October Newsletter


Our speaker, Derek March, gave an entertaining talk on woods and furniture restoration. Derek firstly told us about his early interest and career in wood, which began as a schoolboy when he spent his holidays helping the woodwork teacher. True to form Derek’s first car was none other than a “Woodie” (Morris Traveller). Derek gained much of his woodworking knowledge as a young man while working for a large specialist company in Sevenoaks, which was housed on four floors with each floor dedicated to a speciality; milling, carcassing, assembly and finishing.

Throughout the talk we were introduced to various types of wood such as applewood, rosewood, yew, holly, beech, mahogany, walnut and their appropriate uses. Derek also informed us about the essential tools for restoration and the art of French polishing.

I am sure we all learned a lot from this talk. In my case I was interested to discover that I am the owner of a loo (card) table. Sadly it is worth nothing, however I am still determined to restore it and have ordered a bottle of shellac from Amazon. 


Wine of the Evening

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

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

Judge: Geoff Rishman


Our guest speaker, Marion Regan, Managing Director of Hugh Lowe Farms, Mereworth, will be giving a talk on soft fruits.  Hugh Lowe Farms are suppliers of strawberries at Wimbledon and soft fruits to Waitrose.


WoE (dry and sweet classes)

OPEN SHOW - 28 March 2020

The Scout Hall on the Ridgeway has been booked for our next Open Show. Bob and Geoff are currently contacting National Judges to officiate at this event.

Country Wine Class: Just a reminder that a medium elderflower wine has been selected for this class. I have some dried elderflowers available for anyone who would be interested in entering the competition.


The schedule is included as a separate attachment to this newsletter.  Please make your choices and return the form to me ASAP or at the November meeting at the very latest. We currently have one spare seat available. Please contact me soonest if you would like to join us.


Cobnuts are plentiful at present. This recipe makes a delicious cake with a hint of ginger.

Kentish Cobnut Cake, Waitrose Weekend

150g cobnuts, shelled

275g self-raising flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 pieces stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely sliced

150g slightly salted butter

100g golden syrup

125g light brown muscovado sugar, plus 1 tbs

170ml single cream

1 medium egg, beaten

1) Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Grease and line an 18cm round cake tin. Put the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool slightly then roughly slice. Put 125g in a bowl with the flour, ground cinnamon and chopped ginger.

2) Put the butter, syrup and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, then the egg.

3) Add to the dry ingredients and mix. Turn into the tin and level the surface. Scatter with the reserved nuts and a little extra sugar.

4) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until just firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.



The Grape Unknown at Waitrose

The October edition of Waitrose Food magazine has an interesting article on wines from lesser known grapes. Drinkers are urged to try something a little different, yet along the same lines as their favourite grapes. The reason why these grapes are not well known is that they tend to be very old strains or indigenous to small areas. Many of the wines featured in this article can be purchased in the Tonbridge store and are marketed under the Waitrose & Partners label. The article pairs the following wines:

Favoured Grape

Similar Lesser Known Grape

Sauvignon blanc

Arinto, Lisbon, £7.99

Pinot grigio

Petit Manseng, SW France, £9.99

Provencal rosé

Zweigelt, Austria, £8.99


Marselan, SW France, £6.99


Mencia, Bierio, Spain, £9.99


País, Maule Region, Chile, £7.99

Cotes du Rhône

Cannonau di Sardegna, Sardinia, £8.99


Pecorino, Italy, £8.99


Elbling, Mosel Valley, Germany, £6.99

Geoff and I have tried the Mencia and Cannonau di Sardegna. We recommend opening the Mencia 2 hours prior to drinking in order to bring out the cherry and raspberry flavours characteristic of a Valpolicella. The Cannonau di Sardegna is a very pleasant fruity wine and our favourite out of the two we tried.


Boost your Good Bacteria with a Glass of Red

Daily Mail: Researchers at King’s College London have analysed in a study of 916 female twins, the impact of beer, cider, spirits, white and red wine on the gut microbiome, which helps support the immune system and metabolism. Interestingly if one sister preferred red wine then her gut bacteria tended to be healthier than her sister’s. These results were compared to studies conducted in the US and Holland on 2,000 people which produced similar results. Even if only one glass of red wine was consumed every 2 or 3 weeks a significant impact was apparent. The researchers believe this is due to polyphenois – defence chemicals naturally present in grapes – which they believe act as fuel for good bacteria.

Dr Caroline Le Roy, whose work is published in Gastroenterology, said: “While we have long known of the unexplained benefits of red wine on heart health, this study shows that moderate red wine consumption is associated with greater diversity and a healthier gut microbiota that partly explain its long-debated beneficial effects on health.” However, Dr Le Roy does stress that “it is still advised to consume alcohol with moderation”.

An imbalance of “good” microbes compared to “bad” in the gut can lead to health issues such as a reduced immune system, weight gain or high cholesterol. A person’s gut microbiome with a higher number of different bacterial species is considered a marker of good health. The researchers found that the gut microbiota of red wine drinkers contained a greater number of different bacterial species.

Scientists believe that further research may eventually lead to the beneficial properties of red wine being extracted and prescribed in the form of medication without drinking the wine itself. Ben Spencer, the Daily Mail Medical Correspondent, does comment that this would be a less pleasurable option. I think we would all agree with Ben!  

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)

A Softer Chianti

Daily Telegraph: The Italian Government has approved a request from the Chianti Wine Consortium to raise the level of residual sugars from the grapes they use   in order to make the wine more appealing to women and younger drinkers. The consortium, which represents 3,000 growers in the vineyards surrounding Florence, believe a residual sugar rise will “soften” the taste of Chianti, rather than give it a sweeter taste. Chianti is usually made from a blend of grapes, with the red Sangiovese grape being the prevalent one. Previously the producers had to keep their sugar levels to a maximum of 4g per litre, but now they will be able to add 2g per litre to the acidity level which varies from one wine to another.

Giovanni Busi, the consortium president, told the Daily Telegraph: “It will still be a dry wine. The limit we have will be the same as other famous Italian wines like the Brunello and the Barolo. It wont taste any sweeter. When we participate in wine fairs in Brazil, America or in Asia, people often tell us Chianti is a great wine but too hard, with too much tannin. Women want wines that are more fragrant, with less tannin. This is a normal evolution.” 

Chianti has been produced in the hills in Tuscany since the 13th century where its vineyards occupy 15,000 hectares of land. The wine has evolved over time as tastes have changed and softening the wine will help to maintain its appeal to the present-day drinker.



Bob Dye found this snippet in the Daily Mail:


Does drinking too much scrumpy have ciderfects?

(V Hefter, Richmond, Surrey)

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Latest comments

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

01.09 | 16:45

Hi - we have a vine that has produced quite a good few grapes this year.
The grapes are red, small and sweet would anyone be interested in them?
Can send photo

13.03 | 12:56

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

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