WITH The first solo project for the new royal is a cookbook which is helping to raise money for the Grenfell community
I WAS asked to do a little bit of a talk the other day. On wine by the way, as I’m not much of an expert on the effects of climate change on bird migration or the politics of 20th century China.
I thought yes, wine, I’m better suited to that. People can enjoy a little glass or two of something as well, which is much more interesting on a Saturday afternoon than hearing about the Qing dynasty.
Two wines in particular delivered an “ooh, aah” factor from my enthused bunch of sippers. The bottles were both English sparkling wines at opposite ends of the style and price spectrum.
Balfour 1503 Foxwood Classic Cuvée NV (£17.99, the Co-op, 11.5% abv)
THE Duchess of Sussex has lent her support to a new cookbook of 50 recipes from women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. Meghan cooked with women from the Hubb Community Kitchen and collaborated with the women to create, Together – Our Community Cookbook.
Her mother Doria Ragland even made a surprise appearance for Meghan’s first royal solo project, proudly telling guests: “Hi, I’m Meg’s mom.”
Meghan, 37, told guests she had felt “immediately embraced” by the women when she started working on the book.
She also spoke passionately of how the multicultural Hubb Community Kitchen made her feel welcome in the capital.
It comes after it was revealed that Meghan made secret trips in January to a mosque to cook with the Hush Heath Estate in Kent by winemakers Victoria Ash and Owen Elias and is a blend of the three grapes allowed in the Champagne region.
Did you know that most English sparkling wines use the same grapes as champagne? Our winemaking skills are increasing, we’re investing more in the industry, our vineyards are maturing, and climate change is allowing us to grow grapes to perfect ripeness. Move over Champagne, we’re on our way. survivors of the tower-block blaze, which killed 72.
The duchess said: “I had just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women of the kitchen.
“Your warmth and your kindness, and also to be in this city and see in this one small room how multicultural it was.
“I felt so proud to live in a city that can have so much diversity. That there are 12 countries represented in this one small room is pretty outstanding.”
Yoga teacher Doria, 62, flew in from her home in Los Angeles to join Meghan and Prince Harry in celebrating the launch, in a tent at Kensington Palace, West London.
Mum and daughter were seen laughing warmly during their first public outing since Meghan wed Harry, 34, in May.
The trio chatted with guests
Balfour is a blend of pinot noir (63%) chardonnay (35%) with a touch of pinot meunier and has a woosh of fruit notes, with green apples, a shortbread of apple tart and a good flash of citrus. It’s a great value English sparkling if you’re having a celebration and want to dip your toe in for the first time, so to speak.
My final wine received the biggest wow of the day. Digby 2010 Vintage Reserve Brut (£39.99, digby-fine-english. com, or £35, thechampagne company.com, 12% abv) is a blend of those same grapes, with 65% chardonnay and the pinots sharing an almost even split.
The grapes for Digby’s flagship wine are sourced from the chalky soils of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset. The bubbles are and families affected by the fire, and made their way around four food stations, with Meghan helping to cook.
Residents left homeless by the blaze last June came together to open the Hubb Community Kitchen, but could only fund it for a short period of time.
It is hoped sales of the book, which Meghan called a “tremendous labour of love”, will help the kitchen extend opening from its current
persistent and elegant, the aromas deliver a subtlety of spring flowers, fresh and dried apples, a peep of brioche and a shiver of lemon. In the mouth the fresh fruit notes are rich, the acidity all-embracing and the finish is long and delicious. It’s a showstopper.
■ Also in my glass... I’m a bit sad when people say their favourite wine is PG (my shorthand for pinot grigio). I’ll then enthuse about PG Tips, which are my recommendations for much tastier white wines (in my humble opinion). Don’t be stuck in a pinot grigio rut, I say.
Then along comes a pinot grigio which is rather nice and I have to eat my words (or perhaps drink them). This is the case with Seven Numbers 3 Pinot Grigio two days a week to seven for the next two years.
The duchess added: “I’m especially grateful because this is my first project, so I appreciate your support for the vision that I had for this and seeing it come to fruition. It truly took a village to see this through.”
Here are three recipes from the book to try at home.
■ Together – Our Community Cookbook, pictured left, Foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex (Ebury Press, £9.99)
2016 (RRP £16, woodwinters. com, 14% abv) which won the 2018 The Drinks Business Global Pinot Grigio Masters Awards. This Slovenian wine may stretch the purse strings a bit more than you’re used to for a PG, but it’s worth it.
It is made by winery Puklavec and the grapes are fermented and aged in Slovenian oak, delivering a wine with a soft mouthfeel, expressive ripe notes of apple and pear, a hint of peach, in a silky sheen of vanilla. The taste sensation is delightfully in balance and long-lasting.
■ Jane is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. Find her on social media and online as One Foot in the Grapes.
Mucking in: Meghan helps out at Hubb
Proud parent: Mum Doria with Meghan and Harry
Community: Meghan mingles with families
Hug: Meghan with women affected by the Grenfell tragedy
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