Wine … and More

  The aim of this group is to bring wine lovers together, to learn about the fascinating world of wine, spirits and more. The evenings are informative, fun and convivial. This is therapy of the liquid kind!
 
  We will learn how to taste and to discover new and unusual wines, as well as appreciating new facts about well-known wines.
 
  The tastings are tutored by Luisa Welch, a wine educator who holds the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma in Wine and Spirits. Luisa is also a wine judge at international competitions and a freelance wine writer. She is supported by Vivienne Smith, who has had a keen interest in wine for many years, has toured many wine regions around the world, and actively attends wine events. We also plan to offer visits to restaurants, trips to vineyards … and much more.
 
  Join us and discover the joys of good imbibing! The cost will be in the region of £15 per person, to include 5 or 6 quality wines for the tasting, plus two bottles for drinking afterwards, when a light buffet supper will be provided by our host. Glasses, jugs, and crackers are all included in the cost. You are invited to bring your own notebook and pen.
 
  As costs are incurred in advance in buying the wine and food, it is important that members are prepared to commit to attending regularly
 

 
  Group Conveners : Luisa Welch and Vivienne Smith
 

The Group meets in Muswell Hill, N10 on the third Thursday of every month, from 7 p.m.

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Our tastings

September 2020
 


 
What is the Mediterranean Basin? Geographically speaking, it is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters, and hot, dry summers, the ideal climate for Mediterranean forests, woodlands – and vineyards. It covers portions of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
 
In terms of wines, think of the very southern tip of Italy – Calabria, Puglia and the Island of Sicily. Think of Greece and this country’s rich array of wines, including the wonderfully fresh Assyrtiko white wine from Santorini or from the mainland. Think of Turkey or Lebanon and its gorgeous Chateau Musar – where Bordeaux meets Arabian nights – the most indulgent, sensuous flavours which you will not easily forget. Think of the South East of Spain, Valencia and Malaga in particular, and the wonderful wines easily available from these areas.
 
Waving goodbye to summer, members of the Wine … and More Group shared, via Zoom, some gorgeous wines from South Italy, Spain and Lebanon, such as Terre di Faiano Nero D’Avola Appassimento 2019, Vermentino di Sardegna 2019, Hochar 2017, the second wine from Chateau Musar in Lebanon from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, made entirely from the Cinsault grape, a wonderful Retsina of Attiki Kourtaki and a Tsantali Cabinet Sauvignon Private Collection both from Greece, and a Monastrell Tragolargo 2019 from Alicante, Spain.

August 2020
 
Some 12 castaways met virtually last week, each shipwrecked on their own desert island, but with a good supply of wine. What did they manage to salvage? Some salvaged Condrieu, the top white wine from Northern Rhone, some a great Malbec from Argentina, some a good Prosecco, to be chilled in the sea of course. And then, we also brought our fantasy wine, the one we would quite happily spend months on end sipping on the island. And there was also a Vino del Nonno, ‘grandfather’s wine’, the one made from one’s own small family vineyard, in your small cellar, just for the family, totally natural and genuine. To be drank young, as you need to make room for next year’s wine! Not surprisingly, it was Dom Perignon Champagne, Krug Champagne, Barolos and Chateau Latour 1961! What a fun tasting that was, and open to all members of the Wine… and More Group.

July 2020
 
SHHH….. IT’S RIESLING!
 
Deliciously fresh and aromatic, Riesling is without question Germany’s top grape. It originated in the Rhine region of Germany, and the best are said to grow along the banks of the Mosel river on the beautiful steep, south facing hills. It has become a bit of a superstar of the white wine world, and not just in Germany. There is a lot of scope for versatility – it’s not ‘sweet’ as many people may think, although you will find hints of tropical fruit and nectarines. Basically, if you like Sauvignon Blanc and if you like Viognier, you will like Riesling. That’s why our tasting was called ‘Shhh…. It’s Riesling!!’ (meaning: don’t tell everyone because I am drinking a best kept secret!). And just look at the label in this picture, there is a Riesling called just that – from the Coop in Crouch End at the amazing price of £6. However, Riesling as a grape is planted in many parts of the world, and you will find good Riesling wines from Australia (Clare Valley and Tasmania), Italy (where it’s called Riesling Italico), Austria, France of course (Alsace) and even from Washington State and California, without forgetting Eastern Europe. On the night via Zoom we tasted a good variety of Rieslings, especially from Germany, Austria and Australia. Couple it with Asian food, sushi, or Parma ham & melon, and you have a match made in heaven – or better, on your plate!

June 2020
 
We welcomed the Summer Solstice with a great selection of summer stunners.
 
With the emphasis on rosé wines, tipped to be an even bigger thing this summer than they were last year, we homed into ‘classic’ rosés; from Europe.
 
From a pink sparkling from Frexinet, to the brand new Kylie, the roseé from Provence by Kylie Minogue and selling at £9 in Tesco, we had an adventurous tasting with 18 people participating on Zoom.
 
Perfect with summer foods and great as aperitifs, roseé wines are still largely the unappreciated and unrecognised siblings of the white and red wine world. During the session, we broadened the perspective and dispelled some of the myths surrounding roseé wines during this tasting – such as: does the colour matter? Is it worth keeping rose’ for years? Should I buy French?
 
We explored Pink Primitivo from Puglia, we talked about the English Sparkling Roséfrom Lyme Bay in Devon, found in Aldi at £9 and worth every mouthful, and Pink Garnacha from Spain. A night to remember!

May 2020
 
Wamkeleikile!!!! Wine … And More welcomes #SpectacularSouthAfrica
 

 
We said Wamkeleikile at the start of our Zoom wine tasting a few days ago, the Xhosa word meaning ‘welcome’ as we celebrated, in our own way, one of the yearly events, Spectacular South Africa when South African wines are in the spotlight. Were bars and restaurants open, many would have them on promotion. But we did it our way and had a great time with 16 people joining on Zoom, to present their bottles. From iconic Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, the classic grapes of South Africa, to wines made from international grapes and some skilful blends, we had a super tasting. Our member Luke Crawley prepared a very informative introduction, as he had been to South Africa, and Vivienne Smith, who had also visited several wineries, made us all jealous recounting her wonderfuk experiences. A most enjoyable and successful wine tasting!
 
Spanish Wines
 

The Wine…and More Group held their third tasting over Zoom exploring a new wine producing country, with a spotlight on Spanish wines. With around 14 members joining in the fun over two Zoom sessions, one after the other, a really good and interesting choice of wines was brought to the ‘party’. From Albarino Rias Baixas to a Monastrell from Yeca Valley in Alicante (which is of course the same grape as Mourvedre, just by another name) these wines rub shoulders with classic Rioja, including the Cepa Alegro 2012 and 2013, as well as an interesting Shiraz from Valencia. Even a map of the Spanish wine regions was provided on Zoom! What a rich, informative and fun experience we had, and we were done in time to go on the balcony and clap for the workers!
 
Yesterday evening was a lovely way to spend some time. Thank you so much for organising it. Even when we had to “change ends” at 7.00 pm it all went off without too much trouble.
 
Muchas gracias, Luisa. It was a fun evening and SO lovely to see so many of our friends and fellow wine lovers. Thanks for another very interesting evening Luisa and fellow wine connoisseurs
 
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for organising the wine tasting again on Thursday it’s really kind of you to do so.
 
You did very well to keep calm when everyone was talking over one another. I assure you my hand was raised when I wanted to speak! I look forward to the next one if there is one.
 
What a lovely early evening that was !! Thank you so much Luisa. Roll on the next one.  Best wishes everyone.

April 2020
 
The second Zoom wine tasting focused on Italian wines, and what an excellent variety we had. Everyone made an effort to source something interesting or special, from vintage Barolo to Broglia Gavi di Gavi, from Primitivo Appassimento to Pinot Grigio Blush. We learnt how the ‘blush’ of Pinot Grigio comes from the prolonged skin contact, not from a red grapet!. We learnt how he Appassimento method (the drying of a percentage of all grapes picked for making the wine, which are then added a a later stage to give the finished wine a richer, smoother, velvety finish). We also learnt that the Primitivo grape, originally from Puglia, is also known in California as Zinfandel. (Although the Californians would prefer to think that it’s an indigenous grape, but think of all the Italians who emigrated to America, the one thing they brought with them was vine stock!) With 19 people attending our second Zoom tasting, the group that ‘tastes together, stays together’. Till next time, glasses at the ready, Salute!

March 2020
 
What can I say? We are simply epic. Trailblazers of the new Zoom way of meeting, we did not let the lockdown preventing us from meeting. But tasting wines over the internet? It was a challenge, but we raised to it. We set a theme for this first virtual tasting, Chardonnay, an easy-to-find, popular and accessible wine. Bottle open, glass in hand, members logged into Zoom and we all raised a glass of our own own Chardonnay, sharing tasting notes. And what a great selection. Chardonnay from North West Italy, from the classic Burgundy are of France, with some lovely Macon wines, Chardonnay from the new world. You did us proud, Wine…and More group. It was fun, it was uplifting and it got us together. Zoom is a new platform for many, and despite a few hitches for this first meeting, we all persevered! The second virtual tasting is already booked on Zoom. See you there, glass in hand!

February 2020
 

 
The Group took a leap in the dark at the February tasting, when wines were tasted blind and participants had to identify the wines, based on the knowledge gained by regularly attending the monthly events. We called it ‘Chateaux Noir’. The principles of See, Swirl, Sniff and Sip were applied, there were some intense moments but also much amusement. And for good measure, we also had a quiz. And then the big reveal, to crown the overall winner, Luke Crawley. Roslyn Byfield also did very well by identifying the vast majority of the grapes. And if this was not enough, we also celebrated a Danielle’s birthday, which gave us cause to open an extra bottle of bubbly! That’s a wine tasting to remember!

January 2020
 

 
It was wine (and flowers) all round for the Wine…and More Group first tasting of the year – and no, we did not do Dry January …
 
We kicked off in style with a guest speaker from Wines of Hungary UK, the lovely Zsouzsa Toronji who presented several wines made with that superlative grape which is Furmint. Perhaps still little known in the UK, but becoming more available by the day. Even Sainsbury’s stocks one! Worth giving it a go.
 
We presented Zsouzsa with a bouquet of flowers for the time she gave us. And then, we presented our own member Danielle, with another bouquet of flowers to thank her for making her home available for our Christmas Party in December. What a start to the new year! Good things are in store for the Wine…and More Group this year.

December 2019
 
All the ingredients were in place for the Wine …and More Group Christmas event. Great hospitality, great food and of course, it goes without saying, great wines. What else? Macon Aze’, Cune Rioja, Bordeaux Superior, Moulin de Lugny were just some of the gems tasted on the night. With much banter, many stories, and many cheers to a year which saw the most interesting tastings, from visits to urban wineries and artisanal brewers, to exploring the world of Bordeaux and learning about volcanic wines, to restaurant visits.

November 2019
 
No wine for the Wine … and More Group at the Bohem Tap Room! Instead, our first beer tasting – but not just any ordinary beer, but artisan Czech beer brewed by Czechs in Myddelton Road, Bowes Park. We were taken through the full range, from Victoria to Amos, Sparta, Smoked Sparta (excellent), Raven (a favourite) Slavia and Prototype. Look at those amazing colours.
 

 
It was great to have so many ladies tasting and appreciating the different flavours and we all learnt so much. Our server showed us how to float dark beer on top of a light beer, and he also pulled a special pint of Milko, a dense foam which is a speciality. Another beer anyone?
 
Our wine tasting compared the old and the new, or grapes around the world, to taste the difference between a classic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and a new one from Marlborough New Zealand; a classic Chardonnay from Burgundy and a new style of Chardonnay from California; a classic Syrah from the Rhone and the new Shiraz from Australia; and a classic Pinot Noir from Burgundy and the one from Sonoma Valley. A fascinating tour in eight wines, with so many positive comments. Cheers!

October 2019
 
Blue of the Danube

 
The Wine…and More group arranged for members to attend a very special tasting in the stunning surroundings of Merchant Taylors Hall, one of the twelve great Livery Companies in the City, which hosted the inaugural event for Hungary Wines UK. Called Blue of the Danube, there were over 200 wines to taste from 40 different producers – the wines were a revelation for many.
 
Bordeaux de-mystified
 
Notoriously expensive, the wines of Bordeaux are a mystery to many, as the classifications can be difficult to understand, and few appreciate the differences between wines from the left bank and the right bank.
 
At the October monthly meeting of the Wine … More Group, we set out to demystify the whites, reds and dessert wines of Bordeaux, with some sterling examples all below £25.00, and with an average price of £15.00. Not an easy task, but we did it!
 
The great whites from Entre-Deux-Mers, the soft reds of St Emilion, the structured reds of the Graves, the luscious wines of Margaux, and a splendid Sauternes, were all there to taste and appreciate.
 
What an evening. That was the tasting that was! And so many good comments, including someone who rushed out the following morning and cleared the shelves of a particular wine …

… a special thank you for the amazing evening on Thursday, I learnt so much and while shopping today, I bought the Sauternes at Waitrose. – CH
 
Thank you Luisa for all your work collating notes for us so that we might understand and enjoy the complexity and difference between grapes and the resulting wine. Our group so enjoy what you do. Thank you Vivienne, we all love your recipes and how they compliment the chosen wines … EC
 
Most enjoyable last night! Great learning and great fun! Thank you. – DR
 
A big, huge thank you … for such a marvellous tasting session last night. Everyone must have really got into the spirit as we all know that closing time is 9.30 but last night it was steamrollered! I have just got home from Waitrose in Holloway. I left it till late just in case you went there and I would loathe to swipe such gorgeous reds from you! I bought, as gifts for wine enthusiast pals, their last 2 bottles of Chateau Moulin de Curat … – LH

September 2019
 
Wine tasting at Chapel Down, London
 

 
When one can’t go to the winery in Kent, the winery comes to you in London! What a splendid evening the Wine .. and More Group enjoyed in the distilling and tasting room of Chapel Down on the Regent’s Canal. Laura and Annie took us through their best wines, including the prized sparkling Brut, the sparkling Rose’ Brut, (served at William and Kate’s wedding, although we are not allowed to officially say so …), Tenterden Estate Bacchus 2018 and the award winning Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2016 – fantastic quality. We also tasted the special Orange Bacchus 2017 and their Pinot Noir 2016. And look at that silver bowl, called the Camilla Parker Bowl, as it was made especially for her on her visit to the vineyard. One of best wine outings yet, everyone said!

August 2019
 

 
All wine and no whine! The Wine…and More group went to La’ De Kitchen restaurant in Muswell Hill at the end of August, at least all those who were not away from London! We celebrated the height of summer with a delicious Mediterranean meal and some great Turkish wines, new to many in the group, but enjoyed by one and all!

June 2019
 

 
It was urban escape this month, with a visit to Renegade Wines, the urban winery in Bethnal Green which is making news, literally, with great write ups about its wines in Metro and in The Independent (you heard it here first, because we are in the know!). It was a sunny, warm evening and we enjoyed the hospitality of Warwick Smith, the founder and brainchild of Renegade, with its leading edge wine making techniques which produce some stunning results. We tasted a range of sparkling, whites and reds made from some of the best grapes from around the world, most coming from small, organic vineyards. We loved the Sauvignon Blanc, the English Sparkling, and the Cabernet from the barrel – it was not even bottled, and we wanted more! A most unusual evening, enjoyed by all.

Photographs ©️ Roslyn Byfield

May 2019
 

 
Our Wine … and More group seems to get better every time we meet. This month we tasted premium wines, including the best Macon Lugny, superb Chorey Les Beune Burgundy and a fabulous Chateauneuf Du Pape, from famed producers such as Joseph Drouhin and Louis Latour, with prices usually out of reach, but affordable when shared with everyone. The Gruner Veltliner from Austria was much loved, whilst the Pegasus Riesling from New Zealand took many by surprise. And that little gem, Tanit, from the Alexandria Muscat grape from Sicily to round off the evening … This is what a member said:
 
It was an evening with a special buzz – don’t you think? Wonderful wines Luisa, and you brought each one alive. Life would be exciting if we could harness your enthusiasm. And Vivienne, as you always do, make us at home and relaxed, as well as putting out delicious things to eat. I can only imagine the shopping and cooking behind the scenes! There was something tonight, as we make friends, mutual interests and all thanks to you priceless duo

April 2019
 
Thanks to our gracious hostess, Vivienne, and Luisa (in absentia) for a fun BYO wine tasting. We all brought a bottle we thought would interest the group and took turns in saying a bit about our chosen wines, which included a Picpoul de Pinet (now becoming more popular), a Romanian pinot grigio, two very pale and interesting roses, a 2017 Crozes Hermitage (Northern Rhone), a New Zealand pinot noir and a rioja which was unusual for using the grenache rather than the usual tempranillo grape. Lively conversations continued over a delicious supper – altogether a lovely evening.

March 2019
 

 
An explosive tasting! Wines from volcanic soils are rich in minerals and have a distinct sapidity like the splendid Atlantis Assyrtiko from Santorini and the Nerello Mascalese from Etna. And that amazing Grecula from Mount Vesuvius which everyone enjoyed. Not to mention the wines from Argentina and Chile, the latter with over 2,900 volcanos – did you know?? Empty bottles, full glasses, and a great supper at Vivienne’s home.
 
Thank you Luisa for a splendid evening last night, everyone learnt a lot – VS
Yet again, last evening was a wonderful lesson in wine appreciation … – DR
Luisa, thank you for a marvellous evening last night. Everyone had such a good time – as seen by the late hour of departure – EH

February 2019
 

 
The Wine … and More Group finds ways of beating the winter blues with an outing at restaurant and wine shop Connubio in Muswell Hill. Here is Fabio the owner with convenors Luisa and Vivienne welcoming a very large group, to include both the main and reserve groups, to the tasting. We tasted three indigenous grape varieties from Italy paired with specially selected dishes. A great event to bring event to bring everyone together and enjoy the conviviality of the group.

January 2019
 

 
Our fabulous, and I mean Absolutely Fabulous, first tasting of the year. Detox or Retox? We did them both of course! We tasted a range of extra virgin olive oils and members of the group enjoyed learning how to taste olive oil, and discovering nuances of tomato, thistle, artichoke, grass in the oils. We loved detoxing. But we soon were into retoxing with rare sherries and rare ports, and warming Spanish and Portuguese wines before a light supper of Spanish inspired dishes. That’s the way to start January for Wine … and More.
 

December 2018
 

 
The Wine…and More Group rang in the festivities with an all-sparkling event, discovering life beyond Prosecco, with a tasting of Champagnes, Cremants, even with a highly rated sparkling from Tasmania, and our own English sparkling wines. All washed down with plenty of festive food! Roll on the new year. Shall we detox or retox???/h3>

November 2018
 
The Wine…and More group celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day with a tasting of 7 different wines from the region, followed by a French-inspired supper. Here are some of the wines that put us in a great mood for the night …
 

October 2018
 

 
“I knew nothing at all about wine and this Wine and More session was really welcoming to all levels. It was cram packed full of interesting facts on the 8 wines from Italy tasted (drunk!), both white and red. It helped in understanding my own preferences and also why others prefer different wines. We learnt about why Italian wines are named the way they are, and about the 4 denominations. I am going to Italy in two weeks’ time and now I will be able to choose wines with some proper understanding.” – EH.
 
“I very much enjoyed the event last night, it was informative and pleasurable, and thanks to our host’s warmth and hospitality, and your lively presentation, felt like an evening shared with friends.” – JH.
 
“Thank you for a marvellous instructive and convivial evening. You brought the mysteries of wine to life and even local shops that supply! Vivienne’s supper was delicious. Naturally, I would love to come to the November gathering, so please count me in! Sincere thanks.”- EC.