• Victory London - from Churchill to Cold Distilled Gin

    I love a good hand signal.

    Whether for the positive or negative I just love a good hand gesture.

    Hand loaded pops seem to be confined to the coast to coast hipper hoppers of urban hoodlum hi-jinkers these days.

    Da trend became overloaded in the nineties and noughties. The fashion was pushed to the very edges of fingered alchemy with futile comprehension that only tested those in the know.

    The beauty of many designated fingers and thumbs was blown into spheres of history.

    Now, a hand drawn finger thumb display towards a glancing gopher or hypnotised hawk has been forgotten amongst certain classes, culture or generation. The purification of a decent hand joust has been forgotten during this intermitting era

    But we have been saved!

    The two fingered Churchill salutation has arrived and thank Robin Hood fook!

    I always presumed Churchill didn’t like me in his black and white war distilled glorified image but this well crafted industrialist salute makes me welcome.

    I AM FOR THE GIN. Made a girl blind gin… Hogarth prints in waiting GIN. Too much to handle, ramble amble GIN.

    Its here! And bloody good so.

    Cold pressed gin for the steely. Cold pressed for the weary. Cold hearted dearly.

    Love it

    Reminds me of tainted youth…

    Old man mentality with middle delinquency

    Here’s the verb..

    A Modern Distillery In The Heart Of London

    VICTORY LONDON is situated right on Tower Bridge, on the south side of the river. In the basement of The Draft House Pub.

    They are a micro distillery specialising in Gin and Bitters (Amaro).

    At VICTORY they use a modern pharmaceutical technique to distil there products.

    They are true to the classic styles of spirit but produce them for a modern age.


    Our Gin is handcrafted using a unique, modern process which achieves maximum botanical freshness and reduces waste. VICTORY COLD DISTILLED GIN undergoes a 24-hour infusion with carefully selected botanicals including juniper, cassia, black pepper, chestnut and orange. The infused spirit is then cold-distilled at below 50 degrees celsius under reduced pressure. The used botanicals are then further infused in to water, this water is cold-distilled to produce an aromatic ‘hydro-sol’ this is then blended with the final gin. Bringing a unique and delicate aroma. We love their Gin and Tonic with a thin slice of pink grapefruit and an orange zest.

    THANKsssss guys

    Meat liquor for the hungry warmonger behemoth.


    Choked on it

    Thimble thread… Drop dead Fred.

    Can you tell?

    Am fam.

    East side hand B.I.G style

    read more ...

    Posted by Des Howartu
  • All about our Rioja wines

    I am a red man. Red in face when ran forth in exceeding speed. Red in face from the beating emissions of a sizzling yellow sun, especially upon my ginger haired paled faced complexion. Red in face when a dense and opulent bottled Spain slaps me with crimson tint awash. This is my beloved of the few that do, although a randy red is the peek. From belly bursts to faceted face I totter in admiration for this fine region of red. It’s been my staple through the student years. A firm favourite in the hedonistic raving 20’s and now that I approach the early mid thirties it seems to have bounced upon my brow once more. I almost feel that alcohol was invented for me with the creation of Alco-pops in my teens, Jager-bombs in my twenties and the explosion of regional craft beers in my thirties but back to the wine. The red red wine…

    RIOJA IS ITS NAME and in this world of plenty for the fortunate it has tested time with its quenchable beauty. From ancient Romans introducing the vineyards, to medieval pilgrim’s traipsing through and taking the wine to many quarters of Europe. From Don Manuel Quintano visiting Bordeaux and taking the formula of oak barrels, thus increasing shelf life and rapid expansion to the Americas. To the mass devastation of the Bordeaux wine industry by vineyard sapping bugs called by a certain Doctor Who the Phylloxera. Who in-turn pushed the French to the region of Rioja and brought about style, skills and knowledge to the area that was exponentially reused. Recently the modern Rioja has taken on a couple of World Wars, when the vineyards were replanted with wheat to feed the populace and not replanted till the 1960s, however from this did bring upon the peek vintage of 1970. The 80’s saw high prices but low quality due to mass investment and over saturation. It seems the region got its funk back in the early 90’s and from then on the region was awarded the Denominación de Origen Calificada. It’s title of premier wine constituency.

    Thank you, Wiki.

    But why does this boy babble with booze on a very typical wine in which most of us have consumed by the pint and given no toss to the cheap cost of hoofing down the plonk of a questionably respectable six quid bottle… or maybe that’s just me. Was me. Very rarely me it seems, these days. Old student habits Diehard. Great film! Love da Bruce. Although he is a whiner instead of a wino when it comes to interviews, and seems a bit of an arse if you listen to Kevin Smiths You tube speeches. Sorry I digress. Back, to the babble.

    Why do I babble? Well, there’s a new boy or girl or transgender or whatever we want on the block - Milu Bicicleta Voladora. It’s from the same makers as one of our best selling reds, you may have heard or drank called Milu.

    Here the new wine is an old wine. Instead of the oak aged process that was craftily taken from the French all those moons ago here one of our favourite winemakers German R Blanco (Bond villain in waiting indeed) has gone back to push forward a fresher more modern take on Rioja. Fashion it seems circles and not just in fashion. This beauty of a young to be drank soon Rioja has a fresh fruity redness mixed with floral tone. This mainly Tempranillo with slight squeeze of Garnacha gives good acidity and tongue tints of tasty fairground treats such as candy floss flavoured quince. The work done on this bottle is kept to a minimum and the grapes left to speak for themselves. Cement tanks are used for fermentation leaving no cross over of manipulation. German is a great winemaker, with good moral principles in the manner of wine. He even blooming steps on the grapes from time to time.

    Now over to our legendary contender… a Rioja that has been here longer that the time I’ve committed to this dear bespoke wine and craft beer shop. Though I have only just reached the celebratory two month mark! I am as napoleon said. A shopkeeper… for this is a nation of such.

    Here is the classic.

    Decenio Las Orcas, Rioja. This titan of a glass is a real performer. Gracing the wooden boards of vineyard theatrics for years with its solid performances, tight grape line stability and quaffing vocabulary. It’s more for the autumn and winter months but during these chilly Easter spring eves it gone down like a Mark Rylance Shakespearean birthday performance at the Abby in the style of promenade. This bottle is my ideal from all those student years ago. It would have tipped oneself earlier to the revelries of a more superior recital of a scene I had rehearsed many a time. Think orange peel and frosty spice. Arnold Schwarzenegger cigar and un-trodden forest floor. This wine is purely Tempranillo and speaks volumes of its region. There’s so much variance in the land that this particular bottle takes in the nose of the mountains, the body of the river Ebro and the tail dipped in the Mediterranean atmosphere.

    Here be the food item to pair with such fine wines. As I am from the Red Rose of Lancashire, a northern pedigree chum I will bestow the beauty that is the humble making but complex tasting LANCASHIRE HOTPOT. The Rioja’s will blend the meat and juice quite finely, adding a delectable partner for each others grip as they ride down the Pleasure Beach double dipper hand in hand. Just don’t forget the side of red cabbage me duck!

    After the food is digested, here is a jingle to be danced amid red wine in hand. A playful ditty that chorally reminds this writer of hypnotic sunsets at the Café del Mar. It’s a transcendent tune to frisk with or just drink the plonk and wander amongst your own reminiscences.

    I would like to thank Chef Nigel Haworth for this supreme recipe:


    Serves 4

    1 kg under shoulder, neck and shin of lamb (Cut into 3-4cm thick pieces)· preferably regional lamb, 700g thinly sliced onions· 1kg peeled King Edward potatoes· 25g plain flour· 40g salted butter, melted· 150ml chicken stock· 3tsp sea salt· White pepper· Hotpot dish - stoneware, diameter 8"/21cm, height 3.5"/9cm·


    1. Season the lamb with 1 tsp of salt and a good pinch of pepper, dust with the flour. Put the lamb into the base of the hotpot dish.
    1. Sweat off the onions in 15g of butter with one tsp of salt for 4-5mins (to sweat is to cook without colour in a covered pan, on a moderate to hot temperature). Spread the onions evenly on top of the lamb in the hotpot dish.
    1. Slice the potatoes horizontally (2mm thick). Place in a medium size bowl; add the remaining 25g melted butter, season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of white pepper-mix well.
    1. Put the sliced potatoes evenly on top of the onions, reserving the best-shaped rounds for the final layer and add the chicken stock.
    1. Place the Hotpot, covered in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes on 180-200C (Aga equivalent bottom of the baking oven) then for approximately 2½ hours on 130C (Aga equivalent in the simmering oven).

    So they be the Rioja at you disposal from our quaint bespoke local wine shop. I do hope they may add some juice for the days squeeze.

    read more ...

    Posted by Des Howartu
  • January opening hours 2017

    Thank you to all our customers who shopped with us in 2016, we are taking a short break in early January and will be opening on Thursday 12th January. Hope you have a lovely start to the new year and we will see you back soon.


    read more ...

    Posted by Jana Post

  • Brief guide to sparkling wine (not just for NYE)

    Are you a fan of Cava or Prosecco? Have you tried English Sparkling wines? Do you save your pennies for real Champagne? Or will you be sipping Sparkling Rose as this year comes to a close? Once there was only the king of bubbles to consider, the almighty Champagne, nowadays sparkling wine is made all over the world, from different grapes, using different production methods. Here's a quick guide to help you pick something for your celebration. Let's pop the cork!

    Some people use the word Champagne to mean any sort of fizzy wine, but it is actually only a specific region in France where Champagne is made. Champagne can be made from three grapes: the white chardonnay and the red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier. The grapes won't be named on the label, but you may see the terms "blanc de blancs" which means that the wine is made exclusively from white grapes, or "blanc de noirs", indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties.

    The production of these delicate wines is a labour intensive, multi-step process making them pricey but you will have one of the best, most delicious and complex wine experiences. If you're looking for a good value, look for Champagnes from smaller producers who grow their own grapes.

    Hure Freres is a close-knit family business. Their work in vineyard has been fine tuned to cater to the needs of each individual parcel of their 10 acres estate. This is still an under-the-radar domaine, but it might not stay that way for long as these amazing wines are going from strength to strength each year.

    The Invitation Champagne (as the name might suggest) is their introdutory bottle. A lovely aperitif style of Champagne with clean fruits and plenty of bite.

    The Inattendue Blanc de Blancs vinified and aged in oak is fresh and mineral on the nose while the palate is rich and dense, yet balanced by a fresh acidity and lovely length.

    Lamiable Champagne Grand Cru comes from family run winery in the Grand Cru village Tours sur Marne, producing majority Pinot Noir blends.
    Their Champgne is medium-bodied with great minerality and acidity on the finish. With brioche and toasted almonds flavours with hints of apricot. Enjoyable now; also has the potential to age for a few years. With a delicate mousse, this is a perfect apéritif.

    Agrapart & Fils Champagne AC NV Brut comes from a grower's champagne house based in Avize. The seven crus is a blend of seven of the Cote de Blanc's best villages including Avize, Cramant and Ogier. Creamy and buttery with baked apples on the nose, on the palate complex, savoury with an amazingly long palate.

    And finally, add some colour to your Champagne glass, with Champagne Rose Brut Chartogne-Taillet AC, a delicate salmon pink makes a very elegant rosé, with nuanced, layered red cherry and redcurrant fruit, underlined by subtle notes from the soil.

    Prosecco has earned a reputation as an affordable alternative to Champagne. This Italian bubbly is generally great choice for casual sipping, with larger bubbles and fruity, even sweet flavour.

    Our Modi is one of our all time best sellers, organic Prosecco relatively dry in style, with rich, floral notes, fruity, and with subtle almond flavours on the palate.

    Spain's contribution to the sparkling wine scene, Cava is a fresh, dry wine from mostly produced in the Catalan region. Using the same production method as Champagne but less manual handeling making it much less expensive. Cava tends to be drier and less fruity that Prosecco.

    Pago de Tharsys is a 12-hectare estate based at Requena, some 70 miles inland from Valencia on Spain's eastern coast. This Cava is dry with a vivacious mousse, this makes for a perfect aperitif. Aromatic notes of apricot, apple and pear light and fresh with a cleansing acidity and lingering finish.

    Now is the time to discover some home-grown bottles. Court Garden is a family-run, single-estate vineyard and winery in East Sussex, they grow all their grapes that fo into the wine they make. And in recent years this are passion has been rewarded with numerous national and international awards. The Court Garden sparkling wines are all hand-crafted using traditional grape varieties and bottle fermentation, where long ageing on the lees adds to the complexity of the flavour.

    The Classic Cuvee is Brut-style wine with continuous small bubbles. Toasty with creamy mousse and great freshness. Expect notes of under-ripe pineapple and greengage fruit and lovely long finish. Brilliant as an aperitif on its own or wonderful paired with seafood.

    The Blanc de Noirs is a fine fizz. Lovely delicate style with good balance between acidity and dosage. Elegant, structured and persistently flavoursome with fine bubbles. Orchard fruit, strawberry yoghurt and pastry. Delicious.

    La Rosita is our take on something out of the ordinary - Pamela Geddes of Lobban Wines comes from Aberdeen in Scotland and mastered the craft of making sparkling reds with 5 years in Australia. She's now based in Catalan region of Penedes. Her traditional method - bottle fermented - and late-disgorged sparkly is fresh with subtle red fruits and tiny lasting bubbles.

    read more ...

    Posted by Jana Post
  • Cook & Drink - Forest Wines Christmas Menu

    In collaboration with our favourite Clapton chef Nico Salzano of Dine with Nico, we have put together a great inspirational menu for the Christmas period. Often nothing but the traditional dishes will do for the Christmas Day. But we also know that many of our customers are keen cooks themselves, always trying new recipes and looking for the perfect wine to match their dishes. 

    With this in mind, we worked closely with Nico to create a three course menu that we hope will inspire you to try one of these dishes. They are exciting and will certainly impress your guests but also feasible to put together in your home kitchen, using plenty of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. 

    Jerusalem artichokes purée, confit duck egg yolk and truffle

    Nico poached the peeled Jerusalem Artichokes and added a dash of cream and butter before using a hand blender to create a smooth puree.

    To confit basically means to slow-cook an ingredient in fat. The term is often associated with duck confit, but can be employed for a host of ingredients. Confiting egg yolks is a modern technique, great for adding a little cheffy flair to home-cooked dishes. After separating the duck egg yolk from the whites, the yolk gets submerged in an oven-proof saucepan filled halfway with olive oil. When done (keep en eye on this as you don't want the yolk to overcook) remove the yolk with a slotted spoon so that your diners get the pleasure of breaking the yolk themselves.

    We have used our local Today sourdough bread to make sourdough croutons that will add a lovely crunchy texture. And the dish was garnished with some micro watercress and shaved summer truffle.

    And finally for the wine paring with this delicious starter - Silas has picked - Cabernet Franc from Chinon, France by Olga Raffaul. Les Picasses is a medium bodied wine with a lush, juicy texture and bright crisp acidity, red currants and wild strawberries combine with white pepper and savoury notes in an elegant bouquet. It is silky and flavoursome.


    Seared sirloin tip, celeriac purée, braised radishes and charred shallots

    The sirloin tip (also known as faux hanger or bavette) is one of the inexpensive cuts of beef that's also one of the most versatile. It takes great to fast-cooking methods that was used in this dish. It has a coarse texture that grabs onto marinades and seasonings well.

    Our Sirloin tip got pan fried dry on a very high heat. When Nico got a lovely colour all over the tip, he adds a bit of butter, thyme and a whole cloves of garlic and braises the meat with the juices as cooking. As this is a cheap cut of meat, it can get tough if over cooked. So it's recommended to be served rare to medium rare.

    The celeriac was boiled in milk, it's a great little tip that removes the distinctive pepperiness that some people might find a bit overwhelming. Once the celeriac is cooked, it gets pureed with a hand blender.

    The red wine jus reduction was made using our cheaper red Plot 22 Tempranillo, but any cheapish red wine will do. After pan frying shallots until softened, Nico added a splash of port, red wine and beef stock, and simmered it until reduced.


    To braise the radishes, they were cut in half, added to a deep pan and covered with water. Butter, olive oil, sugar and salt gets added and everything boiled until liquid gets reduced to a glaze. And finally to chargrill the onions, cut them in half and leave the skin on as it cooks them better.  Cook until charred on a dry pan.

    The whole dish was served with parley shoots and paired with Domino, expertly crafted blend form lots of native Portuguese grapes. This flavoursome dish just needed a good full-bodied red. It's got super fresh acidity with spicy peppery fruit and cedar, leather and clove.

    Poached pear, pear sorbet and speculoos crumble

    Nico poached two types of pears for his dessert- firmer one for poaching and second softer one pureed with the jus from poaching. The jus is simple mix of water, sugar & vanilla pod.

    To make the crumble, butter and flour gets rubbed with crushed speculoos biscuits simply using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. The mixture then gets sprinkled over a baking sheet and baked until lightly coloured.

    As our final dish, we thought we will make things easier here and not go as far as making our own ice-cream, even though you are more than welcome to do so, we picked small tub of salted caramel ice cream. Nico added a lovely orange tones to the dessert using tiny tagetes flowers that add not just great splash of colour to your dessert but also a subtle floral flavour. We paired the dessert with La Rosita sparkling rose, fresh wine with subtle red fruits and tiny lasting bubbles. 

    Even tough some of the ingredients we used might sound very fancy, they can all be bought (as we did) from the New Spitalfields market over in Leyton, though you will have to set you alarm nice and early as the market opens at midnight but there's some real bargains and exceptional seasonal produce to be picked up here. You won't need to get up quite so early to pick up any of the matching wines (luckily).

    We hope to inspire you for those fair few days off ahead to try one of these dishes and if you are cooking anything else worth sharing, do tag us in #forestwinesdinners to be in with a chance to be picked as one of our featured cooks and win a bottle of wine at the end of the month.

    read more ...

    Posted by Jana Post