MONTHLY DIGEST: Fortified Wines and Exploring Rum #3
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
March began with prepping for my fortified wine exams as part of the WSET diploma. I've loved learning about fortified wines - Sherry, Port, Madeira and Fortified Muscats. There's so much history, diversity and value to be found in these styles of wines and I’ve discovered lots of delicious gems. This month I've included three recommendations in my "Fortified Friends" section below and I hope you get the chance to try some of these wines. Post-exams, I headed off for a week in Barbados for some R&R. I had a bit of a break from vino, and really got into the local rum. Cheers and enjoy!
As you will notice from my recommendations, fortified wines are exceptionally good value, with my "Splurge" wine this month being under £30! I've also tried some fantastic *special occasion* fortified wines recently (mainly on the Port and Sherry side) upwards of the £50 mark - so if you'd like any recommendations, then please get in touch.
Bodegas Hidalgo "La Gitana" Manzanilla Sherry, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain | Sainsbury's £8.00 | So delicious and so affordable. This Manzanilla Sherry is dry, light, tangy and refreshing with notes of bruised apple, freshly baked bread and almonds with a real savoury finish. Pairs perfectly with Spanish tapas - in particular, it's excellent with anchovies, nuts, jamón and croquetas. I also think it's a great match with sushi. Serve chilled and keep in the fridge for 3-5 days once opened. Click this link to see me enjoying a glass of La Gitana at their bar in Sanlúcar de Barrameda!
Taylors LBV Port, Douro, Portugal | Waitrose £14.99 | LBV means "Late Bottle Vintage" Port. LBV Ports spend 4-6 years in barrel before they are released, and on release they are ready for drinking (unlike Vintage Ports which are typically opened many decades after release). Like Vintage Ports, LBVs are sweet with a full body but tend to have a little less concentration of flavour and tannin, so are more approachable. This LBV has been fined and filtered so doesn't require decanting (just open and pour) and is packed with flavours of blackberry, plum, tobacco and chocolate. Serve with dark chocolate desserts or stilton!
Barbeito 10-year-old Sercial Reserva Velha, Madeira, Portugal | Laithwaites £29.99 | Madeira has been one of my favourite discoveries of 2019. It's like a Sherry on steroids! This Sercial (grape) Madeira is a little sweeter than off-dry, but is on the drier side for styles of Madeira. It's packed with notes of candied orange, grapefruit, walnuts, toffee and caramel, with racy, electrifying acidity. Drink it by itself as an aperitif, with fragrant seafood dishes, or after dinner with nuts, cheese and fruity desserts.
FLASH-FRIED RUM-SOAKED PINEAPPLE
This month, I've got a quick and easy recipe for a flash-fried rum-soaked pineapple topped with toasted almonds and ice cream. Serve with a delicious spiced dark rum or try with my Madeira suggestion above.
For 2 people * 6 long slices of pineapple
* 50ml of dark rum
* 2 tbsps of flaked almonds
* large scoop of ice cream (I recommend coconut, vanilla, salted caramel or peanut butter)
* sprig of mint to serve
Step 1: In a bowl, soak the slices of pineapple in the dark rum and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Step 2: Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until they turn lightly brown. Turn off the heat and pour the almonds on to kitchen towel to cool. Step 3: Take the pineapple out of the fridge and rest for 5 minutes. Heat a dry frying pan to a medium-high heat and add the pineapple and rum juices. The excess rum juices will evaporate after a couple of minutes. Keep turning the pineapple in the heated pan until lightly golden. Step 4: To serve (as pictured below) make a pyramid shape with the pineapple slices, scoop a generous portion of ice cream on the side, scatter the toasted almonds on top and add a sprig of mint to decorate.
Earlier this month I had a post-work drink at The Hide Bar, on Bermondsey Street. All the drinks offered (wine, spirits and beer) are either distilled, brewed, fermented or produced in London. Such an interesting and innovative concept! I tucked into a couple of glasses of 2016 Charlotte St. Chardonnay by London Cru (link to buy here). Seriously delicious and affordable Chardonnay - with an unctuous body, a distinctive stone fruit character, and delicate oak notes on the palate. Burgundy you better watch out! My drinking buddy tucked into 2015 Barbican Barbera also by London Cru. I applaud The Hide Bar's celebration of London drinks and what a great idea to showcase so many of them in one place. A bar to definitely check out. Wines by the glass from £7 | 39-45 Bermondsey St London, SE1 3XF
MOUNT GAY RUM VISIT
Earlier this month, I visited the Mount Gay rum visitor centre in Bridgetown in the south west of Barbados. I took an introductory tour to learn about the history of rum and how it is made. I started the tour with a little rum punch (pictured above!) followed by a tasting of 4 different Mount Gay rums. Mount Gay have been producing rum for over 300 years, and their range starts with entry-level rums ideal for mixing and extends to super-premium rums that should be served neat or straight-up. At the higher end, I really enjoyed the Mount Gay XO Extra Old Reserve Cask Rum, with notes of fresh banana bread, vanilla, toast and molasses. Very smooth and warming. On offer until 08/10/2019 with Waitrose for £33.00 link here.