Gin tasting is right up my street. And I needed help getting back.

Gin tasting Dace Crosby

I’m very lucky in lots of ways.

I have nice friends who sometimes ask me to join them at  tastings of delicious alcoholic things poured into glasses. I’m generally in a rush to get there and not in a rush to leave.

Pals asked me to meet them at Dace Tearooms in Crosby for a gin tasting. Dace is  just a little walk away from where I live, so all was good on the arrival front. But it was a little bit of a struggle activating the legs on the departure front and I needed a lift home.

That’s what comes of sipping gin in its many variations, alongside the ample amount of mixers and fruit “dippings” proprietor Chris Dace provided to enhance the six gins on offer.

Gin tasting: The menu

Here’s the six gins in the order they were tasted. I’ve followed Chris’ botanical notes from the night, found links and indicated prices which I’ve Googled from  t’Interweb.
Oh, and there’s a comment or two from tasters overheard nearby.

spitfire heritage gin Dace gin tastingSpitfire Heritage Gin

Botanicals: Juniper, two types of orange,  almonds, borage, coriander, rosemary, star anise, rose petals
Our thoughts: Aromas of almond oil  and oranges; earthy and interesting.
Price: mid-£40s
(includes Wine Rack stores and Master of Malt)

Ish London Dry GInIsh London Dry Gin

Botanicals: Juniper, angelica root, coriander, orris root, orange peel, nutmeg, cassia bark, liquorice, cinnamon, lemon peel.
Our thoughts: Well it was -ish. Mizzled wet slate slabs from the Lake District.
(I don’t make these things up, honest)
Price: I’ve found from mid-£20s to mid-£30s
(includes The Drink Shop)

Hunters Cheshire Gin Dace gin tastingHunters Premium Cheshire Gin

Botanicals: Juniper,  orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, apples, lemon peel, coriander seeds.
Our thoughts: Eerm, not sure how to say this, but Shake n Vac?  (not my comment!)  A bit of tannin too. And quity spicy.
Price: I’ve found from mid-£20s to mid-£30s
(includes Master of Malt)

pickerings-original-1947-ginPickerings Original 1947 Gin

Botanicals: Juniper, cardamom, coriander, clove, cinnamon, angelica, fennel, anise, lemon, lime.
Our thoughts: Ooo aniseed. That would be from the fennel and anise then??
Price: Around £29

ormskirk-ginOrmskirk Gin

Botanicals: Juniper, coriander, ginger, orris root, lemon peel, angelica, cardamom, cassia.
Our thoughts: Ginger on the front foot here with citrus as a curve ball.
Price: Around £39.50

Ungava Canadian Gin Ungava Canadian Premium Gin

Botanicals: Nordic juniper, wild rosehips, cloudberry, crowberry, arctic blend, Labrador tea, (and secret ingredients!)
Our thoughts: We liked this one.  Flowers and fruit making a statement and some complexity.
Price: Around £29 – £32.

The gin tasting venue

A nod to Chris for being an informative host on the evening. Chris worked at Formby Golf Club as house manager and while there, he completed his WSET intermediate and diploma courses.
He opened Dace Tearooms (132-134 College Road) with his wife in February 2014.
Chris runs a monthly wine tasting and every two months or so, he hosts a gin tasting.

Upcoming 2016 dates include:
Malbec wine tasting Sept 30
Rum tasting October 14
Gin tasting November 4

Contact Chris at 0151 924 9185, or check out the tea room Facebook page – follow them on Twitter @dacecrosby  – or Instagram  @dace_tearoom

Watch this and you’ll crave a G&T …..

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Wine diet. Well not quite. Wine and a diet? Perhaps.

Wine diet wine reviews

I’m on one of those diets that allows you to eat lots of meat, pasta and rice. I’m also allowed  limited ‘treats’ and mine’s a four letter word.  Wine.  A wine diet. 

I’m not really on a wine diet. I’m on a diet with glasses of wine.  But I guess you know what I mean. Dieting and wine isn’t the best combo, but on our mutual journey of discovering wine I still have to be a passenger information service. It’s my duty to keep on trucking. 

Now then, if you’re calorie conscious, here’s a thought.

A large glass of 13% abv wine (250ml) could be as much as 228 calories. If  you can’t visualise 250ml, it’s a third of a bottle. That’s an eek! and worth remembering when you glug wine into a glass after a long day at work.

Think on. The NHS says the average wine drinker takes in about 2,000 calories in alcohol a month; and drinking five pints of beer a week adds up to 44,2000 calories a year.  To check out calories of your favourite tipple,  the NHS has some basic guidance here.

Here’s some wines I sampled with my diet meals. They’re NOT low-calorie wines.  I refuse to drink faddy low-calorie wines.
My heart sinks.  Where’s the ‘treat’ in that? Enjoy nice wines, I say, just enjoy them with one sensible eye on the calories.

My wine diet reds:

Château Lalande AOP Cabardès 2013 (
13% abv £6.99 selected Co-op stores) This red from the south of France is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and grenache. On the nose there’s plum and cherry fruits, a brush of lavender, a dabble with kirsch. Vanilla? Yes lots of it. It’s a nice drop of red but the aromas win out as in the mouth the spice and acidity zip past the fruit flavours.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was schezuan pepper steak with couscous  – pictured at the top of this blog with baked sweet potato strips.)

Château Pey la Tour Réserve, Bordeaux Supérieur (14% abv, £11.50  A deep ruby red wine from Entre Deuxs Mers, it’s a typical Bordeaux blend, with  merlot leading from the front with a small amount of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.  This réserve wine is aged in oak for 12 months, some of it new, which adds to the flavour intensity. Aromas of fresh plums, splintered wood and vanilla don’t dilly and dally; they have you hooked from the off, before leading you into soft flavours of ripe fruits with spicy flecks.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was lamb, baked with garlic, rosemary, leek and potatoes.)

My wine diet whites:

Reuilly Cuvée Nathalie 2014 (12.5% abv Majestic, £11.99 or £9.99 in a Buy Six deal) I just so loved this wine. This is a sauvignon blanc from Reuilly in the Loire and is made by Nathalie Lafond who took over the vineyard from her father. Sauvignon blanc sings here, but it’s not belting out signature tunes on full blast like some New World sauv blancs. The wine has lime and citrus oozing out of the glass, with a peep of apricots.  Crisp citrus fruits water the palate with an upright backbone of minerality. Delicious.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was baked cod with pea risotto.)

Most Wanted Sauvignon Blanc (12% abv RRP £8.99, Nisa, Booths, McColls and The team from Most Wanted has a vision to “get everyone to enjoy the world’s most wanted wines” at decent prices. This sauvignon blanc is from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and zipped and zinged as these NZ sauv blancs tend to do, with tropical fruits weaving in and out of the senses alongside citrus. It’s not an in-your-face sauv blanc which is good  if you don’t like your wines like that.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was spicy marinaded chicken with salad.)

Wine reviews first published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals September 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express