News & views | Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

News & views

Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

This weekend I’ve been away at Mawgan Porth in north Cornwall attending a champagne dinner (yes, tough) and chilling out by a beautiful beach. Actually the best thing has been just having 24 hours to draw breath in the hectic run-up to Christmas. And three things have particularly struck me:

Going away 2 weeks before Christmas is A Good Thing

One tends to think - at least I do - that after Christmas is the time to take a break but by the time you get through the two weeks forced inactivity of Christmas and the New Year (from a work rather than a domestic point of view, naturally) you feel that you need to get back into the swing of things.

Before Christmas is ideal. You can recharge your batteries for the Christmas onslaught. And even better, if you go far enough away from a shopping centre, you can pretend for 48 hours it’s not Christmas at all.

Champagne dinners don’t have to be posh

The ones I’ve been to have tended to be black tie affairs with fussy food but last night’s (hosted by Champagne Tarlant at The Scarlet Hotel) was as casual as champagne dinners get.

The main course - eminently sensible for a restaurant on the coast - was fish and chips which is great with champagne. The starter was a robust cep and potato soup which was excellent with Tarlant's top-of-the-range Cuvée Louis. Kicking off with your best champagne? Hardly ever done but why not? That’s when palates are sharpest.

Melanie Tarlant who was presenting the wines didn’t go into a lot of geeky stuff about dosage and blends but talked about herself and her family and what it’s like being a woman in the largely male-dominated world of Champagne.

Everyone was sat, family style, round one large table. My neighbour was a thoroughly down-to-earth builder from Birmingham who was there with his daughters, one of whom runs a website called Pretty Pink Princess which sells ‘scrunch bum’ bikinis (no, I had no idea what they were either). It was an entertaining evening.

Most people don't care whether wine is natural or not

Champagne Tarlant produces natural champagnes but Melanie didn’t make a big deal about it. Everyone just thought they were delicious. 24 of the wines on the Scarlet’s winelist are organic, biodynamic or natural. Same thing - no big deal.

The Scarlet apparently picks natural wines because they fit in with the eco-friendly image of the hotel and with their emphasis on sourcing local and artisanal ingredients. Their customers, who don’t have any particular axe to grind, enjoy them.

Why then the big fuss about natural wines being ‘undrinkable’? I simply don’t get it.

* I attended the dinner and stayed at The Scarlet as a guest of the hotel (but paid for my own foot massage .... )


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