March 2019

March Meeting

Tom Rix gave a super, all embracing talk on winemaking which included old recipe books, anecdotes, tips, a demonstration and tastings.

Firstly, Tom told us that it was his uncle who introduced him to the delights of winemaking in 1971. Tom then demonstrated how easy it is to make a gallon of English style grape wine. He simply emptied cartons of grape juice and some elderflower cordial into a demijohn which already contained a pre-prepared syrup solution. Chemicals were then added and the mixture shaken.  After 24 hours, Tom informed us, the yeast would be added and this wine would be ready for entering into the Jock Franklin cup competition in June. Oh, so easy!

The next stage of the presentation were the tastings. Tom’s excellent winemaking skills were clearly displayed in the first 4 wines that we tasted, which were an English style grape, orange, redcurrant and fresh elderberry. All these wines had been made between 2016 to 2018 and ranged from dry to medium sweet. Tom then gave us 5 vintage wines to sample, made between 1971 to 1977. They were an interesting collection that, despite their age, were still quite drinkable. They had lost their original characteristics, but had taken on sherry-like qualities, which turned them into acceptable aperitifs. 

Tom’s relaxed approach and spontaneous sense of humour made this a most enjoyable evening.


Wine of the Evening

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

Sweet: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Bob Dye, 3rd Les Maskrey

Judges: Wyn Priestley and Bob Dye

Next Month's Meeting - April

Our AGM will take place on Thursday 4 April. The agenda, accounts and minutes of the 2018 AGM are attached with this newsletter Don't forget - there is no charge for this meeting, but please bring along your own drinks. Raffle donations would also be most welcome in order to hold a bumper raffle afterwards.

Next Month's Competitions - April


Annual Dinner 2019

Just a reminder! Les Maskrey needs to have your menu choices and cheque by 31 March. Please also let Les know your choice of wine from the attached wine list.


We are still desperately looking for a competitions’ secretary, as without one our competitions would have to be seriously curtailed. Please let me know asap if you could take on this job and join our friendly committee, where we discuss the running of the club over a glass or two of wine with nibbles, followed by bread and cheeses after committee business.


This event will be held on 6 April at St Philip's Church. Entries accepted from 9-10 am on the day of the show.

Classes: dry red and white; sweet red and white wines.    



This month’s recipe uses a fairly large quantity of dried peaches, but makes a good full-bodied sweet wine.

Peach Wine using Dried Peaches

2 lbs dried peaches

Up to 3½ lbs sugar

Water to 1 gallon

1 teasp pectolase

Yeast – preferably a high alcohol yeast

Yeast Nutrient

Campden tablet


Soak the peaches with the pectolase for 12 hours in cold water and then put into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes. Strain the liquid into a plastic container and add 2 lb sugar. Allow to cool to about 70°F and then add the yeast nutrient and yeast. Cover the container and keep between 70-75°F for 4 days, stirring daily. Transfer to a demijohn. After approx 5 days when the initial ferment has subsided pour ½ pt of boiling water over ½ lb of sugar, stir to dissolve. Leave to cool. Add to the must. When fermentation subsides again add another ½ lb of sugar dissolved in ½ pt of boiling water. After fermentation is complete rack and add a Campden tablet and fine.



Two Evening Events at West Kent College

Thursday 28 March – A Fish Night in association with Billingsgate Fish Market: A fish dinner in the Artisan Restaurant at the college. The menu contains some scrumptious dishes such as prawn risotto with crispy tempora prawns or smoked mussel and white fish veloute for starters and hake provencale with straw potatoes or pan fried salmon with citrus and dill potato roses for mains.  Desserts look good too. The college says, “you will not find fresher fish dishes”! Price: £20. 

Thursday 11 April An Evening with Biddenden Vineyards: A presentation and wine tasting from one of our local vineyards in the Artisan Restaurant.  This will be followed with a five course dinner. Price: £20. 


Pairing Food with Wine is a Pseudo-Science

Daily Mail: Master of Wine, Tim Hanni, considers eating a beef steak accompanied by a glass of white wine is quite acceptable. The American wine expert believes there should be an overhaul of traditional pairings, which he calls a pseudo-science. At a wine festival in New Zealand he said “A perfect wine pairing doesn’t exist. We’re doing a lot of damage the way we are matching wine and categorising it. We need to stop wine and food pairing. We need to celebrate the diversity of consumers, not make them feel stupid. You can serve sauvignon blanc with steak – why not? We need to get over the notion that food and wine grew up together. Food and wine pairing is pseudo-science, full of metaphors and misunderstandings.”

Yes, I would drink to that as Geoff and I frequently drink red wine with fish.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)

Sir Ian Botham the Winemaker

Waitrose Weekend: Although Sir Ian Botham is commonly known as a successful cricketer, he has also become a successful winemaker. In recent years he has gained a growing reputation for his New World wines, four of which are available at Waitrose. The collection includes a Chardonnay and two Cabernet Sauvignons made with grapes from a selection of his favourite Australian vineyards in the regions of Coonawarra and Margaret River.

Botham’s interest in wine began over 40 years ago through the cricket commentator, John Arlott. His passion for wine continued to grow while touring with cricketer and commentator, John Willis and in 2001 they released their first wine under the Botham Merrill Willis label.

Sir Ian says that he has “spent months personally sourcing and blending each wine. What people don’t know is that I’ve been dabbling in the industry for many, many years and I haven’t played professional cricket since 1993. So in this respect I’m no longer Ian Botham the cricketer, I’m Ian Botham the winemaker.”

Again, like Tim Hanni in the previous article, Sir Ian believes traditional food and wine pairing rules ought to be abandoned and people should do as they please.

(Article kindly supplied by Jan Powis)

Flat-Pack “Green” Wine Bottles

Daily Mail: When wine wholesaler, Santiago Navarro, set up Garcon Wines in 2016 he wanted to find a method of posting the wine in environmentally friendly compact packs which could fit through a letterbox, be lighter than glass and attractive enough to bring to the table. A company in Suffolk have provided the solution with flat plastic bottles manufactured from pellets produced by the household recycling system and then dyed green. These bottles are again recyclable after use. Apparently one plastic bottle can be recycled 20 times before matching carbon emissions generated by the production of one bottle made from glass. Also, there is an immense saving on transportation volume and weight. A bottle was sent to Sir David Attenborough who approved the venture and appreciated being sent “a generously filled wine bottle”.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)

A tonic regardless of the outcome of Brexit

Daily Telegraph: After 4 years of uncertainty the European Commission are allowing us to keep the name of “tonic” in gin and tonic. They have ruled that it can be classed as a “generic descriptor”, meaning that in general people do not link the true meaning of the word with the implication in its name. Therefore, whether we leave or remain our G&T’s are safe.


We found the beer!

I am pleased to report that while on holiday Geoff and I sampled beer from the Oslo Brewing Company in a bar next door to our hotel.  It is a truly excellent beer well worth the trip to Oslo or Fuggles Beer Café, Tonbridge!

Write a new comment: (Click here)
Characters left: 160
DONE Sending...
See all comments

| Reply

Latest comments

13.03 | 12:56

anyone interested in 4x 50 litre wine carboys. I stopped making wine about 15 years ago. open to offers.

16.01 | 20:27

Same you only allow 160 caricatures on your site I would like to wright more !!!

16.01 | 15:40

Thank you for your kind comments. You are more than welcome to join us at one of our meetings - the first Thursday of each month.

16.01 | 15:26

Hi There I have just come across your website ...and very impressed, you seem to be a well organised club with monthly events and good membership BRAVO

You liked this page