February Newsletter


Angela Johnson, from Majestic Wines in Tunbridge Wells, introduced us to a selection of the store’s “bestselling, but more interesting wines”. Many myths were destroyed, such as chardonnay being a heavy, oaky wine and a rosé being off-dry to sweet, whereas it can be a most pleasant dry and yet fruity wine. The vinho verde was a flavoursome wine and a perfect summer afternoon drink at only 9.5% vol. The reds were good too, particularly the grenache and shiraz. I must admit that I did have slight reservations about the Bodegas Aroa Le Naturel. It was made without the use of sulphites, just fermented grape juice. An interesting concept, but I fear I am a bit of a traditionalist. 

Angela was a marvellous speaker with a warm and friendly manner, whose enthusiasm and knowledge of wines was clearly apparent.  In summary the 7 wines we tasted are listed below.

  1. Varzea Vinho Verde – Portugal, 2018, 9.5%, £7.99 or £6.99 mix six.
  2. Austrian Hills Chardonnay – Austria, 2018, 13%, £11.99 or £7.99 mix six.
  3. Abbotts & Delaunay Viognier – France, 2018, 13%, £9.99 or £7.99 mix six.
  4. Poste Restante Tempranillo – Spain, 2018, 12.5%, £9.99 or £7.99 mix six.
  5. Valsordo Old Vine Grenache, Spain, 2018, 14.5%, £13.99 or £9.99 mix six.
  6. Bodegas Aroa Le Naturel – Spain, 2019, 14%, £11.99 or £9.99 mix six.
  7. Aussimento Shiraz – Australia, 2018, 14.5%, £11.99 or £9.99 mix six.

The evening was concluded with a wine quiz.

NB: Four bottles of these fabulous wines will be raffle

         prizes next month.

(More about Majestic on page 2.)


 Wine of the Evening

Dry1st Tom Rix, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Cathy Rishman

Sweet: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Tom Rix, 3rd Les Maskrey

Judges: Madge Cooper and Bert Scott


After a 3-year absence we will be holding another Poems and Pints evening. At the helm will be our ever-popular Master of Ceremonies, Gerald Priestley. I am sure Gerald would really appreciate it if you could let him know beforehand if you would like to read a poem, so that he can prepare the order for the evening. Of course, all poems brought along on the night would be equally welcome. Supplies of beer and perry will be flowing at this event, but if you don’t want to drink from a wine glass, please bring your own tankard or beer glass.


WoE (dry and sweet classes)


The Annual Dinner will be held on Friday 24 April, at a cost of £32 per head.  The menu for your selections is attached. Please return the tear-off section and cheque to Les by 31 March; this allows the hotel to know the exact number for which they are catering. The wine list will be distributed with the next newsletter. Please let Les know your choice of wine so the hotel is aware of the number of bottles they need to reserve. The wine is paid for on the night and is not included in the cost for the dinner.


Please find attached the nomination form for our new committee. This form needs to be returned to me by the first week in March please. Don't forget: if you wish to nominate someone - get their permission first! We are particularly looking for someone to join the committee as competitions secretary - if we want monthly competitions to continue.


Adding cherries makes an interesting twist to these popular small cakes. Frozen, tinned (425g) or dried (125g) cherries can be used in place of fresh ones.

Chocolate and Cherry Brownies, Sainsburys


100g smooth dark chocolate, chopped

100g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

200g light soft brown sugar

2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

100g plain flour

150g fresh cherries, pitted and halved

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line an 18cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water for 5 minutes until melted. Remove and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk until light and pale. Gradually beat in the eggs, then add the flour and melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold in the cherries and pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the tin before turning out and cutting into 16 squares. 



An Italian Wine Tasting at Majestic

29 February 16:00 - 18:00 hrs, £10

319-323 St Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells  TN4 9XE

Angela will be running a tasting event in conjunction with their Italian Wine Week. Each ticket becomes a £10 voucher on a £40 spend on anything in store. Sounds an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon, also there is a bus stop nearby!  


Beer is now the House of Commons’ Favourite Tipple

Daily Telegraph: For many years MP’s have been ordering wine and champagne in preference to beer in the House of Commons’ bars and restaurants, but in recent years beer and lager has increased in popularity. Between 2015/16 £1.7 million was spent on wines with only £53,000 on beers and lagers in their 11 bars. However, between September 2017 and October 2019 a total of £356,133 was spent on beer and lager, while white wine came a close second with a £338,414 spend. Admittedly a combination of reds, whites and champagne/sparkling wines amounted to £709,124 and exceeded that of beers and lagers. A spokesman for the House of Commons reported that the total spend on alcohol during these years was £1,206,240, a significant decline on the previous period. Last year the Commons pledged to introduce more low-alcohol and alcohol-free options in an attempt to reduce the drinking culture at the Palace of Westminster. These changes are partly due to a shift in culture as a result of Dame Laura Cox’s report on bullying and harassment. Interestingly alcohol has been on sale in parliament since 1773.

French Reds to change with Climate Change

Daily Telegraph: In the September 2019 newsletter I reported on Britain producing better sparkling wines than the Champagne region as the weather there is becoming too hot. Following on from this hypothesis, scientists believe that the distinctive tastes of wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux are likely to be lost forever due to climate change. A study predicts that winegrowers will have to abandon the grape varieties that they have used for centuries to produce wines with similar characteristics. The dry, delicate flavours of pinot noir used for red burgundies may be replaced by the more full-bodied syrah or spicy grenache. Winegrowers in the Bordeaux region could replace their rich and complex blends of cabernet sauvignon and merlot with a more meaty mourvèdre. Scientists at the University of British Columbia believe that if the climate warmed by 2 degrees, in line with current trends, more than half the world’s wine growing regions will be lost by the end of the century.


Remember the talk on Edith Cavell in October 2018? Geoff and I have finally tracked down the statute, which is in St Martin’s Place, just off Trafalgar Square.

The committee are busily preparing another interesting programme for 2020-21.

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Latest comments

02.01 | 17:16

Thank you for contacting our website. I will see if any of our members are interested in your offer. Whereabouts are you located?

02.01 | 17:00

I have 8 clear glass demijohns if anyone wants them.

07.09 | 09:09

would the lady in hildenborough supply me with a demijon i live in hilden borough

02.09 | 11:53

Hi Linda - Thank you for your kind offer. I have contacted our members and will let you know if anyone is interested. Best wishes, Cathy Rishman

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