A good book, a log fire, jazz and mulled wine

Winter has arrived. After a mild autumn, some of us will be scrambling to cope with the cold. We all have different ways of doing this.

I like the good book, log fire, quiet jazz and mulled wine approach. The good book and jazz are easy, but it’s a pity I don’t have a log fire: the heat pump doesn’t provide quite the same ambience.

The mulled wine will be made from a recipe in a book I discovered recently: Hot Toddies: mulled wine, buttered rum, spiced cider and other soul-warming drinks. Mmmmmm!

One of my friends has just bought 15 pumpkins to store in her garage to help her with her winter survival necessity: pumpkin soup. Looking for soup ideas? Think library.

Another friend has just whisked out her knitting needles to knit a stripe hoodie for … wait for it … her dog! If you are more worried about your dog’s wellbeing than yours, try Knits for dogs and cats.

Then there’s the friend whom I really can’t identify with, who is getting excited about his way of keeping his body warm: running in the SBS Marathon on 6 June.

What’s your winter-warming plan?

Lionel Shriver on book clubs

Book groups are a social phenomenon. In this excerpt from Roberta Smith’s interview with Lionel Shriver, you can hear Shriver’s thoughts on book clubs and how they bridge the gap between the solitude of reading and ordinary socialising.

What do you think – would you ever join a book group? Could there be a bloke’s book group?  Discuss!

Bottle Shocked

red wine glass and bottleThanks to a bit of serendipity (aka Mo-mo) I scored free tickets to the movie Bottle Shock. It purports to be about the events around the 1976 Judgement of Paris. I always thought this was a painting?

Anyway some Napa Valley wines outscored top French wines in a blind tasting by top French wine experts and made the world aware of the potential of New World wines.  These days I think of the potential specials at my local supermarket – but where Napa Valley led, so Kiwi winemakers followed and these days the cheeky beggars are even challenging on the red wine front, at least in the taste buds and wallets of a lot of British wine drinkers.

The film was a bit cliched at times – did they all run around in Deux Chevaux and Citroens in 1976? Or were they the only French cars Americans would be likely to recognise? But it did provide light hearted entertainment and a good story. It whetted my interest in Californian wines, although another movie of a couple of years ago, Sideways, gives an idea of how over-hyped it can be now. We have DVD copies of Sideways in our libraries.

The “effete Pom” character, Stephen Spurrier, is still around on the wine scene – as a consultant editor for Decanter magazine. If you want to explore the wide world of wine there are some great specialist magazines in our libraries – Decanter, Winestate, WineNZ plus the wine sections of magazines like Cuisine, Dine, Australian Gourmet Traveller.