Wednesday Wines – Episode 137 – Alternative Christmas Gifts

I write about wine and only wine. So this week, with the season of goodwill approaching, I have found a few non-wine recommendations for you to savour.  This is a disparate collection of deliciousness designed to augment your gastronomic sensibilities!

‘Cooking, Simply and Well for One or Many’ by Jeremy Lee £30, Published by www.4thestate.co.uk

Quite simply, the finest cookbook of the year and, who knows, perhaps a candidate for cookbook of the decade. I was lucky to work with Jeremy at Bibendum Restaurant in the early 1990s and have followed his cooking around London ever since. The Blueprint Café years were nothing short of incredible and now his menu at Quo Vadis is both simple and stunning. If you have never popped in, make it a must because the experience is unique and memorable.  Strangely, if you search for this book and its amazing author on the 4th Estate website, neither exists, so here is a reliable retailer – https://www.waterstones.com/book/cooking/jeremy-lee//9780008156206?awaid=3787 where the price is reduced to £24.99

Eto Decanters from £129 – £139 Eto  

I have bought these strikingly beautiful decanters as gifts for ‘those who have everything’ and also various ‘young types setting out on their wine journeys’! Put simply, these are wine preservation decanters – sounds a little far-fetched, but they really do work. They are wonderfully easy to operate, and they look stunning, too.  

Water & Wines Puzzles £39 Water&Wine

I went nuts about these stunning wine-inspired puzzles earlier in the year – they are perfect in every way, and I urge you to visit the website and read the founders’ stories, too.  

Wine Glasses – ‘White’ £52 for 6 glasses Wineware; ‘Red’ £55 for 6 glasses Wineware  

Aside from wine recommendations, the question I am asked more often than any other is – ‘what are your favourite wine glasses’. My reply is very straightforward. I don’t go in for multiple glass shapes, needle-thin stems, angular bowls, grape variety-specific designs, etc., because I don’t believe the hype, and I certainly cannot taste it either. I prefer a good clean shape that handles all styles, including sparkling wines, and this is my preferred model. They come in larger or smaller sizes – I have both. Also, crucially, they are extremely well-priced, durable, and dishwasher-safe.   The image is the ‘Red’ wine size.

English Wine by Oz Clarke £20 published by Pavilion Books Waterstones

Every wine lover should have a copy of this beautiful book on English and Welsh wines written by dear old Oz!  No one captures the essence of our bucolic wine scene quite like Mr Clarke.  Be sure to secure the ‘New Edition’ because it was published in September.

My favourite Ice Bucket – Hammered Stainless Steel Double Champagne Ice Bucket £30 www.johnlewis.com

I never understand why people buy small ice buckets.  This beautiful and eminently affordable version is a ‘double’, which is far more convivial and allows you to keep your bottles cooler for longer!  

Jukes The Sparkling Collection £4 per 250ml can jukescordialities.com

The newest additions to the Jukes range have gained some superb listings around the country, including in Waitrose, where you can find Jukes 6 The Sparkling Red (pictured) in these 22 stores – Bagshot, Beaconsfield, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Comely Bank, Exeter, High Wycombe, Hove, Ipswich, Kingston, Lincoln, Meanwood, Milngavie, Newark, Oakgrove, Petersfield, Rohais, Rickmansworth, Sheffield, Surbiton, and Tonbridge as well as online www.waitrose.com. In addition, you can find the new ‘vintage’ of Jukes Sparkling Pinot Noir (£2.50 per 150ml can) at www.waitrosecellar.com

Collette Cooper’s New Album – Darkside of Christmas www.collettecooper.com

Collette is a great friend of Jukes Cordialities, and we sponsor her amazingly talented and successful netball team, ‘The Jukes Divas’.   Collette released her latest album on 18th November to rave reviews, and it is available as a special edition CD and will be streaming on all major platforms soon. Head to her website to read more about her unique voice and fantastic back catalogue, including my favourite, ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, which is also available to listen to on her website!

My Favourite ‘inexpensive’ corkscrew – Le Creuset 3-In-One Waiters Corkscrew, Bottle Opener & Foil Cutter, For Wine or Beer, Model WT-110 £30.63 www.amazon.co.uk

This is a very competitive price for a failsafe corkscrew. I have owned this sturdy but wonderfully ergonomic corkscrew for a couple of years, and it has never let me down. I have also used countless other versions, some much pricier, that are a complete waste of money, so there you have it.

The Pigs in Blankets cookbook by The Jolly Hog £12.99, www.thejollyhog.com, Waterstones, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Selfridges, Urban Outfitters, Amazon

I met The Jolly Hog people at the recent Waitrose Food & Drink Festival at Tobacco Dock. Lovely team and great sausages and bacon, which was superbly convenient because we were well fed on the Jukes stand! Brand Manager Liv slipped me a copy of their new book, which has recipes for ’50 Bacon & Sausage Showstoppers’. It mentions that the recipes are not just for Christmas, and some incredibly inventive dishes are inside! Much of it is tongue in cheek (no pun intended), but there is no doubt that every recipe tastes utterly delicious given that The Jolly Hog Proper Porker Sausages, Caramelised Sausages, Pigs in Blankets, and Smoked Rashers of Streaky Bacon are all deployed with alacrity.   

Bloody Drinks, Classic Bloody Mary £3.50 per 250ml can www.waitrose.com, £36.00 for 12 x 250ml cans www.masterofmalt.com; £36.00 for 12 x 250ml cans www.bloodydrinks.co.uk; £3.00 for 250ml can www.sainsburys.co.uk

It is hard to believe you can buy a ‘perfect’ Bloody Mary in a can, but I think this is it.  Made with triple-distilled vodka, fine Amontillado sherry, the best tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, some pickle juice, authentic Worcestershire sauce, a dash of soy, a decent amount of seasoning, and genuine Tabasco Sauce – this is top bartender stuff, and it is outstanding value for money, too.  A Boxing Day treat for all.

Made for Drink Premium Bar Snacks www.madefordrink.com £15.99, Meat Snack Selection Box (6 x 30g packs with free UK delivery)

You get two packs of each of chorizo thins, biltong ‘original seasoning’, and salami chips. You can find these elite snacks at Fortnum & Mason, Daylesford, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Harvey Nichols, Wholefoods, Partridges, and many more, and this roll-call of great retailers should alert you to the quality of these mouth-watering treats. I met Made for Drink CEO Dan Featherstone recently, and it is not surprising that these snacks taste so good – he is a man obsessed!  I am a natural sceptic, but I can resoundingly sing the praises of these meaty snacks, so ditch the usual rubbish and upgrade to the finest around.

FIN