Thursday, 28 April 2011

Roll out the barrel for a right Royal romantic street party

Never let it be said that the drinks trade doesn't know a bandwagon when it sees one. Tomorrow's royal wedding has prompted all manner of English beer and wine producers to bring out special editions of their wares, in the hope that we will grab a bottle of their particular brew as part of our patriotic celebrations.

Windsor and Eton go for the romantic angle
Beer has more flexibility than wine when it comes to releasing short-lived special editions – along with a well-known penchant for punning labels. Windsor Knot Ale, produced by the Windsor and Eton brewery, is “yours to have and to hold, while stocks last” and available from Taurus Wines of Bramley for the, ahem, princely sum of £1.99 a bottle, or £39.99 for a case of 24. It has, apparently, a refreshing taste and exotic fruit aroma.

Suitably kitsch label from Castle Rock
Nottingham-based Castle Rock brewery's Kiss Me Kate ale has managed to garner international attention, with Time Magazine, CNN and French TV channel M6 all giving it exposure. Nottingham is a long way to go to sample the draught version, but Morrison's are stocking the bottled incarnation for £1.50.

Adnam's good taste label
Adnams have, we hope, put more effort into the brewing than they have into the naming of their unimaginatively titled Royal Wedding Ale. We are pleased to note, however, that one of the key ingredients is heather honey – bound to be delicious!

Buckingham Palace has thus far refused to lift the veil on what wine will be served at the wedding breakfast, but we can only hope that they have done the decent thing and chosen at least one English wine to toast the happy couple.

Our home produced wines get better with each passing year and some of the sparkling wines produced in this country certainly bear comparison with many from around the world. We may not have anything quite to rival Dom Perignon just yet, but there are many English fizzes which consistently scoop international awards and deserve our support.

So what are you eating on THE DAY? Perhaps simple but always welcome British bangers with a home-made English apple chutney, or more sophisticated fare such as Scottish smoked salmon with Hampshire watercress and Devon crème fraiche. Or maybe you are going to be cooking up what is now recognized as the most popular English national dish, curry. Whatever your choice, have fun and the following wines will add a festive sparkle to your celebrations.

Camel Valley in Cornwall is on a roll, with a list of awards as long as your arm, including a gold medal and trophy for best sparkling rosé in the world at last year's International Wine Challenge for their 2008 Pinot Noir Rosé Brut. That vintage has, not surprisingly, sold out, but you can try their Camel Valley Brut 2008 for £22.95 at Waitrose.

Closer to home, Mike Roberts of Ridgeview vineyards in Ditchling, Sussex was one of the first to insist on using the classic Champagne grape varieties, when many English winemakers were trying to fashion a silk purse out of the sow's ear of hybrid varieties like Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner. His dedication has paid off and, for our money, offers the most consistently successful range of English fizzes around. His 100% chardonnay Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2006 scooped the award for best sparkling wine in the world at last year's Decanter World Wine Awards and is available online at for £24.95. And remember, these are competitions where wines are tasted blind against the best of the best, including smart Champagnes.

Nyetimber, near Chichester, make only sparkling wine and set their sights on making the best quality fizz since day one, back in the mid-nineties. Word has it that her Madge (by which we mean the Queen, not Madonna) has previously served Nyetimber wines to visiting foreign dignitaries (we do hope it was Jacques Chirac). Will she stick with the tried and tested? Their 2001 Blanc de Blancs won a well-deserved gold medal at the International Wine Challenge last year and you can pick up a bottle for yourself for £24.99 from Taurus Wines of Bramley.

Some of our homegrown wine producers are commercially savvy enough to spot a royal marketing opportunity and a few have managed to bring out limited editions of their wines to tie in with the wedding.

Chapel Down, England's largest wine producer, has brought out a special edition sparkler called The Union 2006, a blend of chardonnay for elegance and finesse and pinot noir, which gives depth and texture. You can get hold of it to celebrate along with Will and Kate (or save it for your own celebration) for £75 for 3 bottles from

If you'd like to celebrate with others, but don't have a street party in the offing, for £55 you can join Denbies for their Royal Wedding Celebration Ball, where you can eat from the same menu as was served to HRH the Queen and Prince Philip in 2004, accompanied by Denbies wines, of course. Tiaras optional.

If you are the creative type you can of course knit your own Royal wedding scene, likewise Lego have brought out their own version to build - even anticipating the marriage outfits. However if, like us, you do not feel the need to do anything other than pop a cork, then just relax and enjoy as you either shed a tear of joy at this happy and romantic national celebration of love, or just give hearty thanks for a day in the sun, released from the daily grind.

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