Cheese and Wine – what a great combination; and what a super idea for a birthday celebration!

I’ve been asked to present a private wine/cheese pairing evening towards the end of July as part of a week-long birthday celebration.

We’ll be enjoying wines from DO Alicante and DO Yecla, including an excellent red dessert style wine (think Port and Stilton, with a Spanish Spin!) and classic cheeses from Spain, claro, and France.

Envious? Well, I’d be delighted to do the same, or similar, for you too! Please e-mail or call (00 34) 629 388 159!

Yoga Holidays in Spain

Nicole and Gary of Yoga Breaks in Spain ( have asked me to present a wine tasting at the Michelin rated Hotel Tossal D’Altea, where this week’s Yoga Group from the UK are staying.

On Sunday we’ll be tasting four wines from Bodegas Castaño and Bodegas Sierra Salinas along with a super meal in the hotel’s classy restaurant.

Looking forward to it!!


Vince and me Podcasting!

Thursday 12th July saw me at Vince Tracy’s broadcasting studio in La Nucia ( where we enjoyed a recorded chat about wines, restaurants, rock music, football and other stuff of great interest to ourselves and hopefully to others too!

Vince has a huge following with something like 3,000 people regularly following his podcasts and his website, plus of course those who go to see his live performances, musical and comedy. He’s well known in the sports world, a Judo expert and accomplished footballer and rugby player as well as an ex-PE Teacher, like myself. He was born in the Wirral and is an avid Liverpool Football Supporter – we have a lot in common!

Something of a technophobe myself I was fascinated to learn more about the high-tech (to me at least) world of podcasting and I have to say that his flattering introduction to our podcast of yesterday (now available – click on the right side of the home page, Podcasts, Colin Harkness) is hardly deserved when compared to the hundreds of other interviewees, many of them famous from the world of Pop and Rock, Sport, Entertainment and even the odd Politician too (well, they’re all odd, aren’t they?!).


A great experience for me – and we’ve agreed to add to this starter, as time goes on, so please keep a look out on Vince’s website, !

In the Podcast hot-seat, with Vince in various guises behind!

First Published Costa News Group, July 2012



As I understand it the Guardia Civil is starting a purge on drivers driving under the influence from early July, I believe until towards the end of September, though I’m not certain of the dates. In fact, the campaign is, I think, focussing on driving under the influence of drugs. Drivers will be pulled over, for no apparent reason, and asked to take a saliva test, which should determine if they have been using any unlawful drugs. I’m sure we all approve.

Of course it doesn’t require a great deal of lateral thinking to realise that once a car is stopped, with a view to testing for drug abuse, the observant officer will notice any whiff of alcohol as well. Thus it can be said that the purge is indeed focussing on drivers being under the influence – be it drugs and/or alcohol.

Actually, whilst on my way to a School Prize Day recently, I was pulled over, initially, but then waived on with a polite ‘Gracias, puede continuar, Señor.’. A few younger male drivers were detained longer, I noticed, as I gratefully and quite rightly, as I certainly was not under any influence, did as the officer said. My guess is that the jovenes had in fact been stopped for the reason above and that therefore the purge has started early. So I think it’s apt that I give you a timely, but tasty reminder that we should all be drinking responsibly.

There is a huge wine orientated group in Spain that can count many bodegas in its ranks – Grupo Matarromera. Readers may remember the Vintae White Wine Guerillas; Emina Wines and several other wines and bodegas from a number of different producing areas. Well they are all part of the group.

And Emina can boast the first wholly alcohol free wines in Spain, we are talking 0·0  abv here! Of course the above is a very good reason for the drivers amongst us to be partaking of such wines only – and there is a large range from which to choose, so there’s really no excuse. Except, perhaps availability?

I’ve now showcased two of the Emina Zer0.0 wines on Bay Radio during the monthly wine/food pairings part of Bob and Noelle’s Sunday Brunch Programme (next one – Sunday 8th July, 12:00 – 13:00 hrs, click Listen Live) and each time the studio has received several requests from listeners asker  where these wines can be found. Unfortunately I’m still in the dark – but I have referred people to the website where they will of course be available.

It’s clear there is a demand for such wines and there should be one that suits everybody as they list White, Rosado, Red and Cava-style Sparkling wines, plus white, rosado and red in small handy cans which have had some carbonated mineral water added to make them a very refreshing and easily transportable addition to the cool-box for the beach, picnics etc!

But of course it’s not only the drivers who may have the need of alcohol-free wines. Although I read recently that there is a medical school of thought that believes small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy will not be detrimental to the unborn baby, I’m sure all mothers-to-be will avoid it. So the idea of pleasant tasting alcohol-free wines and sparklers will be something of a godsend for new mothers who like to join friends in bars and at each other’s homes and still feel part of the party mood.

Similarly there are many who for medical reasons must abstain from all alcohol, be it just in the short term, or longer and sometimes permanently. Again such sufferers can suffer a little less now that they can be included, drinking from a regular wine and/or cava bottle.

And of course the same applies to those whose religious convictions don’t allow them alcohol as well as those who simply don’t like the taste of alcohol laced drinks! Manna from heaven!

However the key phrase here is, ‘pleasant tasting’. I remember my two restaurants in the UK where I prided myself on the wine list – apart that is from the two non-alcohol wines which were there for the reasons above but which were, for me undrinkable, although they sere a couple of the best available at the time! Well don’t worry Emina Zer0.0 wines are many cuts above the lowly level of the 90s.

Emina Zer0.0 Red is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes which were fermented in the usual way then once wine, the alcohol was taken out by centrifugal force. On the first hit you’d easily be fooled into thinking that it was regular, light drinking red wine. It’s had some oak ageing too, which does add a little depth. It was a hit at Bay Radio!

I have a glass of Emina Zer0.0 white in front of me now. Straw tones with gleaming lime notes make it most attractive in the glass. On the nose there are whiffs of Verdejo characteristics, some vegetal notes with gooseberry fruit, some citrus and herbs. In the mouth it’s refreshingly light and I found that it was best when drunk as many of us do, without using traditional tasting methods – just drink in quite large sips – lovely, as our 7-year-old said!

The Rosado is also made with Tempranillo but with the addition of Verdejo, in fact from wines made in the DO Cigales area, close to Verdejo’s spiritual home in DO Rueda. A very pretty colour in the glass, perhaps similar to a new young mother’s blush as she tells her parents-in-law that she has just found out she’s pregnant. I’m such a romantic, don’t you think?!

The sparkling Emina Zer.00 of course comes in a traditional cava bottle and also enjoys the celebratory pop and whoosh as the cork is extracted – a perfect way to celebrate the news! It’s made with Verdejo too and is an interesting variation on cavas made with the traditional grape varieties and on other sparklers made with different varieties.

All three cans of Zero with carbonated water were also enjoyed, one most refreshingly on the beach in fact.

So there you have it – a good time, enjoying a glass or two of wine, but without the alcohol!

Contact Colin: ; plus if you are looking for a wine tasting and/or a bodega visit please go to