitude Wine in Leeds

I bought these two from the brilliant Latitude Wine the other day. I've had the garnacha before - it's very good value - and I'm hoping the Paparuda pinot noir from Romania will be a bargain too.

It seems Eastern Europe is making a comeback, with a growing reputation for good value and interesting wines - I remember really enjoying a Hungarian pinot noir at Sam's Chop House last year - so I'm looking forward to trying this one.

Also, a reminder you don't have to shop at supermarkets to find cheap wine: with a Latitude loyalty card giving 10% off, the Paparuda pinot noir cost me just £6.75 and the Borsao garnacha was £5.85.

24 Jan 2014

How to get through a dry January - Netflix!

There are valid arguments for and against doing a Dry January or at least cutting down your alcohol intake for a month. It's a personal choice - only you will know whether it would be worthwhile. But if you are doing a dry January and you've come this far, well done - and I bet in many cases it's because you've devoted that wine glass-shaped hole in your life to other things.

That's what I think might often be the key to cutting down your drinking: making sure you do something else instead. Because drinking good wine or good beer is a hobby like any other - in fact no, it's a passion, as they'd say on Masterchef - and when you suddenly drop any pastime you love, especially one with addictive properties, you're going to miss it.

How to cut down your alcohol intake

So, do something else you enjoy doing that'll feed your senses or your soul, much like wine would've done. Go out for runs; read more novels; watch more films; do whatever appeals to you, so long as it's fairly healthy and it's something you'll realistically stick with.

I was thinking about this, as we've been enjoying the free introductory trial to Netflix this month while simultaneously giving our livers a break, and it's been great. There's been plenty of good stuff to watch so far, and that's without yet even starting on any of the TV series, just sticking to the films. In an ideal world the selection on offer could do with more recently released films, but we've still found plenty to enjoy.

Netflix tips

There Will Be Blood is great: a performance of proper acting by Daniel Day-Lewis in a slightly odd and old-school way (director Paul Thomas Anderson's other films, not on Netflix, are great too by the way); Shame was compelling and dark; The Help was excellent (apparently it's a great book too); Amour was beautifully shot and brilliantly played by both leads - in particular I thought by Jean-Louis Trintignant who played the husband - though a tiny glint of more humour here and there to ease the relentless gloom might've improved it still further.

We've also watched a fair few less serious films - January can be dark enough as it is, after all - and if romcoms or daft capers are your thing I'd say give Nine Months; High Fidelity, Priceless and Gambit a go. Wasn't massively taken, though, with When In Rome; Conversations With Other Women and Like Crazy.

So there you go, consider this an early recommendation of Netflix. And who knows, maybe it can even improve your health. Unless watching a film without glass of wine in hand just isn't the same...

10 Jan 2014

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2011 - a brilliant wine

We drank this in the last hour or two of the final day of 2013 - and it might just've been my favourite wine of the whole year.

It smelt and tasted floral and natural, somehow, reminding me a bit of the really good Spanish wines I've drunk. It made us think of weddings: fragrant wafts of perfume; bright flowers; deep, fruity cake.

A brilliant way to end the year, though with the bittersweet realisation there are very few wines of this class left in our rack now and they're not going to be replaced any time soon...

I bought it many months ago at Harvey Nichols, but it looks a great buy at Slurp for £16.95 if your new year budget can stretch to it.