Categories
Events Food and Drink Manchester Preview/review

And the winner of the best Wine Awards is…

‘Twas a Monday in October when a woman who was still recovering from her (cough)th birthday party two nights before, did approach a table laden with 30 wines.

30.

What craziness is this?

I hear you cry.

Get this woman an intervention. Or Graham from Jeremy Kyle. Or…just something.

But you see it was ok. This was all in the name of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, I had been given the prestigious honour of being a Round 1 judge, and I (mostly) gracefully spat each and every single one. Ok there were two I swallowed – one by mistake, and one champagne very much on purpose.

Were they all horrid then?

Oh you, you…imaginary person, you.

No, you see myself and my fellow tasters were doing this properly, there was a lot of contenders in the room and we all wanted to live to see Christmas.

In its second year, the People’s Choice Wine Awards is unique in that it’s the only wine awards that are dedicated to, and judged, by wine consumers. And the whole process takes part in our lovely city of Manchester.

I consume wine. Therefore I am.

This first round is a blind judging test where all tasting measures are poured from a covered bottle and so judges literally rely on their senses to select their favourites and mark them accordingly.

The full list of categories can be found here on the People’s Choice Wine Awards website but the ones I was involved with included Girls Night In, Out of the Ordinary, War of the Roses and Sweets for my Sweet.

I was admittedly out of my comfort zone. My preference is for sparkling and reds. Here was a plethora of whites, roses and dessert wines waiting for me to sniff, swirl and spit.

That evening I entered territory less visited and, reader, it was good for me to push my own boundaries. Now I know we’re not talking sky dives, organ donation or Everest, but we’re all creatures of habit and it’s good to have those challenged.

(Plus wine is really massively important, k?)

Now I’ll never really know which my favourites were from that evening, but I hope the finalists and indeed the winners included some of those I marked highly.

Because although wines we chose in Round 1 went through to the next judging round which brings in a little more official ‘expertise’, a little wine birdy told me that there is an extremely high correlation between the wine preferences from the ‘on the ground’ consumers and the ‘expert’ consumers.

My theory is that the only difference is that some of us may not know exactly why we like a wine, just that we do.

Oh how we do.

And so fast forward nearly 5 months and the shortlists have been further shortened and the finalists chosen. And my day’s leave approved as I schedule in a hangover for post-Awards Tuesday.

But a hangover produced from the best as chosen by The People.

And so on an unseasonably warm Monday in February (i.e. last night) – I mean I had a coat on but had I not, I wouldn’t have been too freezing – the great and the good gathered at The Comedy Store at Deansgate Locks, to find out just who would take away the coveted title from their categories.

The scene that met us as we entered the ‘Store was one of wine lover paradise.

For lined up on the bar was every finalist wine, each proudly wearing their nominated category on a little tag round their necks.

And these bottles were uncorked, unscrewed, popped, erm punctured and twisted (there’s a ‘bag in a box’ category). And there was a cacophony of empty glasses.

And there was this sign:

(No YOUR pic is blurred).

Anyway it basically said to have some.

And we did.

And it was fine. Not as in

Yeah, it’s ok

But fine.

At this point, I must declare my favourite. Wine is not like children. You can pick and choose. But admittedly whilst not trying every single wine on offer (I’ve only take one day’s annual leave for recovery – and my spitting days are over), a favourite from my Fizz Festival going (also run by the fabulous Cracking Wine ) was up for an award and waving at me from the bar.

Honorary Manc! It’s me! You love me and buy me and love me and things!

Hello lovely Lyme Bay Winery and your sparkling rose (as nominated in the Fabulous Fizz: Best Sparkling Wine UK category.

However, my love affair for Lyme Bay aside, there was a whole host of exemplary wines available last night and many that may have never caught your attention before. Which is why I urge you to

  • Apply to be a Round 1 judge next year; and
  • Attend the Awards night.

Speaking of which, Fizz in hand, we all entered the theatre at the ‘Store and took our seats, all sharing two thoughts…

At what point shall we take the Ellen-esque awards crowd selfie to break the internet…

And

What’s the etiquette on drinking more wine during this ‘bit’.

For those wondering, leave and fill up your glass when the mood takes you.

Although, timing is key. I’m looking at you – winner who was absent when their name was called.

And you – lovely lady who we all applauded as you rose from your seat as the category winner was announced, only for you to carry on walking past the stage and through the exit.

You daft articles.

Hosted by local wine heroes Reserve’s own Kate Goodman and TV presenter Amelia Singer from The Wine Show, it was great to see my experience through right to the end, as the fabulous winners took to the stage to receive both their titles and their very own Tony Husband specially commissioned artwork.

The full list of people winning at wine can be found here.

I don’t profess to be an expert but I know what I like, I’ve learned how to realise what I like (tasting techniques) and even why it might be that I like it. And this is the message that the People’s Choice Wine Awards is sending.

Wherever you sit on the scale, wine consumers are wine consumers are wine consumers. We all share a passion for wine and our preferences all hold equal validity.

And so as I hang up my frock (I didn’t stumble in and leave it scrunched up on the floor – you stumbled in and left it scrunched up on the floor) and revisit the list of winners, I make it my vow to continue on my wine-drinking ‘journey’ and try every last lovely one of them.

Cheers!

Get involved at https://peopleschoicewineawards.com/

Categories
Bars Events Food and Drink Giveaway Manchester

Foodies gather – it’s the Manchester Eats festival giveaway!

I eat, you eat, he eats, she eats, we eat, they eat, Manchester Eats!

And how.

Manchester foodies lend me your ears! And your tastebuds.

There is a brand new Food Festival in town – hold onto your hats, we all have a whole new reason to eat… to be..to love Manchester.

Manchester Eats festival hits Heaton Park, on the weekend of 7 and 8 July, transforming the park into a food lovers’ paradise.

What exactly does paradise look like?

I hear you cry.

It looks like top celebrity chefs, Marco Pierre White, Ed Baines, Adam Reid, Matt Tebbutt and Mary-Ellen McTague conducting workshops and taking and talking us through our favourite subject. Food.

For those who like to walk the walk, there will be cooking classes for visitors young, old and somewhere in the middle to take part in, from vegan cooking to a chocolate masterclass.

I’ll let that just sink in.

And then say it again,

Chocolate. Masterclass.

For those of us who prefer to sit back and let others do the cooking, there will be a global food court, a healthy living zone and lots of Manchester favourites exhibiting their wares including Cottonopolis and Proove Pizza.

That’s not all. Oh no.

To pretty much misquote Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction (yes I do reference popular culture that isn’t stuck in the 90s all the time. some of the time), as much as we love the food, we love tasty beverages to wash it all down with.

And so whilst it’s not in the title, Manchester Eats and also, dagnammit, Manchester drinks too.

Cocktail lovers (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a cocktail), will be treated to displays from mixologists, fizz fiends will be in a frenzy over the Prosecco tent, Manchester Gin will be there to indulge our love for mother’s ruin and so much more.

In addition, official charity partners the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation will be providing an activity zone all weekend, with interactive, accessible sporting activities for both children and adults.

The family friendly festival will also host a dedicated children’s village with live DJ sets.

Have I whetted your appetite?

Does whet even have an ‘h’ in it?

Well lookie here.

You could purchase tickets to temptation by visiting the Manchester Eats festival website here..

But wait.

This honorary manc is giving you honorary, real, or even just lovers of mancs, the chance to win tickets to foodie heaven!

With two pairs of tickets to give away, you are so right to be excited.

To enter, click the link below. Entries close at midnight on Friday 29 June.

Click here to enter!

Winners will be whizzed straight onto the guest list before you can say ‘Manchester doesn’t need Michelin stars to rule the world’.

Categories
Bars Culture Fitness Food and Drink Manchester Photography Preview/review

Manchester plays host to Fizz Club – cava load of this! (sorry)

I’ve been a member of a number of clubs in my life.

Chess club, book club, netball club,

Never has my enthusiasm been so strong, my interest piqued so much, my commitment been so absolute than for this particular club I’m proud to be a member of.

That of course is Fizz Club, as brought to us by the people from the fantastically popular The Fizz Festival

Imagine, if you will, a place you can go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.

Actually on that point, I’m pretty sure only the lovely ladies who run the club know my name and that’s because I’m like an excited puppy when it hears the tell-tale jangle of its lead – my ears pricking sharply up at the pop of a cork.

To use another canine analogy (and why wouldn’t you), I’m like Pavlov’s dog. The cork is my bell, and at the mere POP I’m salivating, flute in hand.

That’s a bit gross, but you get the general idea.

Anyway, I basically love fizz, sparkling wine, whatever you want to call it.

Actually we need to call it fizz – it’s what the club’s called, after all.

And whilst my favourite is and always will be champagne, I thought that to be educated in all things fizz would be serve me well in two respects:

  • I would have the opportunity to expand my mind as to all of the different varieties and types of sparkling wines there are out there, as well as tasting and learning about different champagnes on the market; and
  • It would hugely justify my obsession with fizz it I placed it within an educational context.

I can drink it because I know a bit about it and I’m in a club and I need to be a good club member. So there.

And so duly did I join Fizz Club as did my husband (men, go join!) and I haven’t looked back since.

Up until this year, Fizz Club evenings had taken part in the suburbs, with tasting events in locations such as Hale and Knutsford.

However, this year Fizz Club is sharing the love further and taking their tastings into central Manchester as well. Perfect for anyone living in, working in, visiting, basically anything-ing Manchester.

Event are open to non-members too but at this point I shall link to all the deets of the advantages of what it means to be a member:

Become a Fizz Club member

Last week I attended the inaugural city centre event. Originally planned to be held at Kiehl’s on King Street, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma put paid to that, causing the store to close and matters in hand relocate next door to the wonderful El Gato Negro Tapas, with a chance to check out their top floor bar and dining space (that of the rather marvellous and infamous retractable roof better utilised in summer).

And so the Spanish theme was no coincidence (El Gato Negro Tapas had already been on board to provide us with delicious canapés to accompany our tasting), Cava was on the menu, with five different wines to taste and pour over.

I personally have a penchant for Cava over Prosecco as it’s made in the traditional method, in the same way as Champagne (note how I capitalise the drink types – fizz is that important) and is generally more dry than its sweeter Italian counterpart.

From the Catalonia region and the area of El Penedes, Cava traditionally brings together three grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

  • Bodegas Sumarroca Cava Brut Reserva

The first was brought to us by the lovely people at El Gato Negro Tapas themselves and on their menu at a cost of £6 a glass.

Decidedly toasty and very bubbly I would happily and unashamedly drink this as a session Cava. That is not to insult it by saying it can be knocked back without due care and attention. It’s to save it was lovely and light and I could drink lots and lots and lots of it…

The next four were brought to us by Codorniu.

I say brought to us – the poor rep and guest speaker joined Kiehl’s as a victim of the weather, and held hostage in Aberdeen. So more accurate is to say the next four were sent to us by the lovely man from Cordoniu and presented to us and poured by the equally lovely Janet who runs the whole lovely fizzy affair.

Incidentally Cordoniu is pronounced

COD-ON-YOU

Got that? Good on you.

My mind is blown nearly as much as a few years ago when my brother-in-law returned from his honeymoon in the Champagne region with news that Moët is pronounced with a hard t.

Yep.

Cordoniu is the second biggest Cava producer, the first being (I’ll whisper it out of respect to our lovely friends at the former), Freixenet (pronounced FRESH – EN – NAY).

  • Codorniu Brut NV

This was described as a Brut non-vintage entry level Cava. Perfect as an aperitif, it was very fresh and again light.

Whilst it had an earth aroma, its taste was the opposite and for me quite fragrant.

  • Codorniu Zero

This next Cava came with a quiz question

What do you think has been removed, thus resulting in its name?

I had already decided that sugar had been removed because I am currently obsessed with a certain slimming club and trying to see how much wine I can squeeze out of my syns allowance. So without even tasting it properly, I declared sugar and whilst desperate to love it as it could be my go to ‘skinny’ cava, I was saddened to learn I didn’t really.

Just why I didn’t like it became embarrassingly clear when the answer was revealed to be

Alcohol. It has no alcohol.

Oops. I’d genuinely rather have a vimto as my alcohol free drink of choice. Having said that, this is personal taste on my part and there were others who liked it.

  • Codorniu Vitcultura Ecologically Brut

The next tasted came with another revelation. Introduced as an organic cava, I immediately thought

Marvellous, no hangover. I shall strive to enjoy this come what may.

However our esteemed host told us that whilst sulphur can indeed provide people with something of a reaction, it isn’t what causes hangovers. Drinking lots of alcohol itself causes lots of hangovers. Nothing to do with sulphur content and so organic whilst a good thing in many respects, isn’t the answer to a hangover free drinking session.

I can hear a pin drop.

This wine is aged between 9 – 12 months and had a distinctly apple-y aroma and flavour. A good Cava to enjoy with traditional tapas and a little bolder (some might say ‘funky’. Just like Mark’s 90s ‘bunch’).

  • Codorniu Reina Ma Cristina Blanc de Noirs Vintage

Last but not least was the 2013 produced Vintage which was actually made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.

Aged for 15 months, I was expecting not to enjoy this as much (yes I appear to run firmly with pre-conceived ideas in life, must stop this) as I tend not to like champagne on the more vintage side which I think is a contradiction to my liking my reds robust and full-bodied), this was not as complex and heavy as I expected it to taste and I liked it.

Advised it was a good food wine, particularly fish, I could see how it could hold its own whilst not taking over the show.

And so the inaugural city centre Fizz Club night was drawn to a close. But not before we were asked if we would like to enjoy more of what what was left from what we’d tasted and liked beforehand…

As mentioned earlier, Fizz Club is affiliated with and run by the same lovely people who treat us all to the annual event that is The Fizz Festival, held in South Manchester.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Handily, though, I have and am happy to provide you with a run down of what goes on here:

An A in Fizzical Education

So what are you waiting for?

The next city centre event is at Randall and Aubin on 25 April 2018 but if you can’t wait that long, head along back to the ‘burbs to Didsbury on 21 March 2018!

Details of these and all events can be found right here!

Cheers and see you at the next one 🥂