Vinyards in Nashik

India, the new frontier of wine

Master of Wine Liam Steevenson has spent two years exploring India’s emerging wine industry. Here he reports on the region’s growing thirst for wine and the producers crafting high quality cuvées from its own vineyards.

It doesn’t matter how many books you have read, films you have watched, or accounts you have listened to – a visit to India is one of the most personal experiences that a person can have.

India’s reputation for colour is much more than simply visual; it assaults every sense. As something of an experience obsessive, it comes as no surprise that India has drawn me back, time and time again.

A growing thirst for wine

With its rapidly growing middle class – and a younger generation that is turning away from the darker spirits their parents enjoyed – India is a market that the wine world is watching closely.

Taxation and a statute of law built around prohibition, mean that wine imports are curtailed in India, but only in the short term. This is a market with a fascinating future and – within a shrinking global market – one that every producing county should be paying close attention to.

In the meantime, this enforced limit on imported goods has created an opportunity for local growers – India is producing wine and producing it well.

Winemaking in India

The vineyards of India are centred around the town of Nashik, close to Mumbai. There are producers elsewhere, but this is is where the volume is, and arguably the quality too.

Climatically it is tricky; the region is by definition too hot, humid and most importantly non-seasonal.  This semi-tropical condition allows for no winter dormancy in the vine and harvest happens twice a year, though – swamped by monsoon – the summer harvest yields no wine.

Vineyard workers

Financially well-resourced, the cellars are impressive. Modern equipment fills the best wineries and every technical advancement is employed to temper grapes that come from vineyards wild and warm.

The vineyards are undoubtably where difficulties lie; plant viruses are rife and the heat of the sun ripens grape sugars faster than it can phenolics. Despite these key issues, the end result can be good and in some cases – really good.

Sparkling wines

Sparkling wine is where India has built its best reputation for quality, helped by Moet et Chandon, who invested heavily in the region a decade ago and now make world class fizz under the Chandon label.

Watching all of this closely was YORK Winery, who – in my opinion – now make the best sparkling wine in India, and at a quality that I would happily buy from anywhere in the world.

We are delighted to have sourced a parcel of YORK Sparkling Cuvée for Borough Wines & Beers. Produced from Chenin Blanc grown in some of the coolest parts of Nashik, it retains high levels of natural acidity and aromatic complexity. Traditionally fermented, it is honestly world class and a bargain at this price.

Master of Wine Liam Steevenson is a wine consultant and educator.

The Chiswick Twist

Free cocktails (yes, really!) at Borough Wines & Beers Turnham Green

This weekend we’re celebrating the first anniversary of our Chiswick store, by getting a (rather large!) round in for the locals. Stop by the shop on Turnham Green Terrace after 12pm Friday 17 August Sunday 19 August and enjoy a glass of ‘Chiswick Twist‘ on us. Party hat optional (but very much encouraged).

The Chiswick Twist

Created with a little help from our W4 neighbours Sipsmith, the cocktail combines the West London distillery’s flagship London Dry Gin, with citrus notes from Pococello, a touch of fiery ginger spice from Pimento and a twist of fresh lime. It’s a spicy, citrus-sy, ginger-y, glass of goodness.

The Chiswick Twist
The Chiswick Twist

Take a sip while you browse the shelves, or pull up a stool in the bar or downstairs tasting room. There’s no purchase necessary, though there are some standard T&Cs (ie. we might be one year old, but you’ve got to be at least 18!). Scroll down for details.

Borough Wines & Beers Turnham Green
Borough Wines & Beers Turnham Green
The tasting room
The tasting room

The ‘Chiswick Twist’ cocktail is available from Friday 17 – Sunday 19 August during shop opening hours. It’s one free cocktail per person, per day, while stocks last. The cocktail must be consumed on the premises. Cocktails will be served to people aged 18 and over only and proof of age may be required.

Borough Wines & Beers
51 Turnham Green Terrace
London
W4 1RP
MAP

OPENING TIMES
Monday–Wednesday: 11am–9pm
Thursday: 11am–10pm
Friday–Saturday: 10am–10pm
Sunday: 11am–8pm

Borough Wines Battersea

Free cocktail fortnight at Borough Wines & Beers Battersea

It has been twelve (and a bit) months since we opened our Battersea shop and we wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone for the local love we have received in that time. So – for the next two weeks, first drinks are on us – it’s free cocktail fortnight.

From today until Friday 29 June, stop by the Battersea Park Road shop for a browse between 6-7pm and you can enjoy a glass of our *exceedingly good* Battersea Bakewell cocktail on the house.

Battersea Bakewell

Inspired by the flavours of our favourite dessert, the Battersea Bakewell is made using the East London Liquor Co. London Dry Gin (for our money, the best all-rounder), plus Maraschino and Amaretto for that classic flavour combination.

Sip while you shop or get comfy in the bar area. No purchase necessary, but there are a couple of T&Cs (scroll down for details).

Party hats and presents optional, but very much encouraged.

FIND US
Borough Wines & Beers Battersea Park (MAP)
513 Battersea Park Road
London
SW11 3BN
Phone: 020 7450 7877
Email: batterseapark@boroughwines.co.uk
Twitter: @boroughwines_bp

T&Cs: The ‘Battersea Bakewell’ cocktail is available from Monday 18 June – Friday 29 June, 6-7pm. It’s one free ‘Battersea Bakewell’ cocktail per person, per night while stocks last. The cocktail must be consumed on the premises. Cocktails will be served to people aged 18 and over only and proof of age may be required.

Court Garden, Sussex

Red and white (and blue) – the rise of English wine

Ahead of English Wine Week 2018 (May 26 – June 3), we look at the burgeoning business of home grown bottles and get the insider view from Court Garden’s Hugo Corney.

English wine is not new – evidence suggests that it was the Romans who introduced vines to these shores. It is only in the last sixty years however, that the true potential of English wine has been realised, both in terms of quality and value.

Today, English and Welsh wine is a growing concern, with interest and investment in the industry at an all-time high. One million grape vines were planted in the UK in 2017 alone – the largest number planted in a single year.

English Wine production in numbers

According to industry body WineGB, there are 502 commercial vineyards in the UK. Together, these vineyards cover 2000 hectares and in 2016, produced 4.15million bottles of English wine. In 2020, the figure is set to be closer to 10 million.

Hugo Corney in the Court Garden winery
Hugo Corney in the Court Garden winery

The producer view – Hugo Corney, Court Garden

Originally a sheep farm – as referenced by the ovine neck label on its Classic Cuvée bottle – Hugo’s parents Howard and Jenny Corney planted the first vineyard on their Sussex farm in 2005 “to hedge against the peaks and troughs of livestock farming”.

Court Garden is now an award-winning wine producer, making both still and sparkling styles from red and white grapes. There are fewer sheep these days, though they can still be found grazing amongst the vines in the winter.

Howard and Jenny Corney on the Court Garden vineyard
Howard and Jenny Corney on the Court Garden vineyard

Located just 50 miles south of London and 10 miles north of Brighton, Court Garden is situated in the South Downs National Park. With its sunny aspect, rolling hills and Champagne-like chalky soils, it’s a key English viticulture area.

“Our winery is only 100 metres from the vineyards”, says Hugo, “and this enables us to press the grapes as soon as they are hand-picked and to capture the true flavours and aromas from the Court Garden vineyards.”

As any keen gardener will be aware, the great British weather can play havoc with even the hardiest of perennials. For those in the business of grape growing however, it can spell disaster.

“Our production volumes vary as a result of only using our own grapes and the weather plays a very influential role in determining the yield for the year.  Our volumes are on average 25,000-30,000 bottles but have ranged from 2,000-40,000 bottles.”

Good grapes

Sparkling wine accounts for 66% of English wine production, but interest in home-grown still wine is growing. While the former is very much inspired by the techniques and traditions of Champagne, there is no such direct comparison for the latter.

Without a centuries-old formal tradition to guide producers in terms of the techniques and grape varieties best suited to their situation, many have ventured beyond the familiar grape varieties in search of others more suited to our climate. Yes, you will find English grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but you’ll also find the improbably-named Madeleine Angevine and Huxelrebe.

The Court Garden vineyards
The Court Garden vineyards

Alongside the familiar Champagne varieties grown at Court Garden (Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir), the Germanic (but rather Game of Thrones-sounding) Dornfelder grape has proved very successful and can be found in the estate’s Ditchling Red.

“Both [Pinot Noir and Dornfelder] grow successfully in northern Europe”, says Hugo, “they require less sunshine temperatures than more familiar higher alcohol and higher tannin reds.”

“With low tannins and light alcohol (10-11% ABV), the Dornfelder is ideal served chilled alongside summer alfresco meals.”

What’s next for English wine?

With production predicted to double by 2020 and new wineries opening all the time, is there a risk that English wine production will outstrip demand? Not if the growing interest from external markets continues, reasons Hugo.

“The market will decide on the appetite for more English wine and as knowledge of English wine spreads, as too could demand.”

If English wine’s potential comes down to the quality of the products being made, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. English wine has long enjoyed critical acclaim and can count numerous high profile awards among its accolades.

“At Court Garden we endeavour to make the highest quality wines we can. The national and international awards we have received to date gives a nice endorsement that we are on the right track.”

Why not try Hugo’s wine for yourself – during English Wine Week, you can buy two Court Garden wines for £35 (usual price £39/£40). Explore the wider English wine range, featuring Nyetimber, Coates & Seeley and Bolney Estate.

Zijun Meng and Ana Goncalves from TĀ TĀ EATERY

Tuck into TĀ TĀ at Borough Wines & Beers Kensal Rise

We are hugely excited to announce that Ana Goncalves and Zijun Meng from TĀ TĀ EATERY are taking over the kitchens at Borough Wines & Beers Kensal Rise for a three-month residency.

From Thursday 10 May, you’ll be able to enjoy TĀ TĀ EATERY’s excellent modern Asian dishes for dinner (Thurs – Sat) and brunches (Sat – Sun) under the bottle shelves.

UPDATE 22/06 – By popular demand, TĀ TĀ EATERY will now open on Wednesdays too, until the end of the residency. The full hours are – Wednesday – Saturday 6.30pm-10pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm – 3pm.

TĀ TĀ EATERY

Husband and wife team Meng and Ana met under chef Nuno Mendes and credit a shared love of rice as the catalyst for the creation of TĀ TĀ EATERY.

The name is inspired by the Mandarin words for “he” and “she” and appropriately their menus look both east and west for inspiration, with a nod to the culinary traditions of their native China and Portugal.

Their dishes are typically Modern Asian in style, but incorporating European ingredients and techniques, all cooked with a flair and precision befitting their top-class restaurant training.

The project began as a street food stall on London’s Druid St. Market, before a series of critically-acclaimed pop-ups at the Newman Arms and Kitchen Table, followed by a year-long stint at Haggerston café Curio Cabal.

 

Kensal Rise, meet the Katsu Sandwich

TATA EATERY Katsu Sandwich
THAT Katsu Sandwich

The izakaya-style menu served at BW Kensal Rise will revolve around small plates and sharing platters.

Dishes will include Meng and Ana’s characteristically playful take on ngiri and tacos, as well as cult-favourite, the Katsu Sandwich – a toast sandwich of deep-fried, slow-cooked Iberico pork neck and Asian slaw.

The handmade Toasted Rice Cream – which has been a popular feature on previous TĀ TĀ menus – will also be on offer, accompanied by changing seasonal toppings of berries and flower blossom.

TATA EATERY Toasted Rice Cream
Toasted Rice Cream

To drink

There will be a changing menu of wines chosen to complement the dishes (available by the glass, carafe and bottle), specially selected craft beers and soft drinks.

Cocktail serves inspired by the food menu will also be available, devised by Geyan Surendran, Distiller in Chief at Surendran and Bownes.

Borough Wines Gibson

What would be the fun of dining in a wine shop if you couldn’t go a little off-piste though, right? Drink anything off the shelves (or out of the fridge) and just pay the retail price, plus corkage (£8 per bottle for wines and £1 for beer).

The TATA EATERY residency is at Borough Wines & Beers, 30 Station Terrace, Kensal Rise, London, NW10 5RP. Bookings for groups of six or more can be made by email (info@tataeatery.co.uk)

Tête À Tête on Alcohol

Tête À Tête – a new tasting and talking series

You pop in to the shop for a quick Picpoul and – an hour later – you’re still there, sipping something you just had to try and discussing the merits of the Corsican native grape varieties or the most successful wine pairing for Twiglets… Sound familiar? What can we say; we don’t just like to drink the stuff, we like to have a good old natter about it too.

We believe that wine is about sharing and socialising, as much as it is about sipping, and what’s more – that everyone has got something interesting to add to the conversation. That’s the inspiration behind Tête À Tête, our new tasting series, where ideas play (almost) as important a role as imbibing.

The first Tête À Tête event is taking place on Thursday 22 March at The Old Cinema, Chiswick, with Master of Wine Liam Steevenson and celebrated drinks writer and Guardian columnist Fiona Beckett leading the conversation.

The topic up for discussion is ‘Alcohol’; its role in shaping the character of the wine we drink and – with a third of us now claiming to be drinking less than we were 12 months ago – if our attitude to alcohol is changing.

We can’t know the exact format the event will take, as the evening will be shaped by the thoughts and feedback of attendees on the night. We can make one guarantee though – there will be lots to sip and plenty to say.

Join the conversation – tickets are just £10 and available to buy online here and in the Borough Wine & Beers shops.

Thank you Nicholas Hughes for the wonderful Tête À Tête illustrations. See more of his work here.

Whistler – pushing boundaries in Barossa

There’s much more to Australia’s Barossa Valley than big name wineries, hefty reds and heftier price tags. Don’t believe us? You can go Whistler.

Winemaker Josh Pfeiffer is Barossa born-and-raised; he grew up surrounded by vines, as son and grandson of grape-growers for the aforementioned big-name estates. On graduating university (oenology), he honed his craft in wineries across the region and in neighbouring Eden Valley, before setting his sights on the family patch and establishing Whistler.

Given his pedigree, it is unsurprising that Pfeiffer seems so at ease making wines in this landscape; what is more surprising is the style of the wines he is choosing to make. Characterised by a lightness of touch and playfulness, his wines are elegant, experimental and eminently drinkable.

The Whistler wines are also natural, that is – made following a philosophy of minimal intervention, with restrained use of sulphites and no additives or enhancers to affect texture or flavour.

Working organically since 2013 and biodynamically since 2017, you could say that the Whistler wines are as true an expression of Barossa as the man behind them.

We were introduced to Whistler by our Essex Road shop manager (and fellow Adelaide native) Jeremy and after an overwhelming response in the subsequent team tasting, made it our mission to bring the bottles to the UK.

To celebrate them finally landing on the shelves (and just in time for Australia Day too!), Jeremy got back in touch with Josh to find out a little more about Whistler, his wine making style and the joys of joining the family business.

Josh Pfieffer

Where is your winery based and how does the landscape and conditions there affect grape growth and wine production?

Whistler is situated at 241 Seppeltsfield Road, Stone Well, which is on the western edge of the Barossa Valley floor. As you drive towards Whistler, you step up out of the Valley floor and into the Western Ridge of the Barossa. Our soils are a lot more complex and shallow than the valley floor, and as a result, we get more complex flavours within a block of vines, and lighter canopies, which means lower disease pressure. This makes our site ideal for Organic and Biodynamic practices.

What makes Barossa Valley wines special?

The Barossa is a ideal environment for growing grapes- our climate and soils are well suited to grape growing, and the resulting wines are generally high quality.

Whistler vines in Barossa
Whistler vines in Barossa

Do you find that people have preconceptions about Barossa Valley wines?

Some people who have tried a lot of wine from Australia or the Barossa Valley generally have a picture in their head of what our wines might look like, and they are generally surprised how light and easy-drinking our wines are compared to other wines that they have tried.

Do you consider yourself part of the ‘New Wave’ of Australian wines?

I guess so; particularly the New Wave of Barossa wines. The Barossa is made up of some pretty big players in the Australian wine industry, it has only really been in the last 5 years or so that smaller producers have started pushing the boundaries with Barossa wines.

What drove you to become a winemaker?

I grew up living on a 700 acre Penfolds vineyard, as my father, Martin Pfeiffer, managed Penfolds company vineyards around Australia for 28 years before starting up Whistler in 1999. I am the fourth generation in my family to grow grapes, but the first in my family to make wine. Dad usually had us out in the vineyards working during our school holidays, so I never really enjoyed the wine side of things until I hit my late 20’s and started understanding the importance of getting it right in the vineyard. I decided to study wine making at University as a way of being involved in the wine industry, but not working in a vineyard initially.

Where do you stand on the debate of sulphites in wine?

I use sulphur as a preservative in all of my wines apart from one, our new 2017 ‘Back To Basics’ Orange Wine. I generally only add a small amount of sulphur – just after fermentation has finished, to preserve the wine through the bottling process. I think it’s best to make a sound wine and if that means adding a bit of sulphur, I’m all for it. Having said that, it is exciting to see how clean and fruit-driven our new ‘Back To Basics’ is, even though I didn’t add a single thing to the wine. No yeast, no acid, no sulphur, no anything.

What has been the most challenging thing about moving to Organic/Biodynamic Viticulture?

To be completely honest, it has been a very easy transition for us due to our site. It definitely forces you to spend more time in the vineyard, which can only be a good thing. It does cost more to produce the same amount of wine, as you are spending a lot more time on the tractor, or pulling out weeds by hand.

Natural wines, are they just a fad or are they here to stay?

I think they are going to be increasing in popularity over the next decade or so, and they will only continue to get better, as winemakers learn how to manage wines without adding a whole heap of different chemicals. Who knows if they are here to stay… Most things go in cycles.

Whistler wines are now  available in the UK exclusively through Borough Wines and Borough Wines Imports. Find the What the Fronti white blend (£22), Shock Value red blend (£22) and Shiver Down My Spine Shiraz  (£30) from the Whistler Next Generation Range in the shops and online

Scoby doo – an introduction to kombucha with David Begg

Tangy, tasty and alcohol-free, kombucha has been a fixture on the US drinks scene for years, but remained relatively unknown here – the reserve of health shops and home-brewers. With top bars now using it in cocktails and excellent, ready-to-drink examples popping up in bottle shops (like ours), it looks like that could be about to change. Is 2018 the year the UK finally falls for fermented tea?

Deliciously dry and complex, without the sugar-crash that comes after drinking many soft drinks, kombucha is a solidly grown-up sip, and one of our recommendations for Dry JanuaryAs one of the fermented drinks we’re a little less au fait with here at BW, we called on the expertise of Real Kombucha founder and Master Brewer, David Begg to tell us more about it – how it’s made and what makes it so special.

Join David at one of our upcoming Introduction to Kombucha events where you’ll find out more and enjoy a tasting of the Real Kombucha range, alongside a specially-designed matching veggie menu.

Over to you David…

The ‘booch basics

Kombucha is a yeast and bacterial fermentation of sweet tea. The yeast consumes most of the initial sugars and converts them to alcohol, and the bacteria consumes the alcohol to create beneficial acids. Unlike vinegar, however, the acids produced are soft and delicate and just give a subtle bite and fizz.

Making kombucha

It’s actually really easy to make kombucha, and a whole lot of fun, but be careful as it can become a serious obsession (with a little bit of an addictive personality thrown in). All you need is a pot and a SCOBY.

SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s the culture used to ferment the tea and looks a bit like a round, flat piece of calamari. It is actually the cellulose that the bacteria create as an environment to live in; a bug hotel, so to speak.

Brew your favourite sweet tea, cool it to room temperature and drop in the culture. That’s all it takes.

Here’s a link to Real Kombucha’s Adrian Hodgson, explaining how to brew kombucha in more detail.

That characteristic kombucha taste

What does kombucha taste like?

It’s always hard  trying to describe a flavour. Most would liken kombucha to a slightly tart, delicate apple or pear cider, though it depends enormously on the tea you use.

For our Royal Flush we use a first flush Darjeeling tea which produces a kombucha with delicate sharpness over notes of gooseberry, rhubarb and peach. Pick up a bottle of our Smoke House though, and you will think you are drinking a light, smoky apple cider.

‘Booch health benefits

Most naturally sweetened soft drinks are between 7-12% sugar. That means that if you consume a 330ml bottle of the stuff, you are consuming up to 40g of sugar. The WHO currently suggests a maximum daily added sugar consumption of 24g, and they would like you to reduce this to 12g, so you would be consuming almost double the WHO recommendation in one bottle.

Real Kombucha has under 2g of sugar per 100ml, so only 6-7g per bottle. That is less than 50 calories compared to up to 300 for a single bottle of a soft drink. Your alternative is the artificial sweeteners that we are all getting rather concerned about. But even Real Kombucha is still 6g of sugar, so I would always advocate drinking more water than booch (although some of us are a little addicted – send help!)

While we are far more passionate about the flavour of kombucha than the health benefits, the magic booch also packs a bunch of other elements. It is a raw product with plenty of healthy probiotic bacteria. It also contains all the catechins and polyphenols that you find in a normal cup of tea, with their great antioxidant properties, and the acids produced in the fermentation are a great way to get the system going. We are learning a lot more about the benefits of fermented foods and I am sure we are going to be quite surprised by what we find.

You can click this link to read more about kombucha health benefits.

Different tea, different flavour

We currently produce three flavours, each one differentiated by the type of tea we use. We don’t see the point in flavouring kombucha when it can taste so good to begin with.

Dry Dragon – the delicate one

Dry Dragon (33cl, £2.50) is made from the pan-roasted Dragonwell green tea from China. Unlike Japanese green teas – which are steamed – Chinese green teas are roasted in a big wok, giving them flavours of hay rather than mown grass. This leads to a far more delicate flavour in a kombucha, with the fermentation also adding flavours of grapefruit and lemon.

I drink Dry Dragon every morning with eggs straight from our chickens. It is a great way to start the day, and it’s an easy drink for whenever you need a refreshment – particularly on a warm summer day.

Royal Flush – the aperitif

Royal Flush (33cl, £2.50) is brewed from first flush Darjeeling, which is known locally as the ‘Queen of Teas’. The first flush is picked by hand as the first tips of the plant emerge in the spring, leading to a richly fragrant tea. When brewed, it produces a kombucha that is fresh and floral with notes of rhubarb, gooseberry and vanilla but with subtle, astringent undertones. People often compare this drink to a kind of non-alcoholic Prosecco.

Royal Flush is the easiest to drink before or with food. It is really fantastic as an aperitif and works a treat anywhere you would otherwise drink Champagne, Prosecco or a white wine.

Smoke House – the beer-y one

Smoke House (33cl, £2.50) is much more robust. It is brewed from a high-grown black tea from the southwestern districts of the Yunnan province in Southern China. A brew with a warm, golden colour and a rich, smoky flavour, with apple and caramel undertones. On first sip, most would believe that Smoke House is a cider, albeit one with a more delicate, smoky twist.

At the end of a busy day at the brewhouse there is nothing like grabbing a cold Smoke House (or three) from the fridge and sharing them with the team.

If you’re interested, we’ve written this article on our blog about how to serve kombucha.

Using kombucha in cocktails

Real Kombucha Cocktail
G and Tea?

One of the great things about Real Kombucha is that it doesn’t come mixed with other flavourings, so you are free to mix and blend as you see fit. A Dry Dragon Mojito is fantastic, or you could mix a little cassis into a Royal Flush and you make a superb Kir Royal.

My favourite has to be a cocktail mixed by Yann at The Pig Hotel near Bath, called the Gardener’s Mistress:

  1. Take a tall tumbler, crush a little fresh ginger in the bottom.
  2. Add a small measure of fresh basil oil, followed by crushed ice.
  3. Fill to the brim with Real Kombucha Smoke House.
  4. Then top with some bruised mint and a twist of black pepper.You really have to try it to believe the subtle complexities of the flavours.

We keep a lot of kombucha cocktails on our blog, and we add to the list whenever someone sends us something interesting.

Drinking kombucha with food

I am a bit of a flavour obsessive and I am constantly experimenting with kombucha food pairings. Over  the New Year, a really foodie Italian friend of mine dispensed with the Sauternes and grabbed a bottle of Royal Flush to drink alongside his foie gras. Wow! What a success.

We have been selected by some of the greatest chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs exactly for this reason. Anything sweet, fruity or too bold in flavour overwhelms most foods, so restaurateurs have always struggled to find a soft drink that can pair as well with food as wine. As Real Kombucha is a simple fermentation with no flavouring – just like a wine or beer – it does the same job.

I would always suggest pairing Dry Dragon with fresh salads and alongside fruit, especially citrus and more acidic fruits. It is also great with lighter Asian foods.

Royal Flush is particularly good with white meats, fish and cream sauces. It also pairs well with subtle pasta dishes and it’s a great aperitif with smoked salmon, or charcuterie.

Smoke House is great with beef or other robust meats. It’s a perfect replacement for beer with a good British curry and works well alongside other spicy food too.

Much to my disappointment, we haven’t yet found a good combination with cheese. Pairing kombucha and cheese pretty much destroys both, so my advice is to steer well clear!

Real Kombucha is available now in the Borough Wines shops and online. David Begg will host two ‘Introduction to Kombucha’ events at our Essex Road (N1) shop on Wednesday 24 January 2018 and in Kensal Rise (NW10) on Thursday 25 January 2018. Tickets (£25) include a masterclass, demo, guided tasting and three course veggie food matching menu. Book here.

Dreaming of a Borough Wines Christmas

With just three sleeps left until the big day, we rounded up a few Borough Wines folk to ask how they plan to spend Christmas. What will they be doing, eating and – crucially – drinking on the 25th?

*Spoiler* Turns out we’re not really turkey people, but it’s fair to say we do take our festive tipples very seriously…

Read on for our festive ideas and drinking suggestions.

After more inspiration? Check out our Cocktail Recipes page for step-by-step guides to classic serves, including the Old Fashioned, Negroni and Espresso Martini.

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR & BEER BUYER MITCH

Mitch Adams

Where are you spending Christmas this year?

In Kentish Town with my wife’s Irish family.

What’s your ideal Christmas Dinner?

Roast rib of beef with all the trimmings! And at Christmas that means pigs in blankets AND Yorkshire puddings.

What’s your favourite Christmas drink?

I’ve infused my own gin with gingerbread this year and I’ll be making GINgerbread martini’s.

Any cocktail or drinks/food pairing tips?

It’s got to be a bottle of London Brewing Co. Samsons Riddle with your Christmas Pudding

What’s on your wishlist? 

Nothing, apart from time with my family.

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

To drink more Kombucha!

CAROLINE, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Where are you spending Christmas this year?

Christmas with my family oop north and then New Year’s Eve in Cornwall.

What’s your ideal Christmas Dinner?

For me, Christmas Dinner is but a warm-up act to the most important dish of the year – the Boxing Day mega sandwich. What I want to see on the table on the 25th is based entirely on what I want to eat between two slices of bread the next day – turkey, cold roast potatoes, stuffing, sausages, sprouts, root veg, sour pickles and cranberry sauce.

What’s your favourite Christmas drink?

Snowballs! Dry Sherry! Lambrusco! I have very 70s tastes…

Any cocktail or drinks/food pairing tips?

It will be La Battagliola, Lambrusco “Dosage 15” for the Christmas Eve buffet – it’s a dream with charcuterie and nibbles, is frothy, fizzy and red (aka Christmas in a glass) and comes with the requisite whiff of retro nostalgia.

On Christmas Day, I’ll probably try and convince everyone that  Black Velvets are a good idea and we’l relive the unfornate Egg Nog episode of Christmas ’16. Once everyone has had a sit down, it will be some serious Pinot Noir for the main event, perhaps the Maison Chanzy Maranges Rouge 2015.

In the evening, it will be Die Hard and whiskey sours.
Boxing Day will be for massive sandwiches, board games and beers.
What’s on your wishlist?
The The Nikka Coffey Grain please.
Any New Year’s Resolutions?
Drink more Sherry.

NATACHA, BATTERSEA RETAIL MANAGER

Natacha Jaume

Where are you spending Christmas this year?

At home in Battersea, my Dad is coming over from France.

What’s your ideal Christmas Dinner?

Pâté appetiser, grilled lobster, truffled Chateaubriand, finished off with a chocolate bûche glacée – a French ice cream cake rolled like a tree trunk – with plenty of decoration on it.

What’s your favourite Christmas drink?

Pommard, Montrachet, and Champagne Leclerc Briant Rose

Any cocktail or drinks/food pairing tips?

Tokaji with goose pâté is sublime!

What’s on your wishlist?

A Napa Valley and South Africa wine trip

Any New Year Resolutions?

Drink more water…

MATTEO, KENSAL RISE RETAIL MANAGER

Matteo Malquori

Where are you spending Christmas?

At home, my parents are coming over from Italy.

What is your ideal Christmas Dinner?

Just good food, good wine, and of course spending it with good friends.

What’s your favourite Christmas Drink?

Bubbles! The Leclerc Vintage is especially good

Any cocktail or drinks/food pairing tips?

On Christmas eve have a lovely Chenin Blanc with some seafood – scallops or polpo.

Our Saint Joseph is very good, and would be perfect with Peposo – a traditional Tuscan stewed beef dish

What’s on your wishlist?

A little bit of sun! And a good bottle of whiskey

Any New Year Resolutions?

To be healthier with my food

SAMPI, AREA MANAGER

Where are you spending Christmas?

In London – I would love to go somewhere else, North Finland or near the Lake Balkai but unfortunately I have to work

What’s your ideal Christmas dinner?

Pâté, salad, potatoes and venison, cheese, ice cream, and calvados

What’s your favourite Christmas drink?

Calvados of course

Any cocktail or wine/food pairings?

Margaux Soussan with venison or pheasant isn’t too bad

What’s on your wish list?

I would love peace in the world – but I’ll settle for a boat

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Ask me around 1pm during New Year’s day

Calvados 101

Calvados is a Christmas cracker that has fallen out of favour somewhat in recent years.

A perfect present, delicious after-dinner drink and cracking cocktail addition (not to mention an all-important ingredient in Aunt Alice’s Christmas puddings), yet often overlooked in favour of fancier French liqueurs. Enough is enough, we argue that Calvados’ time has come; read on – it’s Calvados 101…

What is Calvados?

Calvados is an apple brandy made exclusively in Normandy. There are two main names to remember – AOC Calvados and  AOC Calvados Pays d’Auge . The former encompasses the largest area of Normandy and accounts for 70% of the total Calvados production. The latter produces on a smaller scale and has much stricter production rules (double distillation is a minimum requirement) resulting in a higher quality spirit.

How is it made?

Calvados can be made from over 200 apple varieties. Once the chosen apples have been picked, they are pressed for their juices, which are then fermented into cider using native yeasts. Once this fermentation is complete, the cider is distilled using an alembic pot-still. At this stage it earns the name “eau de vie”, is tasted by the distiller and selected for aging.

Calvados is aged for a minimum of two years in either virgin or used Calvados oak barrels. Top tier Calvados usually ages for around 25+ years.

Like other blended spirits, the number stated on the bottle is the youngest age of the spirit involved, though distillers often add amounts of much older Calvados to achieve desired textures and flavours.

As Calvados ages the flavours deepen and develop. Over time, the fresh apple notes become cooked, spicy and more unctuous, while the mouthfeel becomes more luxuriant.

How do I drink Calvados?

Younger Calvados blends are perfect for cocktails; our favourite is the Pomme Pomme – a simple mix of Calvados, with a dash of bitters, topped off with champagne.

Older Calvados deserves to be drunk neat and is best served in a stemmed tulip glass at room temperature. This will enhance the aromas emanating from the glass. If you don’t have any tulip glasses handy, a port glass will suffice.

Calavdos also makes a delicious after-dinner tipple. Try pairing it with a chunk or two of rich dark chocolate, a good book and a comfortable chair.

Santé!