The 12 wines of Christmas

Don't leave anything to chance! The key to a successful festive season is military planning, says our wine expert.

Wine: Something for the weekend

Under £6

Wine: Something for the weekend

Weekend Work: Time to plant grape vines

What to do

Taste makers: the chef Maria Elia and writer Samuel Muston sample their dish of lentils and spices

How to think like a chef

Most of us can follow a recipe. But how do professionals know instinctively to put certain ingredients together? Maria Elia takes Samuel Muston on a creative journey

Anthony Rose: 'The New World is focusing on terroir, while the French are putting the grape variety on the label'

It took a while for Arthur van Hoogstraten, who 'won' me at the last Independent charity auction, and I, to sync diaries. After scanning the options, Arthur plumped for the tasting of Clark Foyster (clarkfoysterwines.co.uk) followed by a seminar on terroir with the Plaimont Co-operative. I was delighted because Clark Foyster is a member of the new Dirty Dozen group I recently mentioned and only sells wines that its affable managing director, Lance Foyster MW, believes in. I'm also an admirer of the Plaimont Co-operative for its pioneering stance on Gascon dry whites and its enlightened re-introduction of South-West France's indigenous grape varieties.

'Ripe and ready' fruit? It's a big con

If you ask me I believe that, as a nation, we need to sit down and decide what we think about "ripe and ready" fruit as sold by the supermarkets at a premium. You may consider this a trivial matter. You may say there are more important things happening in the world. You may even add: "I'm a busy person and do not have time for this. I'm going to turn to the stock market reports and then shout: 'SELL COPPER!' at somebody". Which is fair enough, but if I had to reply I would reply with this: "Do you really want to be the sort of person who sells copper while all manner of soft fruits are running circles round you, and having the last laugh? Do you?"

Anthony Rose: 'Vin de France is a new affordable category that makes it easier for French wine to compete with the New World'

In the dead of a German winter, three English wine writers sat round a table in an Italian restaurant discussing French wine. The start of a joke? Actually it was the end of one, the punchline being the French authorities' refusal to allow its more humble wines to use the name of their grape variety. A new French wine category, Vin de France, was born last year and we were being asked to road-test it with a group of German colleagues in order to make a selection for June's Vinexpo, the giant wine fair in Bordeaux.

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