In a month marking the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, the fleet of Dunkirk Little Ships cruising up the Thames for their annual reunion lunch at Weybridge Mariners Club seemed very poignant.
Many had Chelsea Pensioners on board, some of them on the actual little ship that had rescued them in June 1940.
Next month, once again, our attention will be drawn to Remembrance Day pageants with a key focus on the British Legion and its work, required all year round, not just on Poppy Day.
Daniel Thwaites brewery is a regular Legion supporter, guaranteeing a minimum of £10k a year linked to sales. So we can enjoy a beer and do a little bit for the Legion at the same time.
The ‘Lancaster Bomber’ brew is in major supermarkets at around £1.80 a bottle. An excellent 4.4 per cent abv real ale with good hoppy aroma, it is increasingly found on draught, at The Boaters riverside pub at Kingston-upon- Thames, for example.
“Successfully selling a northern beer to southern drinkers means you’ve cracked it,” say Thwaites.
Their ‘Wainwright’ is named after the famous fell-walking author of the ‘Coast to Coast’ books. Brewed “for modern tastes”, it is slightly lighter at 4.1 per cent, blond, still hoppy but a bit sweeter. My local Waitrose stocks it at £1.79 a 500ml bottle. Nice beer. Worth a try and support the Legion.
Most of us now venture beyond the main stream wine countries in search of different flavours, so why not try Eastern Europe and in particular Hungarian?
My tasting panel has been sampling the ‘Riverview’ range from the Hilltop estate overlooking the Danube near Budapest. These are modern wines for easy drinking with screw caps and reasonably priced at the RRP of £3.99 for red, whites and rosés.
Modern style they are, but Hungarian wine growing dates back to Roman times. They have their own grape varieties, like Cserszegi Fuszeres and Kiralyleanyka but they also make from the mainstream stalwarts like Merlot and Chardonnay.
I found the Riverview Merlot at my local Budgen’s store on offer at three for £10. This is quite fruity, a pleasant sundowner which moved easily into supper. “Nice, fresh, clean,” declared the panel.
We tasted Riverview Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio against a South African Chardonnay. The Riverview was judged slightly drier and fuller flavour. Another good cockpit wine.
Hungarian wine’s distribution is patchy, often better in second tier supermarkets but Waitrose stocks a nice Chenin blanc/Pinot Grigio/Kiralyleanyka mix from the Hilltop estate, named Eva’s Vineyard, also at £3.99. Find more on www.taketheriverview.com
Anything stating ‘Tokaji’ will be Hungarian. One gem is Disznoko Tokaji Aszu, a rich ripe fruit-tasting sweet dessert wine from the Disznoko estate, dating back to 1772. It’s not cheap, as any pudding wine, at £22.45 (Waitrose) for a 12 per cent 500ml bottle, so definitely a sipper with delicate desserts or blue cheeses. Classy and Hungarian.