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Quite often when we eat out the waiter hands the wine list to Mr MK (Muddy Kent) and he’s also the one who ends up doing the tasting. In fairness sometimes this is simply because I am otherwise occupied extracting the Mini Muddies from under the neighbouring table. But it is also the case that men have traditionally made the decisions about what we should be drinking. I must confess, I’d like to know a bit more than I do.

Fortunately, that’s changing. The first female-only wine list has been launched in a London restaurant and there’s a growing number of increasingly important roles women are playing in the wine world at every level, from winemaker to estate owner. I myself have some female friends who are very good with their wine – both drinking it and talking about it.

But a binder-size wine list can be overwhelming for anyone and walking into a wall-to-wall wine merchants can be just as intimidating. Luckily I’ve recently discovered The Vinorium – the fine wine pop up at Hartley Coffee House & Farm Shop, Cranbrook where the approachable team are great at guiding you round the best of their stock. This year I’ve decided I’m going to buck the trend and sort the Valentine’s fizz myself, (well actually the norm is that I forget to buy anything at all – so this really is unprecedented).

And just in case you are like me – full of the best intentions but not the best informed – I’ve asked Vinorium to put together their top 3 sparkling wines, all with a different price point, and an explanation. In. Two. Sentences. Max!



1. Krug Grande Cuvee NV, £120

A glass of Krug simply stops you in your tracks. There is plenty here to satisfy both the intellectual and purely hedonistic senses as layers of fruit build effortlessly to the seamless, glorious finish.

2. Billecart Salmon Brut Rose NV, £50.65

One of the world’s most coveted Rosé Champagnes. A seductive array of summer fruits, mineral notes which adds complexity and leads to Billecart’s telltale sensual finish.

3. Pierre Mignon Grande Premier Cru NV, £24.00

Our Premier Cru house Champagne has repeatedly baffled connoisseurs during blind tastings and left many famous brands trailing behind. Creamy-textured and still elegant in spite of the amazing price tag.

Hope you found that useful – I’m off right now – might just see you in there. Bottoms up, mes braves!

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent