Being married to Mr Christmas (not his real name, obviously) means the tree is up and the Christmas playlist is on repeat. Has been since Sunday. It also means that we’ve made a start on the presents which, given that there are three children, twelve nieces and nephews and a number of godchildren to think about, requires a certain amount of planning. There is a spreadsheet. You may will laugh, but without my spreadsheet, I’d get present-tense. Someone did ask me today for a great wine book recommendation and happily, it’s a no-brainer. This one, The World Atlas of Wine, written by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. Now on its 7th edition, it’s stuffed full of maps and information on wine-making regions. A proper reference book and a real favourite of mine. Widely available, including here for under £20.

I’ve written about wine accessories before but there’s one other gift that I do rather love. A lady called Lidi emailed recently to ask if I had any corks she could have, to make pin boards. Given that we’ve run out of space on the fridge for letters about nativity plays/concerts/calls for mince pies from school, I’m putting one on my wish list. Lidi has kindly offered one as a prize here, worth £30! Usual thing – leave your name here and someone* will pick a winner out of a hat next week.

Current white in the fridge: Domäne Wachau ‘Terraces’ Grüner Veltliner 2012, £9.99, Waitrose
Having tasted my way through a gorgeous line up of Austrian whites made from the Gruner Veltliner grape at the International Wine Challenge last week, it reminded me go and buy this one again. Peachy, with a sprinkling of spice, I tell you. And the steep slopes on the banks of the Danube is the place to get really good Gruner. Well, Waitrose in this case, but you know what I mean. One for roast chicken. 

Current red in the rack: Chianti Classico Riserva 2009, £8.99, Aldi
One of the wines in Aldi’s Exquisite Collection range, it’s lovely. Happily drinkable with bright cherry fruit flavours so typical of the Sangiovese-dominated wines of Chianti. The name Classico on the label tells us that it’s from the better quality-rated subregion and the word Riserva tells us it’s been aged for at least a few years before being released. Think mellow and medium-bodied. Drinking this whilst curled up on the sofa with a blanket over your knees greatly adds to the enjoyment. A plate of strong, hard cheese makes it exquisite. 

*My Mother (and her decision is final). Other T&Cs:
1.  Competition closes on 9th December 2013 at 11.59pm
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.

Please note I received a copy of Wine Atlas 7th Edition to review, but own two previous editions such is my love for this book. 

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  1. Hi Helen, hope you are keeping well

    Book is on my Christmas list, would love the cork notice board ! I've got a couple of hundred corks sitting in an old vase, usually make some Xmas decorations with them.

    Have a good Christmas
    Dave (spikedc)

  2. Ooh I've just bought that Gruner. Good times!

  3. Love a good spreadsheet though Christmas this year has gone another direction for us with a decision to buy very little indeed. Having left our city jobs and 'gone back to the drawing board' in search of a more fulfilling existence we are now living on a tiny budget in Athens, Greece. In fact I posted some ideas on giving at Christmas here:

    Thanks for the wonderful blog – you inspired me to start blogging about our own adventure – and of course for the great wine suggestions which sadly I can no longer sample from here. Any recommendations on Greek wines very welome!

  4. Morning Helen, just leaving a note to enter the comp. Have been drinking much more Gruner recently, notably a Yealands last week at Brown's in Cambridge. Very nice.

    Have a good Christmas

    Carole Hazlehurst (IWC)

  5. My 'spreadsheets' tend to be on the back of envelopes (bigger than fag packets after all). The cork board looks lovely; if I fail to get picked out I will just have to start saving my corks to make my own.

  6. I love your corkboard! It's inspired me to collect corks and create one, although will have to upgrade my tastes as so many bottles are screw tops now.

  7. I always wanted to make myself a corkboard. I started saving corks, put them all in a bag, then promptly lost the bag. I should maybe try again, see if I can make one in time for my son going off to University (hopefully) next October. That should give me plenty of drinking time 🙂

  8. Storing your wine is an important part of the process. If your wine is not kept in the right temperature, it might spoil. So before we discuss actual wine accessories, we will discuss the use of a wine cooler or wine racks to store your wine.

    Wine Accessories Australia

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