The Raise a Glass feature is published every week … here’s one from early lockdown when my life was full of sunshine, Zooms and cocktails. I joined a fascinating chat with Philip Cox and discovered some of his Cramele Recas wines from Romania.
Ok. Here’s my latest lockdown lifestyle. I realise its difficult to get out and about as much as we did so there’s not much point me saying Buy this! Buy that! Go there! Go here!
But by sharing some of things I’ve been sipping I hope it inspires you to stay calm and carry on. And if you can get hold of any of the wines I mention here then that can only be a good thing.
Along with the rest of the world, I’m spending much of my time on Zoom.
I’m video-chatting about wine and occasionally I’m sipping it too with the people who create it.
Which is exactly what I did with Philip Cox. He’s a Brit and co-owner of Romanian winery Cramele Recas.
The winery – the biggest in Romania by volume and turnover – is behind some very price-friendly wines here in the UK.
Philip explains: “We try to make all of our wines over deliver quality at all price levels. We treat all the grapes with much care and attention.
“Romania isn’t a famous country and we have to over deliver to get anyone to buy it.
“That’s a good philosophy to have in good times and bad times. People eventually see there’s good value for money in our wine.”
Cramele Recas wines: Try these for starters
Arriving soon into Waitrose is Sorcova Pinot Grigio 2019 and it’s so new I can’t even tell you what the price will be. But I can tell you that when it arrives it will fill your glass with honeysuckle, grapefruit, lemon and pears.
[Update! The wine is now available for £7.79]
If you like sauvignon blanc, I bet you’ll like this. Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala 2019 (ASDA, £5.25) is aromatic and sprightly. It is lemony and peachy with a tiny bit of spice.
One of Cramele’s success stories is Incanta Pinot Noir 2019 (£7.99, or £6.49 in a buy six deal at Majestic). Black fruits and raspberries are supported by herbal and savoury notes. It’s great value for a pinot.
Selene Feteasca Neagra 2018 (online at Tanners Wines, £16.50) is dusky with damson, cherries, blackcurrants and subtle violets. It’s a delight with a steak (I know this first hand!)
A shepherd’s pie and then a gin
Elsewhere …. I cooked a shepherd’s pie and sipped it with a new kid on the block Elegant Frog Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon (£8, Sainsbury).
The red is a blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon, with the malbec just taking the upper hand in percentage terms.
I cooked comfort food and took additional comfort from the wine.
It’s ruby red, with heaps of black fruit, and a gentle shiver of spice from some oak aging in American oak.
Finally, I’ve continued to make lockdown cocktails using whatever I have to hand. This one is the simplest so far: A gimlet.
All I needed was 60ml of gin, and 15ml of lime juice.
I’d been inspired by a post I saw on Instagram and used 15ml of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial.
That was it. I shook it well in my cocktail maker, with ice. I then strained into a glass with a couple of cubes of ice.
It was very tasty indeed! Remember – if you don’t have a cocktail maker you can just as easily use a jam jar (oh, and I use my old tea strainer).
First published in UK regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo –South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express