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Tag Archives: sparkling wine

  • Christmas Wine Pairing

    Which wines will you be serving?

    We spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas lunch or dinner. Here are some Christmas wine pairing suggestions for the Christmas celebrations to save you time wondering which wines to serve.


     

    Aperitif

    Pol Roger Brut Champagne NV
    £39.00

    A bottle of Pol Roger Champagne

    Champagne or Sparkling Wine is a very accommodating wine and can be served as an aperitif or with any course of your menu.

    The Brut Réserve is a blend in equal parts of the three champenois grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Served at Prince William and Prince Harry's weddings, Pol Roger is very reasonably priced at £39 per bottle. Available in a gift box.


     

    Turkey

    GlenWood Grand Duc Chardonnay 2015
    £40.00

    A bottle of GlenWood Grand Duc Chardonnay 2015

    Beautifully crafted with pure and precise flavours of yellow stone fruit, dried mango, nuts and vanilla. A crisp elegant structure with a long lingering soft finish. Full oaking but integrated perfectly.


     

    Gammon

    Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2016
    £17.99

    A bottle of Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2016

    A light Pinot with sweet clove and black cherry aromas. Sweet spice, smoky, leather and black plum flavours on the palate, all beautifully balanced.


     

    Fish

    Orange River Chenin Blanc 2018
    £7.49

    orange_chenin_web

    A pale yellow hue with a subtle green tinge. Dry white offering delicious flavours of pear, litchi and guava. Very easy drinking and smooth.


     

    Dessert

    Chateau Filhot Grand Cru Classe Sauternes 2009 (375ml)
    £23.50

    A bottle of Chateau Filhot Grand Cru Classe Sauternes 2009

    A luxurious Sauternes from Bordeaux with a silky mouthfeel, slightly sticky, apricots and peaches, lychee and hints of eucalyptus.


     

    Mixed case

    Luxury Christmas Selection (6 bottles)
    £245.00

    A half case of luxury Christmas wines

    Six bottles are included in this luxury selection of Christmas wines:
    Pol Roger Brut Champagne NV
    Giles Morat Sur La Roche Pouilly Fuisse 2016
    Glenwood Grand Duc Chardonnay 2015
    Robert Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
    Caro Baron de Rothschild 2014
    Chateau Filhot Grand Cru Classe Sauternes 2009 (375ml)


     

    If you want to select only one or two wines for your Christmas celebration, we recommend a Pinot Noir and a Sparkling wine. Overall, Pinot Noir pairs well with most light and dark meats and a variety of dishes. And of course, who can enjoy a celebratory meal without Sparkling wine!

  • Five Fun Itinerary Ideas - Cape Winelands

    It's the start of the summer season in South Africa and that means it's the time of year that visitors from the UK make their way to the Cape Winelands. Here are five must do's to add to any itinerary when visiting Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

    Picnics at Mont Rochelle

    In addition to the Country Kitchen and Miko Restaurant, Mont Rochelle offers delicious picnics baskets. Two adults can share a basket that includes cheeses, charcuteries, salads, wraps and more (especially the delicious dessert). Kids under 12 receive their own basket with a child-appropriate menu.

    For more information, visit Mont Rochelle's website here.

    MCC and canapes at Le Lude

    We always have time for bubbles and the perfect spot to enjoy a tasting of Method Cap Classique is at Le Lude in Franschhoek. Their enchanting and beautiful setting complements their wonderful wines and their canape tasting is definitely worth trying. Le Lude offers three canape options, including a selection for vegetarians.

    The rose garden at Le Lude

    While at Le Lude, make sure you take in their glorious rose garden and the views across the surrounding Franschhoek mountains.

    For more information, visit Le Lude's website here.

    Find Wine and Food Pairing at GlenWood

    The tranquil setting at GlenWood is the perfect backdrop for a very innovative tasting experience. On arrival, you will be presented with a specifically designed tasting palette offering six tastings that compliment six of GlenWood's wines. After tasting, select your lunch main course from your favourite tasting and a glass of wine to accompany it.

    GlenWood Fine Wine and Food Experience

    You will not be disappointed by this perfectly planned and prepared tasting! The exquisite wines and the delicious meals accompanying them are not to be missed.

    Learn more on the GlenWood website here.

    Horseback Wine Tasting at Rickety Bridge and Mont Rochelle

    This is one for the horse lovers among us! Beginner or advanced, this experience will be one you thoroughly enjoy.

    The wine tasting on horseback experience begins at Paradise Stables and lasts around four hours. You pass GlenWood and ride towards Rickety Bridge where you will stop for a wine tasting. After that, it's back on the horses and on to Mont Rochelle for another wine tasting.

    Horseback wine tour stopping at Rickety Bridge

    Such beautiful vistas surround you on this unique tasting and excellent wines await you at each stop. You will be so pleased you included this on your itinerary.

    For more information, visit Paradise Stables' website here.

    Duck Parade and Saturday Market at Vergenoegd

    The very first vineyard at the start of the Stellenbosch Winelands, closest to Cape Town, is the Vergenoegd Low Wine Estate. Along with very good wines, they also have a very novel parade by their pest controlling Indian Runner Ducks a few times a day.

    Vergenoegd Duck Parade

    Each Saturday, Vergenoegd hosts a market from 9am until 3pm, offering crafts, food, beverages, wine tastings and live entertainment. If fitness is your thing, then why not start Saturday off with an early morning run at 8am, hosted by Vergenoegd.

    For more information on these and other activities offered by Vergenoegd, visit their website here.

    There are so many other activities to enjoy when visiting the Cape Winelands. Are there any others you are looking forward to when visiting? Let us know and we can feature those on an upcoming blog post.

  • Win a Case of South African Sparkling Wines

    To celebrate summer, we are giving away a selection of some of the best sparkling wines South Africa has to offer!

    All six bottles are produced using the Methode Cap Classique process used in producing Champagne. The result is top quality Sparkling Wines with a fine mousse and lots of flavour.

    Enter by clicking here.

     


     

    The six bottle mixed case includes:

    - Pierre Jourdan Brut
    - Klein Constantia Brut
    - Le Lude Brut
    - Lanzerac Blanc de Blancs
    - Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose
    - Stony Brook Bailey Rose

    Enter our South African Sparkling Wine Competition now to stand a chance to win this case of excellent SA Sparkling Wines!

    Click here to enter online.

    If you can't wait for the competition to end, you can purchase your own case here for a discounted price of £100!


     

    Competition is open to UK residents only. You must be over 18 to enter. No purchase necessary. Competition closes 31 August 2018. See full Terms and Conditions when you enter.

  • New Domaines Vinsmoselle Wines In Stock!

    Hard To Find Wines is delighted to announce the arrival of new wines from Domaines Vinsmoselle in Luxembourg!

    Domaines Vinsmoselle is a co-operative of wineries founded in 1921, situated in the Moselle Valley in Luxembourg.

    Although less well known than other European winemaking regions, Luxembourg produces high-quality, Alsatian-style wines. Primarily white grape varietals are grown, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Auxerrois. However, Pinot Noir is also grown to produce supple, fruity red wines and some sparkling wine blends.

    The rising star amongst Luxembourg wines is Cremant de Luxembourg, a sparkling wine produced using traditional methods. Only grapes grown in Luxembourg are allowed to bear this designation.


    Save 10% on your order of any of our Domaines Vinsmoselle wines!

    Place your order by Sunday, 2 September and received a 10% discount.


    Poll Fabaire Cuvee Schengen Brut
    £14.41
    Was £15.99

    A bottle of Domaines Vinsmoselle Poll Fabaire Brut

    The label "Cremant de Luxembourg" was introduced in 1991. The appellation "Cremant" refers to bottle-fermented sparkling wines made from grapes grown in certain French wine-producing areas that are not in the Champagne region. The grapes for the Poll Fabraire Brut come from the Schengen region and have gone through the traditional double fermentation process to produce a wonderful sparkling wine with lively bubbles and a crisp dry finish.

    Edmond de la Fontaine Pinot Noir 2016
    £16.21

    Was £17.99

    A bottle of Domaines Vinsmoselle Chateau Edmond de la Fontaine Pinot Noir

    A brilliant ruby red in the glass. Its nose is spicy with notes of sour cherry and wild berries, coupled with hints of chocolate and vanilla. On the palate, this wine is full, warm and fruity. Its balanced structure and well wrapped-up tannins give it its distinctive personality.

    Elbling Rose 2017
    £9.00

    Was £9.99

    21127x30_Elbling Vin Rosé AOP 75cl sans millésime

    A fresh and lively, beautifully light rose with only 10.5% alcohol. Cherry and strawberry aromas, hints of grenadine in the nose characterize this salmon-coloured rose. Cherry aromas remain present on the palate. An easy-drinking rose that goes well with every occasion.

    Pinot Gris Premier Cru 2017
    £12.60
    Was £13.99

    A bottle of Domaines Vinsmoselle Pinot Gris Premier Cru

    A typical Pinot Gris, full-bodied, concentrated and aromatic with aromas of smoke, spice, honey, and leather. A full-bodied, complex palate.

    Rivaner 2017
    £9.00
    Was £9.99

    A bottle of Domaines Vinsmoselle Rivaner

    A delicate palate of green apple and ripened melon. Refreshing and light, this white wine is perfect when paired with salads and fish dishes.


    Save 10% on your order of any of our Domaines Vinsmoselle wines!

    Place your order by Sunday, 2 September and received a 10% discount.

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  • Le Lude Part 1: Where Mathematics & Mystique Meet

    Paul Gerber, winemaker at Le Lude, was teaching mathematics when he got married. “Within a few months of getting married, I convinced my wife to let me go and study oenology at Stellenbosch.”

    When he finished, he specialised in bottle-fermented sparkling wine and worked in Northern Italy, Champagne in France and Germany. On his return to South Africa he did an internship at Graham Beck. This is where he met Nic and Ferda Barrows in 2011.

    The Barrows bought a property in Franschhoek, and they had a very specific vision of creating a specialist Methode Cap Classique cellar. They offered Paul a job and the rest is history.

    Le Lude is a real family affair. The interiors are done by Ferda and the Barrow’s one daughter, Olga, an interior designer. Their other daughter, Nicolene, trained as a chef in Europe and worked in London at La Gavroche for two years before returning and opening Orangerie, the restaurant at Le Lude.

    The Le Lude Approach

    Paul takes a traditional approach to making sparkling wine and uses all the traditional cultivars, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.  He says, “I don’t see Champagne or for that matter Cap Classique that comes from various areas losing terroir identity. It’s everything but: each component brings something specific to the blend and therein maintaining terroir. The bigger definition of terroir encompasses the philosophy from the region, from the winemaking family and that’s all so much more than just a piece of soil. I think terroir is much deeper than just the soil and we need to see it as this more complex matrix, together.”

    “For me the characteristics in Champagne and bottle-fermented sparkling wine are the length of the wine, the texture on the palate, the finesse and the elegance of the wine. It’s not a big wine. White wines, red wines, they’re the extroverts of the wine world. They give you a lot, whereas Champagne, there’s a bit of mystique there. The nose gives you complexity, but it’s not an exuberant aroma. And the same on the palate. It should start softly and build and that complexity is built with many fine layers. Almost like little pieces of rice paper, that together make something big and full but on their own as they lift up they pull away easily. That is how we see this style of wine.”

    A photo of the view of Franschhoek and vineyards from Le Lude

    Paul told us about how his background in mathematics has influenced his approach to producing Le Lude’s wines. “Cap Classique is a process driven wine and in some way mathematics is process driven. It’s about solving problems, having a systematic approach to doing that. These wines love that. It’s not just about ticking the boxes, it’s about ticking the little boxes in between those boxes. Every decision you make in the vineyard, every decision in the winery has an impact on the bubble that’s going to rise in the glass one day. If you keep that in mind, it means that you look at the wine completely differently when going through the process.”

    When asked about the difference between Champagne and South African MCC, Paul said, “With South African Cap Classique, you should taste the ripeness and fullness. This gives the wine texture and persistence but at the same time it remains elegant with finesse.”

    “Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck says you can taste the sun in the fruit. You taste the ripeness in the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay in South African grapes but you still want the finesse of the wine. That’s the characteristics that we see as important for Champagne: finesse, elegance, length. And we want to have all of those ripe fruit characters because that’s our terroir. In Champagne you’re going to have fresh lemon, lime, fresh zesty character. Here you’re going to have a little bit more lemon meringue, or creamy lemon tart. So you are still going to have that ripe, rich flavour, but it’s just that little bit riper.”

    Non-vintage Wines

    Le Lude Brut NV

    A bottle of Le Lude Brut

    The Brut is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The idea behind the Brut is to highlight the character of the Chardonnay. A little Pinot Noir is added to give a bit of width and density to the palate.

    Tasting notes: elegant citrus blossoms with fresh lime aromas and secondary aromas of nougat, roasted nuts and hints of proving dough. Bright, fresh and elegant palate entry. Aromas of grapefruit, ripe lemon and pear forms a structured mid-palate. The mousse shows finesse and texture with a restrained presence. Length develops delicately on the palate with fine tertiary aromas of caramelised honey, vanilla and dried fig.

    Le Lude Rose NV

    A bottle of Le Lude Rose

    The Brut Rose is to display the character of the Pinot Noir. Paul uses a little Chardonnay in the blend for brightness. The Rose is bigger, fuller, softer and a little more robust than the Brut. It is drier than normal Cap Classique rose but it has a lot of strawberries and cream and raspberry notes on the wine without the weight.

    Tasting notes: ripe cherries, red lollipop and raspberry aromas provide a delicate profile to the wine. These are followed by some hints of grapefruit and wild rose. The palate opens with a voluptuous texture supported by elegant acidity. Initially fresh red berries, wild plum and spice. The length and richness of the palate develops a complexity with raspberry compote and hints of blueberries and aniseed.

    Vintage wines

    Le Lude’s first vintage wines were blended in 2012. All vintage wines are the premium selection of the tanks and from the outset the idea was to mature them for at least five years.

    “The agreement has always been the wines are ready to drink today but must show the potential to age. When we blend, we focus on that because I want to be able to sell you a bottle of non-vintage brut and tell you, you can drink this in three years’ time,” said Paul.

    “The vintage wines have been matured but taste pristine so we know we can say for at least the next five years this wine going to mature beautifully. So then you have a wine that’s ten or twelve years old.”

    Le Lude’s first Blanc de Blanc was harvested in 2015. It took three years and nearly four harvests before Paul decided which blocks to use. “This will become Le Lude’s flagship wine and the benchmark for everything we do at Le Lude. But it’s only for release in 2022.”

    Pairing Le Lude Wines

    Sparkling wine is very versatile when paired with food and Le Lude’s wines are no different.

    Paul told us, “Now that we have the vintage wines, we are going to start doing wine dinners. We have seven wines now that you can serve right throughout the dinner; so six courses plus aperitif. This will be a unique experience to show different styles and how they work with different foods yet are not completely dominated.”

    A Photo of pink roses at Le Lude

    The future

    Sparkling wine is becoming very popular due its versatility and often times more affordable alternatives to Champagne such as MCC.

    “The fact that people are drinking a lot more bottle-fermented sparkling wine is fantastic. It’s good for business but it means all of us need to improve our game, improve the quality that we’re producing. It’s the one thing at Le Lude we keep questioning: how can we do something better? What can create a better experience for our guests?” said Paul.

    “And you don’t want to say at any point to yourself, this is good. I think the day that you say that about your own wine, it’s dangerous. I like the idea of thinking there’s always something that I can improve.”


    Keep an eye on our blog, and look out for Le Lude - Part 2 where you will learn more about the beautiful Le Lude, their wonderful restaurant Orangerie, and Lily Pond House, the perfect getaway to include in your next trip to Franschhoek.

     

  • In Celebration of Champagne

    February, the month of romance and love, is in full swing. Valentine’s Day, chocolate and Champagne have been featured everywhere this month.

    In the world of wine however, Champagne is only one type of sparkling wine. It’s probably the best known but definitely not the only one. But great Champagne is most often less than affordable. There are however, many affordable options from all around the world that will certainly leave your pocket feeling less strained but still are of good quality!

    Much of the bubbly from outside of Champagne is produced using the same methods and often with the same grape varietals.

    Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of bubbles.

    Tip 1: French Champagne-style Alternatives

    Champagne is not the only region of France producing great bubbly. France has a total of 23 other wine regions producing fabulous sparkling wines such as Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Anjou mousseux AOC and Blanquette de Limoux AOC.

    Tip 2: International Champagne-style Alternatives

    Keep your eyes open for international alternatives. Here is a list of names of non-French wines made using the same traditional methods used to create Champagne around the world:

    - South Africa: Methode Cap Classique

    - Spain: Cava or Espumoso

    - Portugal and Argentina: Espumante

    - Italy: Metodo Classico

    - Germany and Austria: Sekt

    - USA, Australia, etc: Traditional Method or Méthode Champenoise

    There are other sparkling wines such as Prosecco, but this is not made using the same method as Champagne.

    Tip 3: Serve your bubbly at the right temperature

    All sparkling wines should be served between 6 and 8°C. Anything warmer could cause the wine to lose flavour and bubbles too quickly.

    Tip 4: How to open the bottle correctly

    To avoid unnecessary wastage or an F1-style shower, opening the bottle of bubbly correctly is essential. Whilst some, like Takuan von Arnim, Cellar Master at Haute Cabriere are masters in the art of sabrage (opening the bottle using a sabre!), most of us need to use more simple methods to extract a cork!

    A photo of Takuan von Arnim, Cellar Master at Haute Cabriere doing sabotage

    To avoid injury to yourself and your guests, it is necessary to control the release of the cork. There are two ways to do this. The first involves grasping the cork firmly and twisting the bottle slowly. The cork travel upwards as the bottle twists, but you still retain a good deal of control when the cork separates from the bottle. The second method involves loosening the wire cap but not removing it entirely. This aids in keeping additional control.

    Both methods, as long as they are done slowly and with control, will ensure that bubbles are preserved.

    Tip 5: Pouring and serving sparkling wines to preserve bubbles

    In order to maintain effervescence, bubbly should be served in a long flute. It is also very importance to trickle the wine down the side of the glass while tilting at an angle. This ensures more carbon dioxide remains in the wine, enhancing the taste and mouth-feel of the wine.

    Tip 6: Pairing bubbly with food

    The best thing about bubbly is that it is so very versatile. It is no longer primarily a celebratory drink. It can be enjoyed with many different meals. Some ideas include:

    - Brie and other creamy cheeses

    - Salami and prosciutto

    - Seafood such as shellfish, smoked salmon, caviar and calamari.

    - Duck or beef

    - Fruit-based desserts such as tarts and crepes

    - Buttered popcorn

    - Pizza

    Hard To Find Wines stocks a wide range of bubbly. Take a look at our website and make a selection for your next celebration!

    Next week we will take a look at Le Lude, an exquisite Methode Cap Classique producer from Franschhoek in South Africa.

  • New Arrivals from Franschhoek!

    Our latest shipment of South African wines has arrived!

    We are excited to announce that, for the first time, outstanding quality wines from Stony Brook, Le Lude and Infinity Wines are available through Hard To Find Wines.

    We are also delighted to have received some gems from GlenWood including final stock of the Chardonnay Vigneron's Selection 2015. It's the last chance to buy this vintage so don't delay!

    STONY BROOK VINEYARDS

    An old world winemaking philosophy paired with an exploratory planting and assemblage strategy have allowed Stony Brook's winemaker, Craig McNaught to beautifully express the true terroir of their unique position in Franschhoek. Here are four of the wide range of small volume wines we have available from Stony Brook. For the full selection, click here. Continue Reading

  • Three must-do Franschhoek wine experiences

    If you are due to visit Cape Town for your holiday, make sure you include a trip to Franschhoek to experience some of the Cape Wineland's best wine estates.

    Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and is situated 46 miles outside of Cape Town, surrounded by mountains and vineyards. The name Franschhoek means French Corner and is the area the French Hugenots settled when they arrived in South Africa in 1688. Still today, the town retains its French heritage and is a wonderfully picturesque place to spend time with plenty of accommodation options available to visitors.

    Here are three wine-related experiences we recommend while you are in Franschhoek this year.

    Haute Cabriere

    Haute Cabriere is a firm favourite with our clients and you cannot spend time in Cape Town without a visit to this wine estate with its striking stone cellar and tasting room.

    Haute Cabriere relaunched its menus for this South African summer season, introducing a tapas style and oyster menu to the tasting room and also extending its opening hours in the restaurant and tasting room. You can read more about these changes in our blog post here.

    A photo of a couple enjoying wine tasting outside at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek

    Haute Cabriere boasts a wonderful view of the Franschhoek valley and is the ideal spot for summer sundowners on the terrace outside the tasting room that will remain with you once you return to the UK. Guided cellar tours are offered Monday to Saturday and are followed by a sabrage display and wine tasting, so make sure you book before arrival as they tend to get quite busy, particularly on the weekends.

    GlenWood

    A photo showing GlenWood's Tasting Room and vineyards

    GlenWood has relaunched its restaurant concept this season, offering a unique food and wine pairing experience in an intimate setting that seats at most 20 guests. Each guest experiences six of GlenWood's award-winning wines along with a tasting palette of six paired dishes comprised primarily of locally produced products. Guests select their lunch main course and accompanying wine from this tasting palette.

    This wine estate is a hidden gem, located two or three kilometers down a dirt road in the secluded Robertsvlei Valley in Franschhoek. It is well worth the detour to visit GlenWood, as the peace and tranquility, together with the wonderful panorama to be seen from the tasting room and restaurant whilst enjoying the estate's wines, are not to be missed.

    Make sure you book in advance for the restaurant due to the limited seating.

    Le Lude

    Photo showing the cork Agrafe style of a bottle of Le Lude MCC wine

    Le Lude is a new offering through Hard To Find Wines with their Méthode Cap Classique wines arriving imminently in the UK, just in time for Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to learn when they will be available on our website. If you would like to pre-order, call our sales line on 01746 389 749.

    Specialising in Cap Classique sparkling wines, Le Lude is a newcomer to the Franschhoek wine scene with its first harvest having taken place in 2012 and producing only the traditional Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for its sparkling wines.

    Le Lude is the first South African winery to produce Agrafe bottle-fermented sparkling wine. The Agrafe method ferments wine under cork instead of crown cap.

    Not only does Le Lude produce exceptional MCC wines, it also boasts a great restaurant that we highly recommend you visit: the Orangerie. Under the direction of chef Nicolene Barrow, the Orangerie offers a tasting menu, an a la carte menu and a high tea menu.

    Don't forget...

    Once you have experienced these excellent wines during your visit to Franschhoek, place your order either through the vineyard for delivery by Hard To Find Wines in the UK, or visit our website to place your order.

  • Thanksgiving Wines

    Harvest celebrations are held the world over, in both religious and secular circles. Probably the most well-known harvest celebrations in Western countries include Thanksgiving Day in Canada and the USA and Harvest Festivals in the UK.

    Thanksgiving in the USA

    Thanksgiving takes place in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November. The festivities that led to modern celebrations in the USA can be traced back to a 1621 harvest celebration at Plymouth in today's Massachusetts and were introduced as a federal holiday by President Roosevelt in 1942.

    Traditional activities include family dinners, parades (such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, held annually since 1924), charitable endeavours, religious thanksgiving services, big sporting events (for example, American football and basketball) and the unique event of Turkey Pardoning. Each year, the President of the United States is presented with two live turkeys. At least one of the turkeys, sometimes both, are pardoned from becoming Thanksgiving dinner and taken to a farm to live out the rest of their life.

    The usual foods enjoyed during Thanksgiving include roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, autumn vegetables such as pumpkin, and pumpkin pie.

    Thanksgiving in Canada

    Thanksgiving in Canada takes place on the second Monday in October. While no firm evidence exists to confirm the details of the first Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, many believe that is occurred in 1578. The origins can be traced to harvest celebrations of French settlers in the 17th century. Today's celebrations are strongly influenced by elements of US Thanksgiving and by immigrants in the 1700s from Ireland, Scotland and Germany.

    The same foods as those enjoyed in the USA, such as turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, are served. Other foods, such as baked ham and apple pie are common, as well as salmon and wild game.

    Harvest Festivals in the United Kingdom

    Fruit and vegetables on a table with a cornucopia

    While the traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving had no official date in the United Kingdom, it was traditionally held on the Sunday nearest the harvest moon occurring closest to autumn equinox. Harvest Thanksgiving in Britain has pagan roots but is now often seen as a Christian festival, celebrated by churches and schools in late September or early October.

    The festival is celebrated with singing, praying and giving thanks for the harvest. Collections of food take place which are then donated to charities to help those in need.

    Wine pairings with Thanksgiving meals

    Whilst Harvest Festivals do not traditionally involve meals like their cousins across the pond, more and more people are celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK, be they US or Canadian expats or others who enjoy the idea behind Thanksgiving.

    So, we've had a look at which wines you should consider serving at any upcoming Thanksgiving festivities you may have planned. While traditionally, Zinfandel and Beaujolais Nouveau have been wines served with US Thanksgiving meals, here are a few alternatives to consider:

    Aperitif - Rosé or Blanc de Noirs Champagne

    Perfect as a pre-Thanksgiving aperitif, Rosé or Blanc de Noirs Sparkling wines are bold enough to pair with a main course as well.

    Our recommendation: Lanzerac MCC Blanc de Blancs NV - £19.99

    Turkey - Pinot Noir

    Pinot Noir works well with white and dark turkey meat, cranberry sauce and creamy dishes such as mashed potatoes.

    Our recommendation: Porters Pinot Noir 2006 - £39.99

    Ham - Amarone della Valpolicella

    If ham is featuring as your main dish this year, Amarone's rich cherry and chocolately flavours will complement the sweetness of the ham. A moderate acidity acts to cleanse the palate which is ideal when serving rich meats and gravy.

    Our recommendation: Zenato Amarone Classico Della Valpolicella Doc 2011 - £48.00

    Venison - Shiraz

    Shiraz pairs well with venison due to it's spicy, gamier flavours, particularly if the venison is served in a casserole. Another good choice would be a Pinot Noir.

    Our recommendation: Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2014 - £13.99

    Tofu - Sauvignon Blanc

    Tofu has no significant flavour of its own, so pairing will mainly be down to how the tofu is served, prepared or its accompaniments. One tofu dish often served as a vegetarian option to replace turkey is tofurky. It is often very salty, so a Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp acidity will do well. Otherwise, if uncertain, another good option would be a Pinot Noir or a Sparkling wine.

    Our recommendation: Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - £12.79

    In short

    If you want to select only one or two wines for your Thanksgiving celebration, we recommend a Pinot Noir and a Sparkling wine. Overall, Pinot Noir pairs well with most light and dark meats and a variety of dishes. And of course, who can enjoy a celebratory meal without Sparkling wine!

    A caution for vegans

    Not all wines are vegan. Whilst at first it may seem that being made from grapes and yeast, wines should be vegan, there is a winemaking process involved that introduces non-vegan elements. The process is called fining and is used to clarify wine. When selecting wines, choose those that are unfined and unfiltered. That way you can be sure that no animal products were used in the production of the wine.

  • Autumn Wines for Autumn Times

    The weather in the UK is turning chilly, nights are getting longer and with the first light fall of snow hitting Scotland just this past weekend, we are most definitely in the midst of autumn. While the harvest festivals and bonfire night let us know that we are nearly in winter, we are not quite there yet. So sometimes when it comes to wine, we can feel a bit uncertain as to which wines are the best options for these cooler, but not yet deep-of-winter, evenings and the various autumn celebrations.

    While you could drink any wine you personally prefer at any time of the year, if you want to pair your wines with seasonal produce and seasonally inspired dishes, then picking wines that suit the season would be a good idea.

    Naturally, in spring and summer, we tend to drink more rosés and whites, particularly the lighter, aromatic and crisp wines that compliment the warmer weather. But which wines are autumn wines?

    Red wines

    Red wine choices for autumn include light- and medium-bodied reds such as Merlot, Rioja and Pinot Noir, which pair very well with slightly heavier food that we tend to prefer in Autumn. Pair a Merlot or Rioja with a beef stew, shepherds pie or a lasagne. Pinot Noir is a versatile wine, pairing well with most meats, mushroom risotto and beef wellington.

    Hard To Find Wines has a wide selection of light- and medium-bodied reds to choose from for your autumn wines. Here are a few you might want to consider.

    Muratie Merlot 2006

    muratie_merlot

    Deep intense ruby red to inky black. A combination of plums and chocolate come to the fore followed by blackcurrants and dark chocolate on the palate. The full intense assortment of flavours provides a feast for the palate. The wine has lots of body, yet subtle with well integrated oak giving it a lasting finish.

    Vinedos Real Rubio Rioja Crianza 2011

    A bottle of Vinedos Real Rubio Rioja Crianza 2011

    The graciano grape combined with the classic tempranillo produces a wine with lively colours and solid acidity. On the nose, the French cask mingles with the red berries and vanilla. Potent in the mouth, long on the palate with pleasant, ripe tannin which completes the harmony of the wine.

    Te Hera Kiritea Pinot Noir 2012

    A bottle of Te Hera Kiritea Pinot Noir 2012

    A handcrafted Pinot Noir from Te Hera located in the Martinborough region of New Zealand. Only a very limited quantity of this premium Pinot Noir are produced. With redcurrant and a hint of ripened strawberries and eucalyptus on the nose and vibrant fruit on the palate, this Pinot Noir is followed by layers of dark cherry and tobacco. Fine, elegant and with just enough acidity and tannins to balance against the berry flavours.

    Other good autumnal reds include softer red blends and cabernet franc.

    White wines

    Oaked Chardonnay is an excellent white wine choice for autumn and it pairs really well with butternut ravioli, roast chicken and dishes with rich, creamy sauces. Another great white autumn wine is Viognier. Viognier may be full-bodied like Chardonnay but it has distinctly different aromas and tastes and it pairs with Moroccan food, root vegetables and pork with a fruity sauce.

    Hard To Find Wines' selection of autumnal whites include the following:

    GlenWood Chardonnay Vigneron's Selection 2015

    A bottle of GlenWood Vigneron's Selection Chardonnay 2015

    Produced from top quality 26-year-old vines and expertly barrel oaked to obtain a winderfully rich and creamy wooded wine, this GlenWood Chardonnay is barrel fermented with wild yeast for 12 months in new French oak barrels. A gentle oaked nose leading to a creamy, buttery palate and almonds and vanilla with a smoky peach and citrus finish.

    Mellasat Viognier 2014

    A bottle of Mellasat Viognier 2014

    Made using 100% Viognier, the grapes for this wine were picked at optimal ripeness, with the resulting juice barrel fermented and matured for 8 months. The nose undoubtedly shows beautiful floral and orange blossom aromas, with peach and apricot flavours on the palate.

    The four seasons option

    And if you really can't decide between all these options, you can always opt for the most versatile wine that fits all seasons equally well: Champagne and other sparkling wines such as South Africa's Method Cap Classique.

    Here are a couple to tempt you:

    Pierre Jourdan Brut NV

    A bottle of Pierre Jourdan Brut by Haute Cabriere

    This 40/60 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend shows apple and lime crispness from the Chardonnay and depth with a hint of berry from Pinot Noir. The wine is produced using the traditional double fermentation method as utilised in Champagne to create wonderfully fine bubbles and mousse.

    Gaston Chiquet Selection Cuvee Champagne NV

    A bottle of Gaston Chiquet Cuvee Champagne NV

    With aromas of fresh apricots and plums on the nose, and fruit, minerality and floral top notes on the palate, this excellent Champagne from vineyards around Dizy is blended 40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir.

    Of course, there are many other options on the Hard To Find Wines website to delight any wine enthusiast! So why not pop over to our selection of wines right now and make your autumn wines selection today!

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