January Newsletter

January Meeting

My Favourite Tipple

Six members provided an interesting selection of drinks for this event.

  1. White port – Bob Dye: Taylor’s Chip Dry, 20%, £13.99, Waitrose. We were served this drink chilled as an aperitif. When offered an aperitif Bob told us that he always opts for a white port in preference to a sherry and on sampling this one I can understand why. A wonderful wine.
  2. Elderflower, dry – Cathy Rishman: I decided to fly the winemaking flag and brought along a bottle of my 2018 elderflower wine. I particularly enjoy this wine around Christmas, as the days are just beginning to get longer and its crisp, fresh taste remind me of the approaching summer when I will be picking elderflowers for my next batch.
  3. Australian red – Les Bates: Lindeman's Winemakers Release Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018, 13.5%, £8.99 (currently on offer at £5.99), Waitrose. Les commented that Australian wines have become more Europeanised and tamer in recent years. Certainly a most enjoyable and quaffable wine. Les recommends opening it 2-3 hrs before drinking.
  4. Malbec – Jan Powis: Pierre Chanau Cahors Malbec, 2018, 13.5%, €3.29, Auchan. Jan’s first experience with red wine was Merlot, followed by Shiraz and then Malbec, which quickly became her favourite. Jan then talked about the grape and its history. This wine was a real little gem. It had all the qualities of a rich, full bodied wine at a bargain price. An excellent find on the French trip.
  5. Portuguese red – Les Maskrey: Aluado Alicante Bouschet, 2017, 13.5%, £9.99, Laithwaites. Unfortunately, Les was laid up with a bad cough, but Chris presented this wine in his absence and distributed factsheets that Les had prepared. A nice smooth, full bodied and fruity wine.
  6. Spanish brandy – Bert Scott: Terry Centenario, 36%, €10. A great way to conclude the evening. This was a smooth brandy where the grapes are grown in the chalky soil of the Jerez region.

Thank you to all the “volunteers” who talked about their wines as this contributed to a really good evening. (I’m not too sure whether my homemade elderflower should be included in this list – next time I will bring along a commercial wine!)


Quarterly Dry Red: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Cathy Rishman, 3rd Bob Dye

Judge: Chris Powis


This promises to be a great evening as we will be having a commercial tasting by Angela Johnson of Majestic Wines.


WoE (dry and sweet classes)


A date for your diaries: The Annual Dinner will be held on Friday 24 April, at the Rose and Crown Hotel, Tonbridge.  Menu to follow soon.


Subscriptions are due on 1 February.  Please can you complete the attached form and return it to our treasurer, Chris, either by post with a cheque enclosed or at the February meeting.


An old favourite, which, if started now, would be ready to enter in June for the Jock Franklin trophy. It’s a really easy wine to make, so please reluctant winemakers brush the cobwebs off your demijohns and start winemaking again.

English Type Grape Wine, Fred Barnfather

3 ltr white grape juice             25 cl elderflower cordial

1 lb white sugar                         Wine yeast

Pectic enzyme                           Nutrient

Campden tablet                        Wine finings

1. Put the sugar and ½ pint of boiling water into a saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool and pour into a demijohn; add the fruit juices, cordial, nutrient and the pectic enzyme. Mix well, fit a fermentation lock and leave in a warm room for 24 hours.

2. Add the yeast and top up with water, leaving room for frothing.  As the fermentation slows, more water can be added.

3. Leave until fermentation finishes and the wine tastes dry to near-dry. Transfer the jar to a cool place for a day or so until the sediment is well-settled.

4. Rack into another demijohn, top up with cold water, add the finings. When the wine is clear re-rack and top up again.

5. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the acidity with one or two teaspoons of tartaric acid.

6. Leave for a month then, if there is no sign of fermentation, add a crushed Campden tablet, agitate to dissolve, then keep for at least a week before bottling.



White Grape Juice

Sadly we can no longer buy white grape juice at our local supermarkets, however it is available online at www.Amazon.co.uk  Currently a pack of 4 Stute 1 ltr cartons can be purchased for £15.97 or 6 cartons for £21.92 with free delivery on both options.

A Lidl Bargain

Côtes du Rhone £3.19, reduced from £4.49, until 22 January.

Supermarket Wine Awards

Two supermarket own-label wines were awarded trophies this year at the 2019 International Wine Challenge. Waitrose Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018 (£11.99) won the Provence Rosé Trophy and Tesco took home the Amarone Trophy for its Cantina Valpantena’s Tesco Finest Amarone 2015 (£18).


An Award Winning English Red

Drinks Retailing News: An English red wine has been awarded a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge for the first time. The Red Miller 2018 is produced in Kent by Hush Heath, which used 100% Pinot Meunier grapes. This grape is generally used along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to make sparkling wines and it is rarely seen as a key component in still red wine. Yet winemaker Owen Elias has produced an excellent red from a single plot of extremely ripe Pinot Meunier grapes. Elias said: “Pinot Meunier is rarely seen as a still red anywhere in the world. Here we have a delicate and aromatic wine which will be extremely interesting as it develops over the next two years.” Only 5,000 bottles of the limited-edition Red Miller 2018 were produced, but it Is encouraging to see England gaining an award for a red.

 (Article kindlysupplied by Les Bates)

The revival of the British Pub

Daily Telegraph: Figures from the Office of National Statistics show a rise in the number of pubs for the first time in a decade. In 2017 there were 48,000 pubs across the country, 24% fewer than in 1990. However, over the past year there has been an increase of 320 pubs. Furthermore, JD Wetherspoon recently announced a £200m programme to open at least another 60 pubs and expand some of its existing ones.

It is difficult to understand why pubs started to disappear. The Daily Telegraph believe it was due to the drink driving laws forcing many country pubs out of business and the smoking ban. Both these factors have encouraged people to drink at home instead. Another factor is the rise of the “new man” who enjoys taking an active role in household chores and helping with the children, rather than escaping to the pub.

Why the recent revival? The Daily Telegraph suggests firstly, many pubs now offer gastronomic meals in their restaurants. Secondly, especially in city centres, many have become entertainment venues hosting music and comedy events, giant screen sports, quiz nights etc. Finally, most pubs have upgraded their décor and offer a range of craft beers and artisan gins in place of fizzy lagers and pork scratchings.

Whatever the reason, it is encouraging news.

Britons consuming 108 Bottles of Wine a Year

Daily Telegraph: A study of 36 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has revealed that the UK’s alcohol consumption is among the highest in developed countries. On average we drink the equivalent of 108 bottles of wine a year or 427 pints of 4% strength beer.  Separate figures show hospital treatment for pensioners with alcohol related problems has doubled in the last decade. Health campaigners say the “baby boomers” drink far more than the younger generation and turn a “blind eye” to health risks.


Bob Dye found this cartoon in the Daily Mail and thought of Tonbridge Winemakers.

Perhaps the cartoon applies to the previous article!

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Latest comments

02.01 | 17:16

Thank you for contacting our website. I will see if any of our members are interested in your offer. Whereabouts are you located?

02.01 | 17:00

I have 8 clear glass demijohns if anyone wants them.

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

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