What to drink with pork

He [Jack Aubrey] said, ‘What do you say to a glass of Madeira before we go to the gun-room? I believe they have killed their younger pig for us, and Madeira is a capital foundation for pork.’

Madeira did very well as a foundation, burgundy as an accompaniment, and port as a settler; though all would have been better if they had been a little under blood-heat. ‘How long the human frame can withstand this abuse,’ thought Stephen, looking round the table, ‘remains to be seen.’ He was eating biscuit rubbed with garlic himself, and he had drunk thin cold, black coffee, on grounds both of theory and personal practice; but as he looked round the table he was obliged to admit that so far the frames were supporting it tolerably well.

From “HMS Surprise” by Patrick O’Brian

Manor Wines Summer Showcase Favourites Table

Less than a month to go to our Summer tasting and the debate has begun on which wines to show on the Manor Wines favourite tables. It looks likely that we will each pick our favourite wine, but which one to choose?

The wine we like to drink on a hot summers day being a summer tasting?

The bottle you run to after a tough day?

The bottle of wine to celebrate with?

Or the steady everyday drinking wine always sitting in the rack, so good that when you run out, you always have to buy more and cheap enough to open most nights?

If you want to know what I pick come along to the tasting. For more details on the tasting and to register your interest click here and we will send you an invitation.


As the asparagus season begins and lasts for only 6 weeks (approximately 1st May to 20th June) the great debate of which wine to match with asparagus begins.

Do you go with the obvious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Kate Radburnd does a delicious zesty style) or are you more adventurous, venturing to, say, the Pinot Gris from Domain Road?
Middle ground could be a white Bordeaux? With the Semillon mellowing the Sauvignon Blanc but being full bodied enough to handle a rich hollandaise.

How about a red wine? Our Chinon Les Bernières Marcel Martin works well if you griddle the asparagus and serve with sautéed mushroom on toasted ciabatta.

My personal favourite is to oven roast the asparagus, serve with balsamic vinegar and lots of parmesan shavings. Match this with a glass of Gavi di Gavi Manfredi. Heaven.

The Secret to a good risotto – a glass of white wine.

Enrich any risotto recipe by adding a glass of white wine. Add the wine after you have fried your rice gently for a few minutes and before you add the stock. The finished result will give you a slightly acidic risotto with a rounder, deeper flavour.

When cooking with wine, the better the wine, the better the end results. We would also recommend using a more full bodied wine (try our Gavi ‘La Battistina’) which can stand up to food. Preferably the wine you would drink with the risotto – giving you the perfect excuse to open a bottle!


We love Angela Harnett’s Courgette Risotto recipe below:

Serves 4 as a starter

1 clove garlic

1 banana shallot or 1 small onion chopped finely

350g risotto rice

200ml white wine

1 litre hot vegetable stock

2 courgettes, grated

150g cold diced butter

100g parmesan cheese

Handful chopped flatleaf parsley

Handful chopped mint

50g pancetta

1 tbsp pine nuts

Salt and pepper

Add a touch of olive oil to a pan, over a medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic without any colour. Then add the rice and a knob of butter and cook for a further four minutes to toast the rice. Season with freshly milled salt and pepper

Deglaze with the white wine and then start to cook the risotto by gradually adding the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously. Continue to cook for 15 minutes. A risotto from start to finish should take 18-20 minutes.

About five minutes from the end, add the grated courgette and mix well. Cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat and beat the diced butter into the risotto rice. Finish with the parmesan and herbs.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sauté the pancetta for a few minutes, then add the pine nuts to toast them.

Pour the risotto rice into a bowl, spoon over the toasted pine nuts and pancetta and serve immediately

Dinner at Rawlinson End

SIR HENRY: “Help yourself to another glass of Chateau Cholostemy. You know, if I had all the money I’ve spent on drink I’d spend it on drink.”
NARRATOR: “Henry picked his teeth with a fingernail that would not have disgraced a flamenco guitarist. Lady Philippa, herself nicely irrigated with horizontal lubricant, leered appreciatively across at her host.”
PHILIPPA: “Could I have another whisky-and-soda?”
SIR HENRY: “Soda? Never trust anything without a cork in it.”
TARQUIN: “I say, old man, what about good old H2O, then?”
FLORRIE: “Tarquin, dear, Henry detests water: why, he even cleans his teeth in rum!”
NARRATOR: “Faced with the unwanted mockery of a wife, Henry sought instant consolation in the intimate proximity of his one true love – his goblet.”

From the 1980 movie “Sir Henry at Rawlinson End”, screenplay by Vivian Stanshall and Steve Roberts

BUDGET: Osborne again

Well, it could have been a lot worse … essentially the budget has added 5p to the price of a bottle of wine, and that is the difference that will be applied to Manor Wines’ prices from Monday 24th March.

Sparkling wines will have 6p added, and fortified wines 7p. No change on spirits.

The great news is that the duty escalator was not applied: this would have roughly doubled these increases. Phew.

There is a certain amount of confusion over exactly how much the duty increases are (for instance, HMRCs website says the increase for still wine is 6p a bottle). Our own calculations show the increases amount to a little less and, to give our customers the best deal possible, that is what we have gone with.

It’s worth emphasising that even with the lighter touch of this budget, duty is now £2.05 on a 75cl bottle of still wine. And the VAT on the duty (oh yes) brings that to £2.46 before you’ve even thought of shipping, bottle, label, cork – let alone actual wine!

Take one cow …

Syllabub – even the name is delicious – is a delectable mousse made by vigorously mixing wine with milk, traditionally straight from the cow, and it’s been popular for centuries.

If there’s no cow handy the milk can be whipped with birch twigs, aerated with a special bellows apparatus – or simply whisked with an electric blender. These days it’s usually made with plenty of cream and there are endless variations with brandy, cider, herbs etc.

Rather than give more detail and recipes I don’t think I can do better than point you to an excellent blog and website by Ivan Day, food historian, and a great recipe from Nigel Slater.

(And by the way, we reckon Late Harvest dessert wine as a great wine for this dish).

Myth, Magic and History of Champagne

The history of Champagne goes back a long way and the facts are muddled in the mist of time, so in this article I am forgetting the facts and telling the story my way. When this area of France produced a low quality still white wine, much of it was exported across the sea to England. Sometimes the fermentation process did not complete and some sugar was left in the wine, caused mainly by the cold weather stopping fermentation. When the wine warmed up in spring the fermentation could start again in the bottles. This caused the wine to become sparkling. French winemakers hated these bubbles as they saw it as a flaw, but of course the English loved the sparkling wine (probably, just because the French loathed it).

Another problem with this second fermentation was that it caused bottles to explode, which both French and English agreed was not a good trait. There was a certain young monk who had just been made the cellar master of the Abbey de Hautvillers, Pierre Pérignon. Dom Pérignon is credited with being the inventor of Champagne. Although there is no proof of this, never let facts get in the way of good folklore! The wire cage was added to stop corks popping during secondary fermentation.

A young lady called Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin married a wine maker call François Clicquot but she was widowed 6 years later at the young age of 27. She was then known as the widow Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot). She invented the rack that is used for riddling, the process which allows the gradual turning and moving of the bottles from horizontal to vertical. This moves the dead yeast cells and sediments to the neck of the bottle, dégorgement then takes place: the neck of the bottle is frozen and the frozen pellet of sediment is removed from the bottle; the bottle is then topped up and resealed.

The process of dégorgement weakens the neck of the bottle and allows the bottles to be opened with a champagne sabre. Napoleon’s officers are said to have opened bottles with the back of their sabre while riding out of her vineyard trying to impress the young Veuve Clicquot. I was taught this technique by Moët & Chandon at the Commodore Hotel, North Devon in a weekend course on Champagne, also in the distant past.

You cannot talk about the myths of Champagne without a mention of the champagne coupe, the saucer shaped glass which these days is less popular than the flute. The coupe is said to have been modelled on the breast of Marie Antoinette, but just to finish on an up for Les Anglais, the coupe was actually invented 100 years earlier to her – in England.

Novice drinker gets the wine habit

So it’s the end of the holidays, a Sunday night in the mid-1970’s (‘the decade that style forgot’). We are the only people in the huge, shadowy, purple-carpeted dining room of the Station Hotel, Perth, a place in which it was still acceptable to serve a small glass of warm, tinned orange juice and call it a starter. My father, who both knew and cared about what he drank, scoured the wine list for some time. I still wonder what else could have been on that list to make him choose what he did: the bottle that eventually sidled up to our table, peeping coyly from its battered bucket had already become shorthand for everything that went wrong with German wine-making. Where once the British had drunk quantities of hock, and Riesling was widely known and respected for the stupendous grape it is, now we had – Blue Nun. I sipped, swallowed, and that bright, fruity, almost metallic tang is still with me. Today, just the sight of a kipper tie and mullet haircut brings it surging back. Of course I thought it quite delicious, a beautiful revelation, and it set me off down the long (sometimes rocky – but that’s another story) path of wine-drinking. Even then, though, I felt instinctively that this perfect experience should be left in its own time and space and no attempt whatsoever made to recapture it.

What is it about Pinot Noir?

Miles: Uh, I don’t know, I don’t know. Um, it’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and … ancient on the planet.

From the 2004 movie “Sideways”, writing credits: Rex Pickett (novel); Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (screenplay)