This took place on Thrsday 24 November. It was a great shame that Wyn and Philip could not make it but the rest of the party enjoyed the day immensely. Thanks are due to John McCoy who guided the driver to the Maidstone
pickup point. To Gerald for deputising for Wyn, to Wyn for her usual faultless organisation, and, of course to Cathy for all the work she put in. I know Cathy was extremely anxious that it went well as it was her first attempt at this annual outing. The driver,
Steve, was good but failed, at least initially, to give proper return times and instructions. Upon passing through passport control at Folkestone we found ourselves in the departure lounge - but we hadn't been told the time for re-embarquation. Eventually,
with all aboard, Steve drove to a booth, showed his paperwork and was told to use a particular lane. This had a barrier at the end. It did not help matters when vehicles which arrived after
us were directed into a lane with no barrier. They, of course, managed to get on the waiting train while we gnashed our teeth and wondered why we were held up. Having arrived in plenty of time, it was particularly galling when the notice board flashed a message
that our train was now full and about to depart! However, half an hour later we were bound for France. At the destination, Steve, following his satnav, went through Coquelles and immediately into a traffic jam caused by roadworks! It all went well after that!
90 minutes at Auchan followed by an excellent and leisurely lunch at Le Blanc Nez. We left in time for our return train and got back to Blighty with no further shennanigans. All in all, it was an excellent and wholly enjoyable day. Thanks are due to all those
who made it possible.
Grape Varieties of the World
Dolcetto grown in the Piedmont area of northwest Italy is a grape that produces a lovely red wine that is, most certainly, not to everyone's taste. The name translates as "little sweet one" but the wines are nearly always
bone dry. It is possible that the name derives from the hills where the vine is cultivated. The town of Dogliani lends its name to Dolcetto di Dogliani - perhaps the best known but by no means the only wine produced from this grape in this region. Australia
is home to the oldest current planting of Dolcetto, with vines dating back to the 1860s. However, in 1700, Barnabà Centurione sent the wine as a gift to Queen Anne. The wine can be tannic and fruity with only moderate levels of acidity. The wine is
noted for its black cherry and licorice flavours overlaid with prune and the characteristically bitter finish of almonds - certainly, as stated: not to everyone's taste! However, taste is a personal thing and, at their best, these wines are truly memorable.
Overall, Dolcetto is considered a light easy drinking red wine that goes well with pasta and pizza dishes. For those interested in the health benefits of red wine, it is to be noted that the grape skins contain high concentrations of anthocyanins - compounds
noted for their antioxidant behaviour.
Next Month's Competition (January)
Quarterly: dry red wine. Note: no WoE this month.
Next Month's Meeting (January)
For the first time, we will be running a members' favourite Christmas tipple evening. This was a suggestion put forward by the members in response to Cathy's questionnaire. Only one club member has, so far, offered
to present a tipple. This evening has been organised in response to your requests. If you have a favourite, and would like to share it with the club, please volunteer to any committee member. Naturally, the club will reimburse your
expenditure- but please let us know by December 25 so we can get it organised. Many thanks.
Tale Of A Budding Telepath
It all began in the terminal building. I needed a soft drink as I was feeling a little dehydrated. There were a couple of inviting looking vending machines containing elusive bottles of Coca-Cola. I felt
like the mythological figure Tantalus - made to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches; the fruit ever evading his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink. The offending machine gave prices - but no instructions for use! Gallantly, I stepped aside for a Scottish lady (actually, it was to peek and see how she managed it!). She, however,
was as baffled as I was. Eventually, upon working it out, she tried to pay - but the machine kept chucking the coins back at her. Not to be outsmarted, the lady then tried her contactless credit card. This also failed, so she left - in a bit of a huff. Emboldened,
(since now I knew exactly what to do) I went to the other machine and - guess what? It displayed a notice saying "out of order". Arghhh! Ah ha! Thought I, somewhere in this vast complex there has to be a human being selling soft drinks... I was right! Finding
a cold drinks cabinet in WH Smiths, I selected a Coke, went to pay for it and was confronted with an army of scanning machines which, helpfully, did not carry instructions for use! Well, I sought out the "assistance" of a creature from the abyssal plain...
Huge mistake! The hag wiped her forehead with a cold clammy hand to move the hair, or was it seaweed, away from her narrow eyes. "Where" I stammered "might I pay for this"? She hissed and directed me to the end of the row of machines. "There" she croaked "you
will find a desk". Truly terrified by now, I slunk to the desk - it was a shambolic huddle of various magazines and articles of stationery - but no human being! Trembling,
I ventured back to the creature who had, by now, assumed the size and menacing presence of an ancient dinosaur... "I'm sorry" I wailed "I don't see how to pay"! She snatched the bottle from my hand and proceeded to chant some infernal incantation over one
of the machines... "Give me £1.99!" she shrieked. As I did so, she screamed "it was obvious how to do it - and a child could have managed!". Now there's a lesson learned - brush up on your telepathy skills before venturing into the Channel Tunnel complex;
and don't seek the assistance of anything looking remotely organic... Machines are not only more helpful - they're also more polite!
Annual Dinner - 2017
Les has been busy and fixed this up for us on Thursday February 9 at West Kent College.
The menu is attached but Les has been unable to supply a drinks list yet as the college are changing their supplies. As soon as he has this (early in the new year) I will send it out as a supplement. Please fill in the tear-off and return it to Les. Thanks.
A Cossetted Weekend Away
The Sussex Federation of Winemakers have invited Tonbridge Winemakers to join them at their weekend seminar in Eastbourne. The details of this event are as follows:
10-12 February 2017
Afton Hotel Eastbourne
£130 per person including gratuities, accommodation and meals (2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches). Homemade wine in competition bottles can be brought along
Talk on Friday evening, seminars on Saturday followed by a dance* in the evening, 2 commercial wine tastings and a talk on Sunday morning, plus a judge your own liqueur competition.
A £25 deposit per person is required to secure your booking with the balance being paid by 16 January 2016. Please contact me for a booking form if you are interested in attending this event.
* Dress code smart casual
Come in Proscecco - Your Time Is Up
The Sunday Times (18 December) reported that France has responded to the Prosecco bubble (geddit?) with a lightly effervescent Cremant de Loire that retails in Sainsbury's for £9.00 a bottle. It is,
apparently, flying off the shelves and the store claims it will sell 40% more than it had initially allowed for. While Prosecco remains popular, critics have complained that high demand has affected quality and created shortages. Will Lyons, the Sunday Times
wine critic, has argued that knowledgeable people have been quietly sipping Cremant for years. Cremant is a term meaning any French wine, produced in the same way as Champagne, but outside of that region. Sales of sparkling wine in Britain are estimated to
be up from 17.6 million gallons in 2011 to 31.6 million gallons this year. It would appear that the proximity of Christmas is having a huge effect on sales.
Obtreperous Old Geezer
Some interesting facts about Iceland. Until WW2 it was the poorest country in Europe. In the years following WW2 it has become, per capita, one of the richest countries in the world. Since Viking times it has been
populated by farmers - not, surprisingly, by fishermen. In fact, the fishing fleet only really came into existence in the nineteenth century. In times of horrendous poverty, people turn to drink. Iceland had an enormous drink problem. So much so that the populace decided a self-imposed prohibition on the sale and consumption of alcohol was preferable to being beaten up and vomited over by drunks. However, the Spanish objected so fiercely about the Icelanders no
longer taking their wine in exchange for Icelandic produce that the Icelanders gave in and allowed wine to be consumed again. This relaxation gradually led to spirits being consumed once more. However, and mightily strangely, beer was still prohibited! Icelanders
are, however, a clever lot. They simply bought a non-alcoholic beer and fortified it with a shot of (legal) vodka! Iceland is a young country: it is only about 25 million years old. Formed at the junction of the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian
plate it rose from the seabed and is still extremely volcanic - as testified when Eyafjallajökull (pronounced Ay-uh-fyat-luh-yoe-kuutl-uh) erupted in 2010 and grounded the entire European airline industry when volcanic ash was ingested into the engines.
Now, this old geezer, called Strokkur, blows his top regularly at 5 minute intervals. Otherwise, he is a fine and gentle soul (for a geyser).