Making the most of your Summer Wine

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer?   This is the time of year when some of us decide to travel away from these shores to more exotic locations and (just to be social) try some of the local wines!  If you are feeling that little more adventurous then pick up a local cheese to go with your wine and see if the local produce really does go best with the local wine!

Whether it’s a vacation or “staycation” then here are a few more tips and recommendations to try out!   Most of which have been tried and tested by our wine committee!

  • Going to a Summer BBQ round friends and want to ensure you are able to drink a nice bit of plonk with your chicken burger/salad/Prawns….etc Take a good bottle of Rose…..most people will assume this is a cheap bottle from one of the budget supermarkets and leave well alone, heading for the white instead. Leaving you to enjoy some good quality wine all to yourself!
  • Want to try something different to cool you down? Look no further than the drink of this Summer, An Aperol Spritz!   Cool, easy to drink, looks and tastes amazing!   How do you make it?   4 oz chilled prosecco, 2 oz Aperol, Sparkling water and a slice or two of orange.  Put it in one of those large round gin glasses you got for Christmas with buckets of ice.  Sit back and enjoy!
  • Food idea? Meal for one (or two small eaters) and cannot finish off the entire bottle?   Open a bottle of nice dry white wine and make a risotto.  Have a glass whilst you are making it.  Pour a glass in as you make it and then have a glass whilst eating it!   Nothing wasted and a great use of wine!   (For reference I use the Jamie Oliver simple risotto recipe, although I normally end up opening a second bottle!)
  • Lastly, and something I know we have all experienced. If you are on holiday and find yourself sitting down by the pool, with the hot sun on your back and a glass of some local wine in your hand (for probably less than 5 EUROS), drink it ALL and leave it out there, along with the wonderful memories of your trip.   If you try bringing it back home to recreate that magical moment, then the likelihood is you will get to realise why it was just 5 EUROS!

Whatever you are doing, enjoy your break!   The Upton Wine Club will be at the Fete this year on the 7th September.  Please do come along and say hi!   Our first meeting will be on the 18th September at the village hall.   If you are new to the club and want to give it a try then please do send me an mail:

Ian Langley

Wine Club Prepare for the Return of Picnic in the Park

Wednesday 15th May saw the last of this seasons’ “usual” monthly wine club meetings, with a number of wines presented by club members.  For the first time, we teamed up with the Upton Baking Club, who made some superb food to go with the wine.  Too many people to mention but a massive thank you to everyone who spoke and produced some amazing food.  Yet another reminder of just how sociable and friendly we are in this village!  For details on all the wines, please go to our website.

Voting was also held for a club logo, a bit of fun and with lots of options to choose from.  The winner will be revealed at the opening meeting for next season!

It was our pleasure to celebrate a special birthday of one of our founder members, Mike Collins, who, even after 8 glasses of wine, was able to deliver an off the cuff thank you speech with a level of detail, humour and coherence we have come to expect from his many talks for the club.

We are delighted to say that following the success of last year, we will be inviting everyone from the village and their friends to join us for another Picnic in the Park on Saturday 29th June.  Starting at 5pm, the Wine Club invites you all to come along and enjoy a few games, some drink (not just wine!) and a bit of food!

We will get the party started, providing some food and drink as part of entry fee (£10 adults, £5 children – Under 5’s free).  As per last year, you are invited to bring your own picnic to continue the party!

For anyone who did not come last year (and there were only a few!), Picnic in the Park is an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon/evening with some of your friends from the village.  A chance to catch up with the person you nod to as you walk your dog but never seem to have the time to talk, or if you are new to the village get introduced to some of the characters who have become your neighbours (and there are many!)

Back by popular demand will be another chance to see how far you can whang your welly (audiences are advised to sand well back!), throw your egg to a friend (see previous advice to the audience!), bring a sample of your home brew (for the “best homebrew” in the village trophy!) and many more fun things to do!

All the details will be available on the Upton Wine Club website (  For more information or to book your tickets, please mail Ian, our Chairman at

Keep an eye out for “Welly”, who has returned and is situated somewhere in the village with more details on how to be part of Picnic in the Park.  We hope to see you there!



Wine Club look at paying for the brand.

Have you noticed the price of wine has gone up recently?  If, for example your favourite tipple is a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume, then you will be paying a few extra pounds for the same bottle this year than last. There are a number of reasons for this and not all down to Brexit! Low yields, increases in tax and the simple economics of supply and demand to name but a few. Maybe, you are also paying a bit for the brand?

With this in mind, April’s wine club took on the challenge of comparing similar wines but with a significant price difference!  Members compared two wines at a time, served blind. First, we looked at two sparkling wines. A Cremant de Loire and Taittinger. Both excellent wines with the Champagne giving classic notes of yeast and “ burnt toast” flavour synonymous with that quality wine. The members were split on opinions and with the Cremant nearly 3 times cheaper the overall consensus was that you could taste the difference but if the flavours of Champagne are not your thing then at £12.99 a bottle, what a great alternative!.

Next we looked at two Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Loire region. The North or “upper regions” are famous for producing excellent SB’s. Some of the most well known wines come from the Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire region, which produce excellent but rather expensive whites. We looked at a Pouilly Fume and another SB from the less know area of Touraine, 60 miles to the West. If you like this wine then please do try some from the Touraine area, based on the reaction from our members, there was little to tell between both wines (other than the Olivier Dubois from Touraine was £7.99, over half the price of the Les Cascadeles).

We moved on to the reds and tried two wines with a base grape of Tempranillo. A classic Rioja was compared with wine from Ribera del duero (North West of Spain). The Vina Alarde Reserva Rioja was considered an excellent example of a good Rioja, which at £5.48 per bottle, was a third the price of the Emilio Moro (which was still an excellent wine!) if you have never tried wines from the Ribera region then definitely worth a try from something a little different.

Our last comparison of the evening looked at two wines from Bordeaux. The Wine Societies house Claret was compared with the Society’s Exhibition Margaux. With the Margaux being one of our most expensive wines of the year at nearly £25 per bottle, we were all keen to see if there was much difference. One only had to look at the different quantities of wine in each of David’s (the presenter), tasting glass to see which was his favourite wine of the evening! Sometimes it really is worth paying a bit extra……but do not always go with the wine just because of the brand!

Next month’s wine’s club is on the 15th May and is a must for new and existing members. We are combining food from the Upton Baking club with Members stories – a chance to hear what everyone else has been tasting over the past year or so. Also, we will be voting for the Wine Club Logo! There is still time to submit your entry! For all the details please visit our website:

Ian Langley (Chairman)


Wine Club Enjoy a Wine and Cheese Evening

Carrying on the popular theme of wine with food, we had another great wine and cheese evening this month with some outstanding cheeses and very drinkable wine combinations.

We started with a lovely, high quality and drinkable Prosecco with a delicious Gran Padano cheese followed by a crisp, dry yet very aromatic and pleasantly floral Greek white with some melted halloumi. A lightly oaked yet bright and fresh Chardonnay paired well with a beautiful creamy brie and a fragrant and full-bodied Viognier with a very indulgent creamy and complex Delice de Crème!

On to reds and we enjoyed a very fruity rich Sangiovese with Taleggio: Typically a mild creamy cheese with an unexpected pungent aroma. Then a very drinkable fruity Grenache from the Barossa valley in Australia. It was brilliantly paired with a hard goat’s cheese affectionately named “Rustic Rachel” after a lovely lady who apparently shared personality traits with this cheese (sweet, curvy and slightly nutty – wish we could meet her!) and topped with a dark cherry to match the notes of the wine. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina made from grapes grown in the very sunny region of North Mendoza went very well with a delicious mature Cornish Quartz cheddar.

We rounded off the evening with a tawny port paired with a robust Barkham Blue, a lovely classic combination leaving us wanting even more despite having had SO much!

Thanks to the Committee for pulling together some delicious and well matched combinations.   All in all it was a very sociable and relaxed evening.

It’s great to see both regular and new faces at Wine Club.   If you’re new to Upton and you would like to meet some friendly village folk over a drink and a chat or would just like to try it out, please get in touch or just come along to our next meeting on Wednesday 17th April at 8pm. It’s very relaxed and down to earth and you really don’t need to know anything about wine (just enjoy drinking it). We would love to see you!

Lastly, don’t forget the Wine Club logo competition!  Entries to Ian in time for May’s meeting.

Any enquiries about Wine Club, please contact Ian at


For more wine and meeting details please see Twitter @UptonWine

Wine Club Pair Food and Wine

The theme of February’s Wine Club evening was the pairing of food & wine from the same country, with the added challenge of the foods being a little out-of-the-ordinary as far as wine pairing goes.

First on the menu was a very tasty Peri-Peri chicken dish.  This spicy dish from Portugal was matched with a very drinkable vihno verde, Casal de Ventozela (Majestic Wines, £7.99 as part of a “mix six” discount).  There was general agreement in the crowd that the match worked well and was a good one to remember for the summer BBQ season.

Then we hopped half way around the globe in one bound and landed in Thailand!  Here we were met with Thai butternut squash soup, which although absolutely delicious proved to be a real challenge on the wine-pairing front!  There had been valiant attempts to get hold of a Thai wine, but the gods were against it and so after much head-scratching the dish was paired with a 2017 Dr Loosen Riesling (£15.99 @ Waitrose) from the southern end of the Mosel valley in Germany, where the Riesling wines are more fruity and sweeter than their more northerly counterparts.  Despite not being Thai, everyone agreed it was a great pairing and one to remember for the next visit to your favourite Thai restaurant.

Next we brought it back home to Blighty where we were served traditional fish ‘n’ chips, and to cut through the cholesterol, what better than the fine acidity of an English sparking wine: in this case it was Ridgeview Bloomsbury (£25.99 @ Waitrose).  The fizz worked very well with the richness of the food and the citrus notes chimed well with the fish.

Of course, no globetrotting wine tour would be complete without a visit to France and here we were treated to a delicious pâté.  The wine pairing here worked brilliantly and was a pinot noir from Burgundy (‘Les Pierres Rouges’ 2015 Louis Jadot @ Majestic Wine – £14.99 as part of a “mix six” discount).  The richness of the food was balanced well by the lighter and slightly tannic wine.

Travelling back to the Iberian peninsula, Spain was our next port of call.  Here we tasted sautéd chorizo and sweet peppers which were set off superbly by the higher alcohol and tannins of a rich Rioja (Hacienda Don Hernan Rioja 2016 @ Naked Wines, £11.99).  Again one to remember for those looming summer months.

Next we jumped over The Pond and landed in South America: Argentina to be precise.  Here we were treated to Morcilla (black pudding to me and you), which again proved to pose something of a challenge on the wine pairing front.  However, after a little thought and a lot of help from the nice man at Majestic Wines, we found a very succulent Argentinian “Bordeaux” blend (Arraigo Benegas Single Vinyard Blend 2011 – £11.99 as part of a “mix six” discount) which did a better than average job of matching up to the food.

Heading north from there we entered the land of the burger (USofA) where that king of foods was paired with a wine which is one of my personal favourites – Zinfandel (F. Stephen Millier Black Label Old Vine @ Naked Wines – £10.99).  A match made in heaven!

And finally, back to Spain to match one of the most delicious meringues that I and most others there had tasted, with a great example of a Floralis Moscatel dessert wine (Floralis Moscatel Oro Catalunya @ Waitrose – £8.25 per half bottle).  A perfect end to a great evening!

NB: Special thanks to Maddy Langley for her to-die-for meringues. I swear there were scuffles for the last few!

All-in-all another very sociable and well lubricated evening.  If you’re curious about wine and want to join us in learning more (we’re no experts!) or just fancy a good night out  drop our chairman a note ( or just come along to the next evening on 20th March at 8pm in the Upton Village Hall – all welcome!



Wine Club go looking for a Bargain

Following on from the most expensive time of the year, but not kow-towing to dry January, the welcome theme for January’s village wine club was the January Sales! Interesting wines, significantly discounted by big retailers, were carefully selected by enthusiastic committee members looking out for a bargain!

We had a good range of wines from a light Spanish sparkling Cava to some contrasting whites including a WHITE Rioja (Kevin!), a refreshing dry Muscadet and an exotic fruity Australian Chardonnay. Very drinkable and good value reds comprised a New Zealand Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, a fruity Zinfandel, a meaty Chianti Classico and a classy Barossa Shiraz. All wines had at least a 25% discount on normal prices and are at time of writing still available!  For more detail of the wines, please see the Upton Wine Club website at follow us on twitter @UptonWine

In other news, would anyone be interested in having a go at designing the first Upton Wine Club logo?  Any entries would be very welcome and the prize for the winner will be your own T shirt with the newly designed logo on the front.  It will be an excellent addition to your wardrobe and very good for showing off around the village when the summer comes.

Meanwhile, coming up is our very popular food and wine pairing meeting. Please put Wednesday 20th February in your diary and don’t forget to book! We would love to see you there. It was great to see some new faces this month; we hope very much to see you again next time for some great wines and hopefully delicious food. All welcome as ever.

Any enquiries about Wine Club, please contact Ian at


A Christmas Tipple at The Wine Club

This month’s Wine Club meeting on 12th December saw our annual homage to Christmas, this year centred around wines to go with each and every course of Christmas Dinner: from a bone dry Cava with the canapés to a delicious tawny port for the stilton and nuts.  To highlight the Christmas Dinner theme an enormous dining table was laid out in the village hall and a small-but-perfectly-formed Christmas meal, including turkey with all the trimmings, was served to every person at what turned out to be a very popular meeting!

The first wine of the evening was a Cava: “Cava Conde de Haro Brut 2016” (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a seriously good Cava from Muga in Rioja, fermented in bottle and aged for two years just like Champagne.  As already mentioned, it was a bone-dry wine and went very well as an aperitif with the canapés,

Next up was a Riesling:  “Stepp Riesling (Trocken) 2017”  (supplied by Naked Wines).  This is a very clean and crisp wine from Pfalz in Germany and complemented the prawn salad perfectly.  The vineyard has a high limestone content resulting in high calcium content in the grapes, leading to a delicate but persistent minerality.  It’s also dry and very fruity, packing “a punch of fresh flavours” according to one reviewer.

The next two wines, one white and one red, were both served with the turkey and there was much debate as to which accompanied it best!  These wines were:

Domaine Coche-Bizouard, Meursault Ormeau 2013”   (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a dry white Burgundy produced in the Côte de Beaune sub-region.  This is a lovely wine with nicely balanced acidity.  There’s definitely some peach flavours in there and also hints of oak and vanilla.  We also found out that even though this one was around £30 a bottle (it is for Christmas dinner, after all 😊), it offers very good value for money as similar wines usually cost around 50% more!

Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru Lavières, Domaine Camus-Bruchon, 2008”   (supplied by The Wine Society).  This is a medium-bodied pinot noir wine from the Burgundy region of France.  It went very well with the turkey which isn’t a strongly flavoured meat and so needs a delicate wine which won’t over power it.  This wine is nicely mature (as shown by the orange colour at the rim), the fruit has sweetened on the nose, and the tannins are beginning to soften on the palate.  Gorgeous!

The penultimate wine saw the appearance of the long-promised “wine to go with chocolate” by Debbie Paul 😊.  To meet this challenge Debbie introduced us to a Greek dessert wine, “Samos Anthemis”, from the island of Samos.  Luscious and sweet, this rounded muscat had sumptuous hints of honey and baked-orange aromas.  On the palate it’s sweet with apricot, caramel and nutty flavours. Perfect with tarte tatin, blue cheese or chocolate!

And finally, there was the “Oscar’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port”  (supplied by Naked Wines) to go with the selection of cheeses on offer.  This is an elegant, intense, long and delicious tawny port, and its balance and refinement could easily be that of a 20 years old port.  But no, just 10!

All-in-all a very sociable and festive evening made at the Upton Village Hall.  We are there every month, so if you are interested in coming and trying an evening of tasting (most people who come have little in the way of expertise, but lots of enthusiasm) then have a look at our website ( or send our chairman a note (

Hope to see you all on 16th January for the first Wine Club meeting of 2019.


Wine Club – Taste the difference?

So often we go with what we know when it comes to selecting a bottle of wine.  This month we challenged Derek Whitmell, one of our club members to present 8 wine that were all unlikely to have been tried before and he did not disappoint!  Selecting some quality wines, all from the Wine Society (an on-line retailer who have experts recommend wines for us to try), he took us around the world to some different countries and some different grapes from countries we knew well.

Our first white was Vacqueras Blanc les Chefs d’Or 2016.  White Vacqueyras is rare yet this white Clairette blend is a speciality at Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux down in Rhone, a blend of clairette, rousanne and white grenache. This example is described as “Crisp, dry and perfectly balanced”, which goes well with oysters or fish.

Next was a Greek wine called Tetramythos Roditis Natur,2017. A whistle-clean Greek white. Slightly pink skinned variety of grape, commonly grown in Greece.  For those who were trying to pick out the flavours, they were looking for soft pear and pepper!  The Greeks helped spread wine to the rest of Europe so we have a lot to thank them for!

Our third whites was Mtsvane Georgian Dry White Schuchmann, 2017, (mtsvane  is pronounced ‘ma-ts-vay-nay’), a fresh herbal white made from the mtsvane grape.  It has a zesty freshness which would work well with your fish starter this Christmas!

We finished the whites with Tuercebotas Tempranillo Bianca, 2017, Rioja.  Many people will have tried Rioja, but few will have had a white Rioja made from the tempranillo grape (normally used to make the more common red variety).  This was a great alternative and it was nice to try a crisp white from a grape most recognised.

Reds were all equally intriguing and to save space I have briefly listed them below for reference:

Naoussa  Jeunes Vignes Thymiopoulos,  2016, Greece.  The grape was xinomavro  pronounced “tsi-noh-mavro”.  This one is worth trying chilled.

Hochar Chateau Musar 2015 from Lebanon. This is a blend of Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan.  The premier wine is normally around £28 per bottle so at just under £13 this is a good value wine (try it with a chicken tagine and apricots ).

Novac Sec, Prince Stirbey,  2015 from Romania.  This had ripe but fresh and juicy flavours which make it a very attractive red.

Lagrein Alto Adige, Hofstatter, 2016 from Italy.  Described as having a “bright vibrant, fresh, black-fruited bouquet and naturally sweet juicy flavour, with an appetising salty finish; and “A delightful example of this local north-east Italian speciality”. Lagrein is related to the more common  Pinot and syrah grapes.

All wines provided plenty of discussion and mixed with a very “sociable” evening made it another enjoyable meeting at the Upton Village Hall.    We are there every month, so if you are interested in coming and trying an evening of tasting (no experience needed!) then have a look at our website or send our chairman a note (

Hope to see you all at our special Christmas meeting on the 12th December!




Joie de Vin. come to the Wine Club

October’s meeting saw the very welcome return of one of our most popular speakers, Tim North from Joie de Vin.    The business specialises in importing remarkable French wine from very carefully selected small producers that are not available in UK supermarkets.

It was inspiring to hear Tim’s enthusiasm about the individual suppliers he uses, about their environmental ethics and their very conscientious craft production methods.    Tim deals directly with each supplier and so avoids the usual overheads of the bigger traders.   His selectivity really shows in the quality of the wines.   In total, Tim showed us 8 contrasting wines.   Although a couple were more expensive than the usual we tend to see at Wine Club, they were very good value for what they were!

Tim purposefully avoided wines he had showed us before and the obvious “bar menu” wines like Sauvignon Blanc, giving us a refreshing change.     We started off with a lovely crisp refreshing Domaine Salmon Imperial Sparkling Brut.  Going on to  whites, there was a classic, crisp, dry Touraine Chenin Blanc 2014 with subtle oak notes, a really delicious, well balanced 2017 Pinot Gris from the Loire and a very complex 2016 Macon white Burgundy to rival the fine wines from Cote D’Or, also at a very fair price.  For the reds, there was a soft, fruity 2017 Touraine Gamay, an intense 2017 Cotes de Roussillon partnering beautifully with the paté, a very rich, smooth 2015 Lussac Saint Emillion and for the big showstopper, a wonderful rich red 2015 Pomerol, drinkable on its own but also great with meat or cheese.

All the wines were extremely drinkable and hard to put down and they seemed to go down a storm.  I personally enjoyed them all and would recommend a look at this business if you weren’t able to come along to the meeting.     Certainly, there were a lot of order forms going in at the end of the evening at the special discounted price!

Please see more details of last night’s wine at the Upton Wine Appreciation Society website or follow us on twitter at @UptonWine

Any queries about membership or coming along to a future meeting, please don’t hesitate to contact our Chairman Ian at    A big welcome to our new members this month – we really hope you enjoyed the night.   It was great to see you there.

The next meeting is on 21st November 2018 at 8pm.  As always, everyone welcome!



Wine Club go Back to Basics

The start of a new season for the Upton Wine Appreciation Club and proof that no matter how long you have been enjoying your wine, it’s never too late to remind yourself about which grape is your favourite!

For September we tried some single grape variety wines to remind all members of the wide variety of tastes and to give everyone a steer on which wines to select when next buying a bottle.  It is more unusual to get a single grape of wine these days, more common is a blend however, the opportunity to  pick up that single flavour as a base marker, really helps for perhaps more complex wines to come later in the year!

Following a routine AGM where last year’s committee and Chairman were elected back in for a further year we took a look at our first wine, a typical French Sauvignon Blanc.  Like many grapes it depends on where it is grown and how it is made that influences the taste.  Looking at the colour, smell and of course taste we judged this wine against other whites made from the Chardonnay and Riesling grape.  For the reds we looked at Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

The beauty of a wine is that there are so many flavours which creates many opinions.  All the wines tasted can be found on the Upton Wine Club’s website . If you would like to try just two then we would recommend The Society’s Saar Riesling 2015 (£10.50), a classic taste for Riesling and something that would go well with any spicy dish due to it’s naturally low alcohol volume.  For the red we recommend the Society’s Red Burgundy 2017 (£9.95).  For a Pinot Noir, this is great value and will go well with a warming sausage casserole or some lamb!  Both wines can be purchased from the Wine Society.

Next month we have invited Joie de Vin back to talk about some real gems from France that you will not find in any supermarket.  These proved a real hit last year!  If you would like to join the wine club or just come along and try it for an evening then please drop an email to our Chairman:   The October meeting is on the 17th between 8pm – 10pm, we hope to see you there!

Ian Langley (Chairman)