December Newsletter


The Christmas party night was a festive occasion, with a good turnout of members. Les Bates’ quiz contained a varied array of questions, some of which really had us fooled, starting with question no 1: In which decade did Bing Crosby’s song “White Christmas” enter the UK charts?  I think the majority of us immediately thought of the film “White Christmas” and gave the answer as the 1940’s or 1950’s, whereas the question was referring to the hit song entering the charts, which was in the 1970’s when it was re-released.  The Tonbridge Whiners were the champions.  Many thanks to everyone for providing food for the delicious buffet supper and to Lin and Sylvia for setting up the table. The evening was concluded with a bumper raffle hosted by Tom and Marjorie. Again, thanks to all of you who donated prizes.


The annual day trip to France was, as usual, a successful event. The day went according to plan with plenty of time for shopping before enjoying our excellent lunch at Le Blanc Nez. Our meal was very relaxed with time afterwards to order a brandy or stroll across the road to see the sea. Lee Kirk, one of our guests, summed up the day perfectly in an email: “It made a most enjoyable and restful day, good company, good food and some retail therapy, perfect.”


My Favourite Tipple This year we have a very interesting collection of tipples waiting to be tried at our next meeting on Thursday 3 January.



Quarterly: Dry red

(No wine of the evening competitions this month)


These nibbles can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  The chilli powder gives a bit of a bite to the nuts, therefore it is probably advisable to warn your guests beforehand!

Maple Spiced Nuts, Good Housekeeping

Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus cooling

Cooking time: approx. 15 mins    Serves: 12

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tsp English mustard powder

2 tsp garam masala

½-1 tsp mild chilli powder

250 g (9 oz) mixed unsalted nuts

100 g (3½ oz) macadamia nuts

2 tbsp maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan), gas mark 6. Pour the oil into a small roasting tin and heat in the oven for 5 min.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the mustard powder, garam masala, chilli powder, some freshly ground black pepper and salt.

3. Add the nuts to the hot oil.  Sprinkle over the spice mix and drizzle with maple syrup.  Mix to coat.  Roast for 10 min until golden, tossing halfway.

4. Empty nuts onto a baking tray and leave to cool completely before serving.



2019 Dates for North Tonbridge HS Open Shows

Spring show: 6 April

Summer show: 22 June

Autumn show: 31 August (liqueur class only)

Spring and summer show classes: Dry White, Dry Red, Sweet White, Sweet Red

Try a fiano for a change

Several weeks ago, the Sunday Times wrote an article on fiano wines, which they recommended as an excellent alternative to popular whites such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. The fiano grape (a lesser known grape in the UK) is grown mainly around Naples in southern Italy and has also been introduced in Australia.  It is a lightweight dry wine with citrus flavours. The Sunday Times reviewed 6 of these wines and Geoff and I have tried a couple, which can be bought locally.

Our favourite was the Triade from Waitrose, 2017, vol 12.5%, £9. It is a blend of three traditional Campania grapes: Greco, Fiano and Falanghina, which made a perfectly balanced wine. It had a pleasant perfumed bouquet and citrus flavours.

The other wine which we tried was the M&S Fiano Sannio, 2017, vol 13.5%, £9.50. A very pleasant wine with lemony flavours, but not such a powerful nose.  The Waitrose Triade seemed to be a better balanced wine.

The Sunday Times also recommended the Irresistible Fiano from the Coop for £7, which would be well worth a try.


M&S are in trouble again

Daily Telegraph: Last month I wrote about M&S being criticised for designing a bottle label for colouring in, which had the potential danger of leading people, particularly ladies, astray by causing wine to be associated with relaxation while they were colouring. Well this month things are much more serious. M&S have recently introduced a Pornstar Martini in a can. The cocktail is a blend of passionfruit and vodka and costs £2 for a 250 ml can.  Mothers are up in arms over this as they feel a drink with this word (although a recognised cocktail) should not be seen in a family store.  Also, the feminist group Object said that the supermarket is normalising porn.   At time of going to press M&S had not commented. I just wonder what their next misdemeanour will be!

A corkscrew with a difference

Daily Mail: The increasing popularity of the metal screw cap on wine bottles has had a detrimental effect upon Portugal’s cork industry. 

However, after 4 years of development Portugal’s cork manufacturer, Amorim, which worked with the Adega Vila Real winery and the Coop, have found a solution.  They have developed the “Helix” cork which combines the tradition of cork and the convenience of the screw cap.  The Helix is shaped with a thread, which means it is released from the mouth of the specially designed bottle when twisted and will simply screw back on to keep the wine fresh.  An Oxford University study found drinkers feel wines with a cork are of a better quality than wines sealed with a screw cap.

The first wine to have the Helix cork is a Vila Real Rabelo Red 2015, which is described as robust and fruity and sells at £6 from the Coop.

Should we ask Les to change the competition rules to accommodate the screw cork?


From the committee:

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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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

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