a quirky look at London Life


Falling on and off the wagon in January, I decided in February not to plunge too readily into the daily “house wine” syndrome and go for the LESS IS MORE approach, in other words go up market a bit or snoop around my local supermarkets looking for more expensive – or even more interesting wines.

And boy, do they have them! Sainsbury’s (O2) have a SELECT range and Waitrose (Finchley Rd) have a FINE WINE rack – and the prices aren’t all that put-off-able, given that the intention is to buy less!
But were the wines any good?

There were a couple of expensive disappointments –especially in the Pinot Noir sections and in the English wines on display, but there were also some really great wines that did demonstrate that if you go for the more expensive, you will get better. ça va sans dire perhaps, but not toujours!

Dining at home, I had decided to try to match these “better” wines with thought-out food which led to some stupendous results – let me preface this by saying that I was trying in these experiments to find food to match the wine and not the other way around!

So, first (from Waitrose) the wickedly named THE HEDONIST, a sensous Shiraz, grown biodynamically, dark and silky- a fabulous wine from McLaren Vale and currently on offer at £10.99 down from £13.99. I drank it with my own ragu. I have read that in Bologna they don’t “do” Spaghetti Bolognese – it’s ragu – mostly meat with a light tomato sauce – I used (a very few) on-the-vine pomodoro tomatoes melted in butter and garlic and a touch of bouillon on best beef mince.


Then (again from Waitrose) a Rolf Binder blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes – this had a truly opulent finish – real quality, just what I’d been looking for and (again) on offer at £10.99 from £13.99. This to accompany a mushroom and spinach risotto.


From Sainsbury’s then one of my favourite wines – a Gavi di Gavi, this one from the famous Ascheri winery; it came with a bouquet of violets; this was a mild mannered white but with a good mineral finish. This with some plaice and butter and parsley and new potatoes from Whole Foods in Piccadilly. The wine is on offer until March reduced from £14 to £11.


And again from Sainsbury’s a Jean Garde un-oaked Chardonnay, refined and I thought perfect with an up market Chinese take away on the 24th to celebrate Chinese New Year, great price too – £8.75! So the Chardonnay with Beijing’s most famous dish – Peking Duck and from the Co-op a tangy Marlborough Brancrot Estate Sauvignon Blanc (£10.49) with the sweet and sour shrimp course starter.


And for dessert, perhaps some poetry from the noble T’ang dynasty (618-907AD) to befit this February of 2015 –

From poet, Po Chu-i

Newly brewed green-ants wine,
A little stove of red clay.
This evening it looks like snow,
Can you drink a cup with me?

Or this from Liu Yu-hsi, from his poem “Sitting at Leisure..”

On my desk are open ancient books,
By my elbow chests of herbs and medicines ..
I reduce my reading to save my sight,
I stop worrying to nourish my heart.
When will your wine be ready?
Let us lead each other into the land of intoxication .

Some things never change!
I have enjoyed this month being at home alone with my wine and the poetry; it was an upgrade from the day-to-day; rather like a first class carriage on a quite ordinary train. However I didn’t much enjoy the endless cooking and its attendant washing up. I look forward to getting out and about again.
London awaits!

Solitary Diner (Indoors)

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