Life and Style

Night In

Christina Patterson: Let the men eat cake (and have a chat)

One of the exhausting things about being a woman is that there's no brief answer to that social stalwart: "How are you?" In the workplace, maybe. In the street, maybe. Even at a party, maybe, but only if you don't know the person asking you well. But with a friend? With any, in fact, of your 20 close friends? Not a chance. There's no way out. Over a glass or 10 of chardonnay, or a slice or 10 of chocolate cake, you'll have to start from the beginning and work your way grimly through to the end.

Anthony Rose: Chain-store massacre?

One chain’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, and Oddbins is starting to look the real deal

Tom Sutcliffe: A massacre that may or may not be art

A few months ago the Mexican film-maker Guillermo Del Toro, the director of Pan's Labyrinth, gave an interview to Wired magazine in which he predicted that "in the next 10 years there will be an earthshaking Citizen Kane of games".

The Sketch: Words, words, words: tragic Gordon blusters on

I'm not sure Gordon's doing the right thing agreeing to these TV debates. There's too much he can't say. "That's a particular problem for my party," as Cameron put it yesterday. Gordon couldn't say that – the words would come out as: "That isn't a particular problem for my party." If he tried to say, as Cameron said, "I don't have the answer to that", it would emerge as, "the answer to that is, as I have said before, and I was right to say".

Anthony Rose: 'Independent wine merchants offer small volumes of quality wines that big retailers won't touch'

After the recent anti-alcohol rallying cry from the BMA, holding a wine tasting at its HQ could be thought of as akin to infiltrating Troy with a wooden horse. In this case, however, the footsoldiers of wine were there not to bury their enemy but rather to praise the endeavours of winemakers around the world making quality wines from boutique wineries. There's no precise definition as to what constitutes a boutique winery, but Judy Kendrick, who organised the event, explained: "In these days of the 'big brand', talk of minimum prices for alcohol and featureless bottles, it's essential to remember that we're in this business for the love of 'real' wine made by producers ... who are passionate about producing truly outstanding wines in limited quantities."

Bumper crops expected for English vineyards

English grape growers began their annual harvest today as industry experts predicted that home-grown wine production will almost double in the next six years.

Roast chicken with spring onion and horseradish

Ingredients to serve 4

Poll ranks naughty kids by name

Teachers say they can identify which children are likely to be troublemakers by their names.

Chablis: A vine romance

The medieval village is at the heart of a district so full of exquisite food and intriguing history that you could almost ignore all that wine. Almost

Anthony Rose: The French and Americans laugh at the English habit of enjoying our champagnes with a bit of age to them

I recently fossicked out a bottle of the obscure Heidt et Fils Carte Blanche Champagne, lurking in an ill-lit corner of the cellar. Being hopeless at cellar records, I had no recollection of how long it had been there, nor whence it had come. It soon became clear from the shrunken shaft of the cork that it was a fizz probably somewhere between 15 and 20 years old. The golden colour, gentle mousse, but above all the deliciously evolved nutty flavours and an ever so slightly sherryish whiff, confirmed that it was a wine of venerable age. Polished off rapidly with some past-its-sell-by-date, vacuum-sealed Hungarian foie gras I'd managed to prise open after years of resistance, it was a union made all the closer to heaven for its unexpectedness.

Great views, great wines. Is it really the Languedoc?

This area of France is famed for plonk. Yet, its winemakers have raised their game. Forget your preconceptions and take a tour, says Andy Lynes

Album: Bitter: Sweet, Drama, (Qaungo/Cooperative Music)

Too late for the scene and too early for mid-1990s nostalgia, Bitter:Sweet are a jazzy/trip-hop duo whose music is designed to be played in the background of TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy (episode two, season three) or in the foreground of Lipstick Jungle (theme tune, "The Bomb").

Stuffed trout, by Clarissa Dickson Wright

Ingredients to serve 8

Starfishing, By Nicola Monaghan

The breathless pace of this tale of City greed and corruption doesn't allow for many pauses or, alas, much depth. Her brittle protagonist, Francesca Cavanagh, takes a job as a newbie City trader, and Nicola Monaghan whizzes us through her nightly Chardonnay consumption and developing coke habit, and treats her doomed romantic involvement with her married, smooth-talking trader boss similarly speedily.

Anthony Rose: The more adventurous South African producers are trying out new blends of grape varieties

Knowing the South African winemakers Gary and Kathy Jordan, it's a fair bet that when their new London restaurant, High Timber, open its doors close to the Millennium Bridge this month, it will have a good chance of succeeding even in these tough times. The Jordans are the likeable and self-evidently courageous couple behind Jordan Estate in Stellenbosch. Their 2006 Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Merlot, £10, Jeroboams shops, is a succulently juicy Margaux-meets-the-Cape blend of blackcurrant with a capsicum whiff, and the 2004 Jordan Cobblers Hill, £17.95-£19.99, Jeroboams, Ex Cellar, Surrey (01372 275247), Flying Corkscrew (01442 412312), sawinesonline.co.uk, one of the Cape's most stylish and complex bordeaux-style blends.

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Independent Travel
Panama
Languedoc Roussillon
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
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