January Newsletter

January Meeting

This was the Members' Favourite Tipple evening. There were seven presenters who treated us to a broad and varied selection of their favourite drinks. Firstly, Les Bates produced a lovely cider. This was Sheppey's West Country produced from a single variety of apple: Dabinett, which gave a slightly sweet and lightly sparkling drink. Next we had new member, Roy Clements, who introduced us to sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire. Roy used to work in the region and gave us a highly informative and exceedingly interesting background which took in the geography and geology of the area - taking in the importance the French attach to the "terroir" in its influence upon taste and body. The wine Roy presented was "Bouvet Ladubay" which was first produced in 1851. This magnificent wine (12.5%) costs £12.99 in the local Majestic. However, Roy got an excellent deal of £6.50 at Coquelles Majestic on our recent French trip! Well done Roy! Then we had Peter Seach presenting a lovely South American wine. Peter is particularly fond of Chilean wine and, one of his favourite producers: Luis Philip Edwards, has experimented successfully with the unusual blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. Well - what a successful experiment! The wine was truly excellent! This 13.5% wine can be found in Waitrose for £8.49. The first red was presented by Margaret Tilbury. Margaret recalled her wonderful camping holidays near the famous bridge of Avignon - with its four remaining arches across the Rhone... Margaret told us of the various grades of Rhone wine - but the one produced was one of hers and John's favourites. Rightly so! It was delicious! Costing £9.14 from Sainsbury's this Cru de cotes du Rhone had grenache in the blend - and was magnificent. Moving on to our chairman, we enjoyed a fine wine from Philip's collection. This Beaujolais Cru (Gamay grape) called Chereaux. It was lovely - but a little lighter than the previous Cotes du Rhone so your idiot secretary deserves reproachment for arranging the order wrongly! A really meaty mouthful, and deserving of its late placement, was the Argentinian Malbec presented by Chris Powis (in Jan's absence). This Trapiche from Mendoza was highly perfumed with just the right amount of tannin to give a truly delectable and quaffable red wine. Well done Chris! Finishing up was Tom Rix. Tom presented two home-made treasures which he's kept for an unusually long time. Firstly, we had a liquor produced in 1978 which Tom called "gin". He served it to us with tonic water and it was unusually nice. His older offering: 1971 carrot and wheat "whisky" was served next. They were both nice drinks - but I have to question if they were actually Tom's "favourite tipple". Why else would he keep them for 40 - 50 years! The evening was rounded off with a delightful story from Roy about the French resistance smuggling members across the border in barrels of Loire wine, with some wine in the bottom of the barrels just in case the guards wanted to sample wine from a particular barrel! In summary, this was an excellent, magical evening. I really think the experiment has worked - and, I'm sure, we are all looking forward to repeating it next January!

That's The Spirit!

Rum is such a varied liquor and has such a broad and chequered history that it's difficult to know where to start. In these circumstances, I suppose it's wise to begin at the beginning... The name was in common use by 1654; various claims to its origin include: rumboozle and rumfustian which were popular British drinks of the time. Strangely, both of these were concoctions of eggs, ale, wine, sugar and various spices - with not a drop of rum! In 1651 there was "rumbullion" which became, by 1664, "rum". These were the true Barbados liquors that we are familiar with today. The majority of the world's rum production occurs in the Caribbean and Latin America (where it is called "ron"). Light rums are used in cocktails whereas golden or dark rums are typically consumed neat. It was, during his lifetime, my Navy father's favourite drink. Which brings me on to its connection with the Royal Navy and to other Navies around the world. The association of rum with the Navy began in 1655 when the fleet captured the island of Jamaica. The Naval authorities decided to replace the sailor's daily brandy ration (with its inconvenient association with all things French...) with a daily tot of rum. The tot was originally taken neat, but Admiral Edward Vernon insisted on the ratings being given watered down rum. This was diluted 3:1 and was called "grog" - possibly because the good Admiral possessed a grogram coat. Reason? To keep the unruly ruffians in check! In the Navy, Rum was called "Nelson's Blood". The tale is that, when the good admiral was killed at Trafalgar, his body was placed in a rum cask to preserve it for the voyage back to England. When the cask was opened in Portsmouth it was found to be empty! The resourceful hands had drilled a little hole at the bottom and consumed the contents during the voyage home! Now who dares argue with the inventiveness of the British matelot!

And A Little Something To Accompany It

Rum Baba is a real classic! When I was a kid I used to look longingly at the delights my mother had produced - but I was never allowed to partake because of the alcohol content! During university, I put all scruples aside and made my own. At least I wasn't the ordinary drunken student! I had an excuse for being drunk! 1 tbsp dried yeast, 6 tbsp warm milk, 8 oz plain flour, ½ tsp salt, 1 oz sugar, 4 beaten eggs, 4 oz softened butter, 4 oz currents, 4 tbsp honey, lotsa rum (well, the recipe says rum "to taste") 3 tbsp apricot jam, double cream. Stir yeast in milk. Place 2 oz flour in a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast mixture and beat to a smooth batter. Allow to stand till frothy (30 mins or so). Mix remaining flour with salt, sugar, eggs, butter and currents. Add the yeast mixture, beat and allow to stand 3 or 4 mins. Butter a dariole mould (more if your batter requires them) and half-fill with the batter. Bake at 400oF (200oC) or gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Mix rum with honey and 4 tbsp water, heat till syrupy, and pour over the warm babas - give them a good drenching! Heat the apricot jam with a little water, sieve and glaze the babas with a generous coating. Decorate as you like with fruit and whipped cream.

 

 

Next Month's Meeting (February)

A South American Odyssey. This will be presented by Cathy (ineptly assisted by the donkey). A couple of years ago we visited Argentina, Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, and Chile. There will be wines from Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. However, there will be an unusual offering from the Falkland Islands. Do come! The penguin wine is - er - unusual!

Next Month's Competitions (February)

Just WoE folks...

Competition Results

Quarterly dry red.

  • 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Tom Rix, 3rd Bob Dye.

    Thanks to Bert Scott who judged.

Country Wine

As you know, there is a country wine class reserved for Tonbridge Winemakers at the Open Show. This year the committee have settled on Cherry Wine as the class to be contested. As usual, you can use any recipe you like, but Les will bring a few along to the next meeting in case you need them. Good luck!

Annual Dinner

Les Maskrey has worked his usual magic on the Rose and Crown again. The event will occur on April 27 - I think the club will agree that April is altogether a more convivial month than February. Warmer and lighter too!

Nomination Forms

That time of year has come round again. The AGM is scheduled for April - and we need a new committee! Please find the attached nomination form and get them returned to me by the last week in February please. Don't forget: if you wish to nominate someone - get their permission first!

Leave The Glass - Use The Bucket!

How to annoy a sommelier - when he sniffs the cork and puts your bottle in a cooler - immediately pour the wine into said cooler and drink it from there! Bob supplied me with a very interesting piece on how the size of glasses has increased over the years (Mail Dec 14 2017). Studies by Cambridge University researchers found the average size of a 1700 wine glass to be 66 ml. What are they now? A 2017 average of 449 ml. Wow!

The Eyes Have It!

Call me old fashioned - but I like being alive. That's becoming increasingly problematic though... Driving at night has become the stuff nightmares are made of. Cars are increasingly being fitted with these super-bright high intensity LED things. Oh - they are supposed to dip automatically and, indeed they do. However, in spite of their claimed super-fast reaction time of 40 ms or so, they still manage to blind me! As a mere human being, I am gifted with a small degree of intelligence. I can actually see the spread of light from an approaching car before it enters the bend around which it is approaching. I dip my lights, he dips his lights - and we are all happy. But if the vehicle is fitted with automatic dippers it actually has to see  you first - then it dips! Result? Your eyes are assaulted by a brief, yet highly uncomfortable stab which might cause a few moments from which to recover. During which you've crashed into him - and you're both on your way to that great big motorway in the sky... Of course - these things were invented to increase road safety. Well, that's what the manufactures would have us believe. In reality, it's to make car X more saleable than car Y. Profit is what drives this - not safety!

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