July 2017

The Lascaux Caves

On Thursday, 6 July, Dave Tester presented the most wonderful, entrancing and informative talk on these magnificent caves. The haunting images were done by early man: not Neanderthals (who Dave assured us did not appear to have developed any art form at all) but by our direct predessesor: Cro-Magnon man - undoubtedly a true homo sapiens. Dave used slides of these paintings to conjure up images of our ancestors painting on the cave walls. As a historian he felt compelled to speculate as to what they meant - why were they done at all? A real mystery is the condition of the caves; there remains not a single artefact that indicates any human habitation. Dave concluded that the caves were never dwelling places but private places where people gathered for the sole purpose of depicting these animals in such wonderful detail - and under the most gruelling circumstances. Remember, there was no artificial light - save the mournful flickering of a tallow candle... Dave asked if anyone agreed with him that the horse's head above was rather shorter than we might expect a horse's head to be. He speculated that the depiction might actually be of a now extinct horse, common in the pleistocenic ice age, but whose closest living relative, Przewalski's horse, just about manages to eke out a precarious existence on the Siberian Steppes. Dave pointed out that no image of a human being can be seen in any of these paintings. Then, suddenly, the whole audience began to find shapes and shadows that fitted (with a little imagination) the form and features of humanity. Were these real? We'll never know, but Dave's view is that the natural rock topography, and the pigments applied, might give a fortuitous (and unintentional) rendition of the human form.

Dave finished off with a wine tasting! We were treated to a walnut wine called "Quinqui Noix" - which all students of French Literature will tell you means "kinky nuts". Now there's a speculation as to what went on these caves! In summary, and judging from the audience participation, this was an excellent talk: delivered masterfully and one which begs the eternal question: will you please come back and address us again? You will find a highly appreciative and very grateful audience. Well done Dave!

That's The Spirit!

Pisco is a potent South American brandy. Both Peru and Chile

lay claim to it; indeed, when we were in Chile a couple of years ago, the locals were adamant that "Chile got there first" and that the Peruvian version was a fake... Utter nonsense of course: Chile and Peru were once part of the same South American viceroyalty in colonial times! When the conquistadores were demonstrating their humanity, noblesse and  altruism to the local indigenous peoples, they bought with them, from Spain, vines with which to make wine. Distillation of this wine produced a brandy -  just like brandy production back home. The name "pisco" might come from the Quechuan word "piscu" - a bird found in the Ica valley of Peru. Of equal possibility is that it is named after the town of Pisco: a port city in Peru. Chile also sports a town called Pisco - hence the rivalry... Pisco has a high alcoholic content: around 60 to 100 proof. Peruvian law forbids dilution of the spirit, but the Chilians allow it to be diluted with distilled water to ameliorate its alcoholic strength. There are four categories of pisco: Pisco puro made from black, non-aromatic grapes originating from Spain, Pisco aromatico from the more aromatic varieties of muscatel, Italia, albilla and torontel. Pisco acholado is made from a mixture of non-aromatic and aromatic varieties and, finally, Pisco mosto verde is made from partially fermented grapes. Pisco is, of course, famous as the special ingredient in Pisco Sour: a cocktail reputed to be the invention of a North American bartender, Victor Morris in 1920s Lima.  

And Little Treats To Accompany It

Pisco Sour.

50ml/1¾fl oz pisco (grape brandy), 50ml/1¾fl oz lime juice

25ml/1fl oz sugar syrup, 1 dash bitters, ½ free-range egg white

For the garnish:

1 cherry- stem attached, 1 lemon slice

Place all of the ingredients except the cherry and lemon slice into a cocktail shaker and shake.

Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a fresh cherry on the stem and a lemon slice.

Cola de Mono (Monkey's Tail)

Empty a tin of condensed milk into a saucepan then add 2½ cans of boiled water from a kettle. Slit a vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into it; add 3 cloves and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add three tablespoons of instant coffee and stir to dissolve. Strain and chill in the refrigerator. When you want to drink it, use half-a-glass of the mixture and as much pisco as you like. Cathy and I both agree - this is damn delicious!

(note: if you can't get true pisco, use brandy or rum).

Next Month's Meeting (August)

This year we host the Inter-Circle competition against Tunbridge Wells. The wine will be medium apricot, and there will be a quiz (courtesy of Les Bates) while the wine is being judged. Of course it is also our summer party evening! I know the weather leaves a lot to be desired... Presently, summer is hardly the best word used to describe it! We will, however, rise to the occasion and make it a memorable evening! Lin and Sylvia would like to remind everyone to bring refreshments along for the communal table. The club will supply bread and cheese. Philip, and the committee have also suggested this should be a free  evening - so - no charge!

French Trip 2017

Cathy has provided an update. She writes: payment of £25.00 (non-refundable deposit) or the full payment of £55.00 is being taken at the next meeting. See full details in the attachment. Menu choices and pick-up times will be circulated in the October newsletter. This will be another excellent day out - don't miss it! Thanks,


English Wine Continues To Sparkle

A bumper year in 2016 - now a £100 million industry. English wine continues its inexorable march to the top. Recent turnover is listed at £132 million - a 16% rise over 2015 values. Research shows that the burgeoning popularity of British alcohol production is not limited to wine. There is an equally resurgent market for gin and craft beer. Conrad Ford, founder of Funding Options, said: "The English wine industry is not only gaining traction among domestic consumers, but is now being ranked with wines from traditional white wine-producing countries such as France and Germany."

In May, Winibirri Vineyards of Norfolk was named the best white wine globally with their Bacchus 2015. This, at £13.95 a bottle, beat off 17,200 other entries to win the Platinum Best in Show award after being given 95/100 by a panel of 200 international experts.

Until now, it has been English sparkling wine grabbing the plaudits; however, still wines, produced from the Bacchus grape, are now demonstrating they can beat the world's best. Seemingly, the English climate is ideal for growing this variety, which is why it has become the favoured grape of the majority of UK vineyards. Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: "We believe Bacchus has the potential to do for English Wine production what Sauvignon Blanc did for New Zealand." He also said: "It comes as no surprise that an English Bacchus wine has won a major international award."

Competition Results


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

  • Medium: 1st Tom Rix; 2nd Bob Dye; 3rd Cathy Rishman

  • Sweet: 1st Cathy Rishman; 2nd Les Maskrey; 3rd Bob Dye

    Apricot (medium) for the Inter-Circle competition

  • 1st Les Maskrey; 2nd Tom Rix; 3rd Cathy Rishman; 4th Les Maskrey; 5th Les Maskrey; 6th Les Bates; 7th Wyn Priestley; 8th Madge Cooper

    Thanks to the judges: WoE - Les Bates and Bob Dye

    Elimination competition - Pujan Dhar

Next Month's Competitions (August)

This will be the Inter-Circle competition with Tunbridge Wells. Our Competition Secretary request that everybody who entered a bottle in the elimination competition bring it along to the August meeting. Although the top 5 will go forward, Les would like to ensure we have back-up in case of unforeseen emergency! Please note: there will be no WoE this month.

Cutie Fruity

Bob supplied this (Mail June 24). Why do Belgians drink their beer from rounded glasses? A team from Oxford University gave 53 volunteers a pale ale to drink in two different glasses - one with straight sides and another that bulged towards the top. The participants were then invited to comment on the taste and flavour in a series of taste tests. Despite the contents being exactly the same, they rated the beer as significantly fruitier when it was served in the curved glass. These results were printed in the journal "Food Quality and Preference." The researchers believe it may, in part, be due to a portion of our brains being hardwired to associate fruitier flavours with rounded shapes.

Watch Out For Little Creepy People

I walk around terrified that I might be set upon by a blue oddity with an advanced case of elephantiasis! The TV ads might make them appear innocuous, even friendly, but my whole being revolts on seeing perfectly normal people being stalked by these monsters. Y'know - borrow a wadge of cash from me amigo - or I might send one of my little blue buddies over... While they may seem to be looking out for you - replacing man-hole covers and the like - they have an ulterior motive. Have you seen how their victims are selected? Just as one blue-beast reinserts himself back onto the innocent looking billboard, another descends to follow someone else. This is a terrifying indication of how vulnerable we have become. Look over your shoulder - ensure you are not being followed. You have been warned!

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Betty Thomson | Reply 06.09.2017 20.39

I have a black grape vine ( just turning black now) probably enough to fill a flexitub. I live in Blean Nr Canterbury if anyone is this way and would like them

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24.01 | 23:08

Offered in good condition:
54-bottle wine rack, wood and galvanised steel construction
5 clear-glass dimijohns
Contact address: ashridge43@tiscali.co.uk

29.10 | 12:37

I have a Beer Sphere with gas and a number of Demi-Johns which I no longer need. If anyone is interested please contact me on 01892 832684 (Paddock Wood)

21.09 | 16:11

I am just starting wine making so could really use some Demijohns. I live close to S'oaks so easy collecting.

06.09 | 20:39

I have a black grape vine ( just turning black now) probably enough to fill a flexitub. I live in Blean Nr Canterbury if anyone is this way and would like them

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