December Newsletter

December Meeting

This was the Christmas Party night! An excellent time was had by all - and a huge thanks to all the members - who brought a wide and varied selection of food and drink for all to enjoy! Our catering team of Lin and Sylvia organised the refreshments beautifully - thank you ladies! Thank you to all the members who brought along such an excellent array of goodies for the raffle; your efforts resulted in a whopping £58! Thanks also to Les for his fiendish quiz; we all learned something from this! Even if it was that supermarkets and farmers' markets have differing criteria for labelling milk. The fact is, you cannot buy unpasteurised milk in a supermarket - so the green top is fine for semi-skimmed milk. Buy "green" in a farmers' market and you're buying unpasteurised. Listeriosis anyone?

That's The Spirit

Poire William is an Eau de Vie produced in France; it's  a brandy made from Bartlett pears. There are many different ways of producing it; some are dry and others have a sweetness to them: these are called "Cremé de Poire William". What is undoubted is that they are simply delicious! The better ones actually have a pear in the bottle. This is achieved by tying a bottle to a twig with a pear bud on it. The bud is then allowed to develop inside the bottle.

And A Little Something To Accompany It

At this time of year it's nice to have a special cocktail if you have friends and family around. This one is delicious and easy to make: 1¾ oz sugar, 2 fl oz plus 4 tsps Poire William, 1 pt champagne (OK - Prosecco or Cava will do!), 1 small pear. In a small saucepan heat the sugar and 2 fl oz Poire William over a moderate heat until sugar is dissolved (about 5 min). Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool. Spoon 1½ tablespoons cooled syrup into each of 4 champagne flutes and add 1 tsp Poire William to each glass. Fill with fizz, stir well and add the pear (cut lengthwise into thin slices) Enjoy!

Next Month's Meeting (January)

It's the members' tipple evening. A very big thank you to all members who have volunteered to present a favourite tipple; it is SO much better than last year! Thus far, we have three or four members committed. If we can get more - we can "retire" a couple of committee members. Go on! It's your club. More volunteers needed! Please could all members who have volunteered let me know what they are presenting. I can then arrange a suitable running order. Thanks again!

Next Month's Competitions (January)

In January we have just one competition: quarterly dry red.

There will be no WoE because of the members' tipple.

Competition Results

Just a quick reminder that, as there was no competition last month, there is nothing to report. However, in January we revert to competitions (quarterly dry red). Now, without apology, yet another appeal for volunteers for the "tipple evening" please!

Devilish Blackberry Wine

Blackberry wine has never been a favourite of mine - but I know many wine makers swear by it. However, be careful - be very very careful about the harvesting of this fruit. Michaelmas - a somewhat archaic festival heralding the end of harvest - was celebrated on September 29. The belief that, if you ate goose on Michaelmas day, you had good fortune for the rest of the year, has yet to be tested in this household. However, just in case there's an element of truth in the old tale, I have stored a nice fat frozen goose from Lidl - to be cooked on Michaelmas day 2018! Saw it cheap and couldn't resist! But, what of the morbid belief regarding blackberries? Long, long ago, on a dark and stormy night, while the Banshee howled on the wailing wind - a fallen angel called Satan was cast from heaven. As he plummeted to Earth he fell into a bramble bush. Chastened and humiliated he rent the air with a bestial roar, cursed, screamed and smote the detestable plant... How dare it blemish the skin of one so fair and refined as he? The infernal one scorched the fruit with his fiery breath, spat upon the accursed crop and stamped upon the prickly plant. The fruit, inedible thereafter, should not be used for turning into wine or anything else. It is said that if you pick blackberries after Michaelmas day, you'll arrange a meeting with old Nick... You'll never know when he's coming - but it'll be on a dreary winter's night with a howling Banshee wind... As you trudge alone in the darkness, a cold, unwholesome, deadly mist  descends. Unearthly, icy fingers of doom caress your protesting skin. Muscles locked in grim catatonic torpor...You daren't look back... You just know what's there... Still fancy your chances?

French Trip 2017

Cathy wrote the following:

A party of 47 Winemakers and guests enjoyed a day out in France at the end of last month. The weather was very cold, with even a few snowflakes falling on the way down to Folkestone. On arrival at Le Channel there was much concern as the trains were delayed by one hour. Unfortunately this meant slightly less time at Coquelles, but we were still able to do our shopping at Auchan and taste and buy wines at Majestic. Afterwards we were treated to an excellent meal at Le Blanc Nez in Sangatte with, as usual, a very warm welcome from Caroline and her team. All in all, a great day out.

I think both Cathy and Wyn deserve a special vote of thanks from us all for the hard work they put in to ensuring that this day went as smoothly, and as faultlessly, as ever. Thanks Cathy and Wyn!
(I wonder what Les was asking Caroline for in the picture above?)

Sleep Well. Nanny's Looking Out For You

I have Bob to thank for this: it has been reported (Mail Nov 14) that the police are arming shopkeepers with breathalysers "in a crackdown on street drinking". Whilst most of us are not keen on drinking streets (I prefer a good bitter myself) there are the odd few drunks who make life unpleasant for the majority. But is that a good enough reason for the police to curtail civil liberties yet again? More and more we are being hemmed in by well-intentioned yet corrosive sentiment that can only end in an irrecoverable loss of self-responsibility. And it's not just about shopkeepers taking it upon themselves to deny someone a sale because "they've already had one or two" - this caustic intrusion pervades everywhere these days... Look how often you have to be careful what you say in case you "offend" someone - who is, in any case, probably intent on being offended.

The expression (though God knows where it came from) is "political correctness". I believe, strongly, that one should learn right from wrong, that wilful annoyance of others is abhorrent, but the right place to learn the niceties of social behaviour is from your parents - not from some "up-yours" "told-you-so" I'm "ever-so-correct" social engineer!

Stone-Age Pioneers

From the same source (thanks Bob!) we learn why certain expressions regarding the taste of wine have originated. I always wondered where expressions relating to "steely" or "flinty" came from when wine connoisseurs were describing their experience of a particular wine.  In a three-pronged study by the Georgian National Museum, the university of Toronto and the university of Philadelphia, based upon residues found in clay pots, it can be reasonably ascertained that Neolithic farmers were mashing grapes together using varieties similar to today's pinot noir and syrah. This pushes wine's origin back a further 1000 years from the previous best estimate of 5000BC. This domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine led to today's 8,000 to 10,000 grape varieties. The Eurasian grape, from the Georgia region, was transplanted and crossed, again and again, with other wild vines found elsewhere. So, the Eurasian grapevine, that now accounts for 99.9 % of the wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia. Now, I know what you're thinking - why "steely"? Well, the iron age came after the stone age didn't it?

Ivan's Lament

The Russian Bear's economy suffered another set-back recently as it was disclosed that sales of vodka were eclipsed by the meteoric rise of gin (Telegraph, 16 December 2017). An annual survey by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) showed that vodka sales were down from 26% last year to 21% this year. Concurrently, gin rose from 21% to 29% to become the most popular spirit. Other types of alcoholic drink, including wine and beer, either gained in popularity - or remained unchanged. In fact, gin sales have doubled in value over the last six years: up to £1.2 billion from £630 million in 2011.

What's The Point Of This?

A report in the "Telegraph" (13 December, 2017) showed a new illusion dreamt up by Dr Kohske Takahashi of Chukyo University in Japan. He described the effect as "curvature blindness" which occurs when the brain is fooled into thinking curved lines are pointy! In the illusion, all the lines are equally curved! After a few pints out of a curved glass, my brain does some pretty funny things too!

It's Those Goats Again

The latest howler from the Ship Inn  at Conyer: they're offering their excellent fayre on Tuesday 21 December. If you like goat, I'm sure you like it well done. They sell "twice baked goats" at the ship!

Twice baked goats cheese soufflé with walnut crust

Dunno about the cheese soufflé with walnut crust though...

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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

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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)

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21.09 | 16:11

Hi,
I am just starting wine making so could really use some Demijohns. I live close to S'oaks so easy collecting.
Regards,
bob.goodsir@btinternet.com

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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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