Anthony Rose: 'There is nothing like a Bonfire Night sparkler to get you in the mood for, er, a sparkler'


Bonfire Night might make members of the House fidget in their seats, but the idea of blowing up Parliament brings a little anarchic glee into our lives. There's nothing like a sparkler to get you in the mood for, er, sparklers, and if you don't want to push the boat out too far for Guy Fawkes, Marks & Spencer's Sparkling Burgundy NV, £11.99, will give you a biscuity, weighty fizz at an affordable price. Add a dash of Sainsbury's quintessence of cassis-like Taste the Difference Blackcurrant Liqueur, £8.99, 20cl, either to that or your favourite cheap cava, and there you have your very own grown-up Kir Royale.

For explosive luxury at a less than incendiary price, one of the top-value supermarket champagnes on the market is Asda's gold-medal winning 2002 Extra Special Vintage Champagne, £20.17, a nine-year-old blend with a briochey, toasty mousse of bubbles and a silky creaminess. If, before lighting the fire under the Guy, you like the idea of playing the patriotic card, you might give Sainsbury's 2007 Taste the Difference English Sparkling Brut, £19.99, a whirl for its vinosity and tangy Anglo-Saxon freshness. Or if you haven't already discovered this guy, the 2009 Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury from Sussex, £21.99, Waitrose, is a proudly stylish English blend with a rich, champagne-like mousse of bubbles and a lick of acidity.

Bonfire Night food (see Mark Hix's recipes on page 50) requires reds with autumnal warmth and spice, such as the dark-fruited, spice-scented southern French 2009 Domaine des Crès Ricards 'Alexaume' from Mont Baudile, £9.99, buy 2 = £7.99, Majestic. A notch up in power, Sainsbury's 2008 Taste the Difference Priorat, £9.99, delivers strawberry-jam fruit and grippy tannins all balanced by high-altitude, cool-climate crispness. If a red ever summed up autumn bonfires, the 2001 Rioja Reserva Especial 2001, Viña Ardanza, La Rioja Alta, £22, buy 2 = £17, Majestic, is it – a traditional rioja whose succulent, strawberryish fruit plays second-fiddle to the complex, smoky characters of maturity. Ratcheting the heat-factor up a notch, the 2008 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition, Domaine Giraud, £26.75, Lea & Sandeman (020-7244 0522), brings young Rhône's typically muscle-bound spicy, juicy plum and raspberry fruit and peppery opulence.

Coming in from the cold, an electric blanket of sherry or port is what you need. Gonzalez Byass' Apostoles 30-Year-Old Palo Cortado, around £15.99, half-bottle, Waitrose, Berry Bros & Rudd (0800 280 2440), is just such a fortified – and fortifying – aged sherry, smoky caramel and coffee blending with a mild sweetness of dried apricot fruit and a nutty aftertaste. Also rich and warming yet elegantly dry, Sainsbury's bronze-hued Taste the Difference 12-Year-Old Oloroso, £7.99, in half-litre, displays toffeeish dried fruits and grilled nut and caramel complexity. As for port, there's warmth, sweetness and spice in abundance in Marks & Spencer's 2005 Late Bottled Vintage Port, £9.99, down from £12.99, a youthful port with a spicy aromatic quality, juicy dark-berry-fruit richness and concentrated treacle-toffee flavours.

Tawny devotees will warm to Ramos Pinto's fabulous 10-Year-Old Tawny Quinta de Ervamoira, £18.50, half-litre, Fortnums,, £32.95, bottle, Roberson (020-7371 2121), a complex port rich in liquid walnuts with an intensely nutty aftertaste. Light the blue touch paper...

The Wine Gang Christmas Fair 2011 ticket giveaway

The Wine Gang is five of the UK’s most respected wine critics: Anthony Rose of The Independent, Joanna Simon of House & Garden, Tom Cannavan of, David Williams of The Observer and Jane Parkinson of

For the third year running, they have put together an incredible all-day festival of wine in Edinburgh where you can taste from 300 wines priced £6 to £80, take part in a fun and a free wine walk conducted by the Gang, and meet and learn from our tutored masterclasses on Chablis, Chile, Portugal and Argentina.

This is Britain’s brightest, best and most relaxed wine event and is a fabulous chance to plan your wine drinking for Christmas and beyond. Many of the exhibitors at the fair will be offering exclusive discounts on the day, too.

We have three pairs of tickets to the event, including a masterclass of your choice (subject to availability) to give away (each of the three prize packages is worth £70). Please write to

The Wine Gang Christmas Fair 2011, The Merchants Hall, Edinburgh; Sat 12 Nov; £20, early bird £15, optional tickets for each masterclass £15;; 0844 481 8898.

The closing date for this offer is midnight, Friday November 4th 2011.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower