Fancy a drink? Lucy Corry raises her glass to the week’s best buys.
Did you get home from work last night and crack open a bottle of wine? Perhaps you stopped at the pub instead and had a quiet pint and a packet of crisps.
If so, the finger-wagging Government thinks you’ve got a problem.
Raising duty on alcohol hasn’t stemmed the tide of middle class drinkers, so a new campaign is hitting them where it hurts - the waistline.
New research shows that the average wine drinker soaks up more than 2,000 calories a month from alcohol alone. In lay terms, that adds up to 38 roast beef dinners or almost 184 bags of crisps a year, according to the Department of Health.
Apparently, 42% of women surveyed for the Government’s Know Your Limits campaign said they had no idea a glass of white wine had the same calories as a bag of crisps. Four out of 10 men claimed to be unaware that a pint of lager had as many calories as a sausage roll.
One newspaper screeched that a glass of white wine had as many calories as four fish fingers. Imagine! Now, I like fish fingers as much as the next person, but they’re not very thirst-quenching.
The only thing I’m taking from this spurious survey, and the hysterical reporting attached to it, is that at least 58% of the female respondents and 60% of the men DID realise that alcohol contains calories. The others are either in severe denial or don’t have the brains they were born with.
I much prefer the results of another survey, which claims that Britons are turning to quality food and wine to help them weather the stresses and strains of the credit crunch.
Pubs might be closing at a rapid rate, but a recent YouGov survey for Discover The Origin claims that 80% of independent food and wine stores in the UK are flourishing.
Whether entertaining or staying in, Britons are apparently treating themselves to affordable luxuries such as Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Cremant de Bourgogne sparkling wine.
A 41% increase in sales of sparkling Burgundy wine over the last year seems to indicate that while most drinkers won’t splash out on champagne, they’re not ready to trade down to own-brand Bucks Fizz just yet.
Crack open a bottle of Louis Bouillot NV Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noirs (from £7, available from good wine shops) or Cave de Bailly NV (£9.99 at Marks and Spencer) with your next fish fingers feast - damn the calories and the credit crunch!
DRINK THIS: Money is all very well but time is the biggest luxury of them all. Make use of your most precious resource by investing some time in growing your own wine rack.
Artist and designer Lois Walpole spent four years designing the wine rack, which is part of a collection developed at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew.
The wine rack can be planted in a container or in the ground and will brighten up any patio or garden - the willow has catkins in the spring, abundant greenery in the summer and colourful bark in the winter.
The kit contains 22 lengths of willow, cut to size and 16 metres of tube tie. But please note - it takes two to three years before the growing willow grafts together and it can be harvested and brought indoors. A hefty dose of patience is not included.
The Grow Your Own Wine Rack is available from www.ecocentric.co.uk or 020 7739 3888, priced £29.99.
:: Britain’s top sommeliers will compete for the prestigious title of UK Sommelier Of The Year on Wednesday April 29.
There are 15 contenders for the title so far, including Joris Beijn from Andaz Hotel, Remi Cousin from the Fat Duck in Bray; Laura Rhys from Hotel TerraVina in Southampton, and two each from the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin mini-chains.
The final part of the annual contest, which is organised by the Academy of Food & Wine, will see the three finalists compete in a simulated restaurant situation in front of an audience at the Tate Modern in London.
Decanter.com reports that the ultimate test will require them to pour a whole magnum of Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut equally into 16 flutes without returning to any of the glasses.
Last year’s UK Sommelier of the Year was Gearoid Devaney, head sommelier at Tom Aikens in London.
:: The great and the good of the beer and whisky world have joined forces in a new book paying homage to celebrated drinks writer Michael Jackson, who died in 2007 after a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser is a collection of new pieces from the drinks writers - all experts in their respective fields.
Ian Buxton, the book’s editor, says generations of writers, brewers and distillers, have cause to be grateful for Jackson’s work.
"Michael Jackson dominated the world of both beer and whisky writing for two decades and was hugely influential in both ’real ale’ and single malt whisky," he says.
"We have sought to honour Michael with words, fresh and new writing on beer and whisky that he would have enjoyed reading; that he would have respected; that he might even have wished to have written himself."
Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser is available from www.classicexpressions.co.uk and from leading whisky retailers, independent brewers and other outlets, priced £12.99. All proceeds will be donated to the UK Parkinson’s Disease Society.