The privately-owned Lakeside Hotel and Spa, on the southern tip of Windermere, in the Lake District, is the quintessentially English hotel. It is the sort of place you would love to hibernate in over the winter months, soaking up the picturesque views of the lake and gardens during the day and spending your evenings sitting round a cosy fire with a glass of red wine (or for those who don’t drink, a hot chocolate).
|Lakeside Restaurant, Lakeside Hotel and Spa|
Their wine cellar lists over 200 wines, so I thought I would pick the brains of house manger Marcus Newhouse for some tips on choosing some winter warmers.
“Trends in wines seem to have stabilised now,” says Marcus. “Five or six years ago, there was a focus on New World wines, but I think that has changed. The French are more relaxed in their approach. They have different marketing and labelling. Spain also produces some good wines, and Portugal’s have become more accessible as it turns its emphasis away from producing port, which has a high alcohol content, to concentrate on table wine.”
Ramos Pinto, part of the Champagne Louis Roederer group, produce some excellent Portuguese wines. The hotel has recently added Duas Quintas white to its list which it claims is a “UK exclusive”.
I also like Duas Quintas red 2010 (£10.75, oddbins.com), a fruity yet complex wine with a hint of freshness. Smooth on the palate, it makes a good aperitif and goes well with red meat, chicken or pasta.
“Germany produces well-balanced wines with the right amount of acidity,” says Marcus. “They tend to be lower in alcohol – on average about two per cent – than the typical French or Spanish wine and even three per cent lower compared to the New World,” he adds.
He recommends a good German riesling such as Vollrads Riesling Kabinett 2009, from the hotel’s list. This is an aromatic, dry, good-bodied wine with lychee and lime flavours and makes a good alternative to sancerre.
|Duas Quintas red|
One to try at home is Berrys' Mosel Riesling Kabinett 2010 (£9.75) from Berry Bros & Rudd. It is a lovely, light, crisp wine with just the right amount of sweetness.
The days of grapes being in or out of fashion are over, according to Marcus. He likes to match the style of food to a wine of that country. At the hotel, they often suggest having different wines with each course as they have a good selection on offer by the glass.
If you want to open a bottle at home you can keep it up to four or five days as long as it is well sealed, though Marcus hastens to add it won’t taste as good by then.
A bottle gives you approximately four 175ml glasses (approximately 2-3 units per glass). “Drink what you enjoy,” says Marcus.”Sometimes a white wine such as a full-bodied viognier can work with red meat, while a red wine such as a light pinot noir can work with fish.”
For Christmas, a glass of champagne is almost obligatory. Louis Roederer, a deliciously rich and elegant full-bodied wine, is the hotel’s house bubbly. This is one of my own favourite non-vintage champagnes. You can buy it from bbr.com (£37.55).
Marcus also suggests trying some of the smaller producers such as Joseph Perrier whose champagnes offer excellent value for money.
A bottle of champagne is equivalent to five glasses of 150ml (approximately 1.8 units per glass.). Even if you use a proper champagne cork, (apparently, teaspoons don’t stop it going flat) Markus advises drinking it within 24 hours.
Either red or white wine will go with the turkey. “Stick with a grape you like and try wines from different countries. If you normally drink a merlot from Australia, try one from France, if you like a Côtes du Rhône, try an Australian Shiraz.”
If you are entertaining and don’t know what wines to choose, the safe bets, in Marcus’s opinion are sauvignon and merlot.
By Daralyn Danns
For more info on the Lakeside Hotel visit www.lakesidehotel.co.uk