THE EXCELLENCE of the wine list at the Chewton Glen hotel, near Bournemouth, and the expertise of Gerard Basset, its sommelier, are no secret. In 1992 Mr Basset won three prestigious prizes and last September he was runner-up at the wine waiters' world championship, held in Rio de Janeiro. However, with its latest award, the Trophee Pol Roger, Chewton Glen is confirmed as having the best wine list in Europe.

Every year, L'Association Francaise des Journalistes, Chroniqueurs, Ecrivains de la Vigne, du Vin et des Spiriteux (AFJEV for short) awards the trophy to the establishment offering the best wine list.

In previous years, this great honour has been conferred only on establishments in Paris and the French provinces, but now the Trophee had come to Hampshire. Thirty wine writers flew in from France to have lunch and make incomprehensible speeches. Naturally, they drank quantities of champagne, including magnums of Pol Roger's Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, 1985, although it was not really to their taste. 'Too old,' they chorused, 'too biscuity.'

Not content to rest on his laurels, Mr Basset shocked his fellow Frenchmen by serving a Tasmanian pinot noir, Pipers Brook Vineyard, 1991, with the pigeon de Norfolk roti. Despite an empassioned plea for tolerance from the enlightened sommelier, much Gallic tutting ensued. 'Too young,' they grumbled, 'too oaky.'

NO FRENCH wines, apart from champagne, will be served on St George's Day, next Friday, in Reims, when French culinary chauvinism will be under attack from Chefs Sans Frontieres, a group of half a dozen of the most accomplished chefs from the north of England who are flying in to cook a dinner to demonstrate the excellence of British food. Led by Iain Donald of the SAS (that's the airport catering service sponsoring the event, not the elite fighting force), each member of the team will be responsible for one course.

Paul Heathcote, whose restaurant in Longridge, Lancashire, is among the most successful in the north-west, will start with his patented black pudding, stuffed with sweetbreads and garnished with onion confit. Steven Kitchen, of the excellent Stanneylands restaurant in Wilmslow, Cheshire, will cook the fish: seared Hebridean scallops on a mousse of Finnan haddock and celeriac with a chive butter sauce.

Wales's only Michelin- starred chef, Chris Chown, of Plas Bodegroes, Pwllheli, will prepare his trademark rack of lamb with laverbread and leeks. Paul Reed, of the Arkle restaurant at the Chester Grosvenor hotel, will serve mini bread- and-butter puddings and apple fritters with honey ice-cream.

Nigel Haworth of Northcote Manor, near Blackburn, Lancashire, will provide the canapes - including tiny portions of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, and baby Yorkshire puddings stuffed with beef carpaccio - and his own selection of British farmhouse cheeses. All this washed down with wines from Italy, Spain, California and South Africa.

PETER NOBLE was once Her Majesty's vintner, but for the past five years he and his wife, Penny Landeau, have been dedicated to educating the palates of ordinary people and teaching them about the pleasures of the grape. The couple set out to demystify the process of selecting wine with a series of blind tastings designed to teach the individual characteristics of the 11 classic grape varieties, five red and six white, that make up 80 per cent of the world's wine.

Knowing which grapes one likes best makes it easier to decide what style of wine one prefers, and to make the 'Grape Connection' by decoding the labels of wines that are classified by region rather than grape variety. If that sounds confusing, be reassured that it is not only simple, but also fun. Furthermore, having tested their system on more than 5,000 people who have attended their seminars, the Nobles have incorporated the sum of their wisdom into a book, How To Win The Wine Game (Vermilion, pounds 10.99).

THE competition in which readers were asked to identify the Gastropod's favourite cookery book and stood a chance of winning the nine volumes in the Macmillan Masterchef series provoked an unprecedented response - and every single entrant correctly identified the author, Michel Guerard. Sadly, half of you were tripped up by the reference to Cuisine Minceur, as if the Gastropod would endlessly refer to a book written for those who wish to lose weight.

In fact, the book the Gastropod finds invaluable for its simple descriptions of the principal methods of cookery contained in its first 100 pages is Guerard's Cuisine Gourmande. Among the dozens of readers who got the right answer, the lucky winner is Margaret Williams of London W1.

On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week