Win two tickets to the Love Wine 2015 festival in Birmingham

Love WIne 2015 festival

If you love wine, here’s a heads-up … there’s a brand-new wine experience coming to Birmingham and I have a pair of tickets to give away!!

Love Wine 2015 festival, Birmingham
The Love Wine 2015 festival takes place in Birmingham

What’s not to love. Well, there’s all this to love …

LOVE WINE 2015 takes place on November 7th at the Hotel du Vin in Birmingham and there’ll be at least 200 wines to taste, PLUS a chance to meet amazing wine blogger Helen McGinn (Knackered Mother’s Wine Club) and Joe Wadsack, the TV pundit on  BBC’s Food and Drink show.

If that’s not enough, and you love wine, there are also free Love-In sessions to learn about our favourite drink, some presented by Master of Wine Richard Bampfield.

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The event was created by wine professional Laura Clay and the team at BYWine. Laura was frustrated that that no wine event of any significance ever takes place in Birmingham.  LOVE WINE 2015 is the result … you can read more about the event on Laura’s blog here.

Oh, I should mention that everyone who visits the festival gets to take away a Riedel wine glass  AND a free goody bag, worth more than £13.

All this for £20 (or less if you buy group tickets). For more information and to buy a ticket go to


Saturday 7th November 2015
Session One: 11.30am – 3pm
Session Two: 4pm – 7.30pm

How to win a pair of Love Wine 2015 tickets

All you have to do is follow @lovewine_fest and @claretsgirl (that’s me) on Twitter and then tweet ….
Hey @claretsgirl I love #wine too and I’d love to win tickets for @lovewine_fest  #birmingham
It’s not too difficult is it? Good luck – and closing date for entries is 10pm, Sunday November 1st.
PS – The prize would be for Session One.

Wine Press: Christmas gift ideas for people in your life who like wine

The Big ‘O’ Red Wine Set from Riedel

Is it really that time of year again? Have you done your shopping yet? To be clear, I mean your Christmas shopping, not this weekend’s Big Shop.

If you have a wine lover in your life, or anyone who enjoys a tipple as a tonic, then here’s a handful of Christmas gift ideas. The only science applied is that if I ripped the wrapper off any of these, I would be a happy bunny.

I’ve had some complicated corkscrews in the past, designed by people who don’t want to crack open a bottle in a rush. Find a corkscrew with statement; not least so that if anyone takes it away at a party you can spot it at their house fairly easily.

fish corkscrew
Fish corkscrew from the RNLI

I love the simple little fish corkscrew from the RNLI website. (£12.95, It’s a fun little thing in a fish shape with a foil cutter and corkscrew featuring white oak wood and stainless steel. It supports a very important charity too, with 100% of profits helping to fund ​ their lifesaving service.

Christmas gift ideas: Anna G, the corkscrew from Alessi
Anna G, the corkscrew from Alessi

A wine opener with style, and oodles of it, is Anna G, the corkscrew from Alessi, with her smiling face, quirky haircut, and vintage dress. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Alessi has released special limited editions. It’s a pressie for someone you love very much, at £59. For stockist details go to

Christmas gift ideas: The Big ‘O’ Red Wine Set from Riedel
The Big ‘O’ Red Wine Set from Riedel

It’s useful to have a glass, or things could get messy. Riedel designs glasses around different types of wine grapes; the belief is that the correct selection of glass shape highlights the individual styles. The Big ‘O’ Red Wine Set (£37.50, includes three glasses for syrah, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. Dear Santa, please don’t drop these when you bring them down my chimney.

Christmas gift ideas: Personalised wine bottle stopper from Menkind
Personalised wine bottle stopper from Menkind

You can have a special nickel plated wine bottle stopper engraved with your personal message (£15.99, from Mine would say “hands off”.

Christmas gift ideas: Fun "birdie" markers for your wine glass from Lakeland
Fun “birdie” markers for your wine glass from Lakeland

For little stocking fillers, hop along to Lakeland for some cute birdy wine glass markers (£6.99 for a set of six, Clip one on the side of your glass and no more debates over “that’s my drink, not yours”.

Christmas gift ideas: Wine bottle gift tags from The National Gallery
Wine bottle gift tags from The National Gallery

From the National Gallery, some sweet bottle gift tags (£2.50 for four) with the message ♪Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la ♪.

The gallery has its own wine range too, Delicious Art, with beautiful art depicted on the labels. (A mixed Bordeaux case of six is £80).

Christmas gift ideas: Bordeaux from the National Gallery's Delicious Art range
Bordeaux from the National Gallery’s Delicious Art range

For a Boxing Day walk (or, in my case, more likely a football match) WH Smith has the feminine Katarina Hip Flask, prettily decorated with flowers (£11.99). It can hold a warming nip of 170ml.

Christmas gift ideas: Katarina Hip Flask from WH Smith
Katarina Hip Flask from WH Smith

A “daft not to” gift would be £40 life membership of award-winning The Wine Society ( which sells some brilliant price-friendly wines.

Talking of which … the society has an offer on Spanish wines which runs until December 17 or until stocks last. Wines include best value for money reds, rioja, hidden gems and sherry.

imageOne is Malabarista Tempranillo-Garnacha Navarra 2012 (£6.25 bottle). Light, bright and worryingly easy to drink, this tempranillo and garnacha blend is pleasingly versatile. The light oak worked well with cheese and meat, and on its own too. Light as it was, it went well with pork chops, and might not have had enough body to partner up with a steak. Don’t let the contemporary label design put you off, this is a classic red.

Simonnet_Saint Bris Sauvignon BottleIn my glass …. An old-world sauvignon which has all the freshness, clarity and appeal of a New Zealand Marlborough. Simonnet-Febvre Saint-Bris Sauvignon (Waitrose, £9.99) lacks the oiliness and depth of many of its French counterparts. But it makes up for its superficial nature with a clean, sharp approach that suits anything grilled or a Sunday lunchtime roast.

This first appeared in the saturday extra magazine November 22, 2014 

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