Christmas Stocking Fillers – 2014!



Each year at about this time (it’s mid-November as I write) I like to suggest some possible wine related presents that you might consider giving a wine enthusiast for Christmas.



A super introduction to Cava - an ideal stocking filler!
A super introduction to Cava – an ideal stocking filler!

A new, short, beautifully presented hardback book targeting those who love Cava but who don’t really know so much about it, is, I think, a perfect Christmas present. Whilst it’s pleasant enough to blindly continue drinking Cava, one will derive so much more from the glass of fizz in your hand, if you know a little more about it.


Written by my Swedish colleague and fellow Cava enthusiast, Anna Wallner, ‘CAVA: SPARKLING HAPPINESS’, published by Grenadine, gives the reader a short, informative, easy-reading introduction to the one of the loves of her life. The first page of the text, which follows some evocative opening photos, is entitled, ‘Bubbles Make You Happy’, and ends simply in, ‘Cheers!’ It’s wholly indicative of Anna’s viewpoint – Cava is often used for Celebrations, and this book is a celebration of Cava!


However, that’s not all, of course. Like myself, Anna does not subscribe to the school of thought that firmly places Cava (and other sparkling wines) in the ‘nice, but frivolous and inconsequential’, category. Whilst it’s true that there is no better drink for celebrating: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, exam success – well, everything, really; there is also far more depth to this very special drink.


Anna tells a little of the history of Cava, revealing some interesting facts. She discusses the geography of the DO Cava, the climate, soils, grape varieties and of course, the method by which Spain’s answer to Champagne is made. It’s fascinating and all written in a very reader-friendly style – in fact, most charmingly, given her passion for the subject and the occasional grammatical/syntactical error that can be expected from one for whom English is a second language!


I’m sure also, that many of use Cava as a wonderful aperitif – it’s thus employed almost exclusively in our house (though Sherry also has a significant input here!). But Anna takes the concept of pairing food with Cava further still. If it’s true that Cava matches brilliantly with all manner of amuse bouche, tapas, hors d’oeuvre etc, it doesn’t take a quantum leap in cerebral activity to extrapolate the idea and consider pairings for starters, main courses and desserts.


I literally read it from the front cover to the end, in one fell swoop, with glass of Cava in hand!


‘Cava Sparkling Happiness’ is available from  – search Cava: Sparkling Happiness.



Keep your sparkling wine fresh!
Keep your sparkling wine fresh!

I’m a great believer in Homeopathic Medicine – when it works! Unfortunately, for me at any rate, it doesn’t often do what it says on the tin!


I feel similarly about wine accessories – the often small accoutrements that make, or are supposed to make, our enjoyment of wine that much better (but not always small, consider, if you will, the large wonderfully designed wine decanters available nowadays).


Over the years I’ve tried a plethora of: corkscrews, bottle stoppers, aerators, bottle pourers, decanter cleaning tools etc and I’ve had mixed results. It seems that not all producers get it right for all their products. So I’m delighted to let you know about one new company, trading as, all of whose merchandise actually works!


Seems to me that all of their products (albeit, at the moment, a list in progress) will make excellent ‘stocking presents’ for the people in your life who love wine and want to be able to taste it when it’s at its best.


I’ve been extremely lucky recently to have been tasted many Spanish Sparkling Wines, and indeed the French imitation – Champagne! I’m working on some articles for Cork Talk as well as for the glossy, UK based, magazine, Glass of Bubbly ( and in the course of my research I have to have several bottles of fizz on the go (I know, it’s tough!). Part of my research is to see how the wine develops over a short period and to do this, one has to have a reliable Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper. It has to work!


Well I’m very impressed with the Bar Amigos Sparkling Wine Stoppers, which, as with their still wine stoppers, also come in a range of colours. After 24hrs and 48hrs the stopper came off the bottle with a pleasing ‘pop’ and the fizz inside was as active as when I’d first pulled the actual cork. It works!


The still wine bottle stopper also works a treat. Wine bottles I’ve closed with this small, user-friendly pump action device have kept the wine fresh for days when housed in the fridge, which is excellent for those of us who want a glass of wine on occasion, but don’t want to empty the bottle. It’s also very useful, for example, if you’d like a glass of rosado with your aperitif, a glass of white with your starter and a glass of red with your main course – allowing you to do the same the next night and the following night+!


Perhaps most impressive was the wholly beneficial effect that the Bar Amigos new generation Wine Aerator had on a four year old wine that I brought out of my ‘cellar’ and opened immediately. A simple test where we tasted a wine when poured straight into the glass, against the same wine poured through the aerator, was – well, astonishing, is about the beast word I can use! Immediately accessible, aromatic with full, balanced fruit delivery. Top marks.

An excellent innovation - your fine wine ready to drink on opening!
An excellent innovation – your fine wine ready to drink on opening!

Finally, though there are more products that I’ve yet to test, simple though it may sound, they also make a very effective decanter washing brush, and wine glass washing brushes, designed in different shapes for different styles of glasses. They work, too! Bar Amigos products are available and


PS You may also be interested in a New Year present to yourself(ves) – I’m taking a group March 23rd – March 27th 2015 for a fantastic 5-day wine and culture coach trip to beautiful Segovia and Toro. Boutique hotels; two bodega visits, tours and lunches; cultural visits; and lots more! I have just 8 places left. Please contact me or call me 629 388 159 for more details

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