WARE WINE & BEER CIRCLE
MEETINGS IN 2014
2014
December: Christmas meal at the Salisbury Hotel, Hertford
18 members attended the Christmas meal this year at the Salisbury Hotel in Hertford.
There was a good selection on the menu and members were able to have either 2 or 3 courses. The food and service were good.


December: Ware Christmas Festival
Another extremely successful year selling our mulled wine to the cold and thirsty public of Ware at the Christmas Festival in Tudor Square. The weather was cold and it remained dry. The annual event was again very popular. We made up 18 gallons of red wine, supplemented by orange juice, water and sugar, and heated it in a Burco boiler. We had preheated some of the wine and blended in the orange juice and sugar, so we were able to serve the thirsty public without keeping people waiting. We were very busy all evening and sold out soon after 8.15pm, leaving some people disappointed. We sent a donation to the Herts Air Ambulance. Click here to read their thank you letter.
Thanks to everyone who helped on the evening, particularly Colin who looks after most of the infrastructure of our stall and controls the temperature of the wine. And to Peter R and Kevin who made most of the wine.

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November: Eastern European food and wine, and beer
18 members enjoyed a very lively evening presented by Peter and Elaine. There were 3 beers and 5 wines and an assortment of food from Eastern Europe. For the food, we had Russian Black Bread (made by Chris), bruscetta biscuits, rye bread, herb biscuits, 'sterilized' pate, vegetable pate, pork sausage, 'Grandads sausage' and a selection of Polish cheese. These were followed by three desserts of an apple cake (made by Margaret), a lemon cake and a date and chocolate chip cake (both made by Mary), finished off with marzipan chocolate sweets.
The beer and wine were as follows:
Baltika Premium Lager 5.5% Russia Tesco 1.99
Budweiser Budvar Original 5% Czech Rpublic Tesco 1.99
Budweiser Dark Lager 4.7% Czech Republic Tesco 1.99
Lakeview Vineyards Gruner Veltliner 12% Hungary Tesco 7.49
Sauvignon Blanc / Furmint 12.5% Slovenia Tesco 7.99
Furmint   Hungary Village Wines, Ware 12.95
Discovery Series Merlot 12.5% Bulgaria Tesco 6.99
Murfatlar Zestrea Feteasca Neagra 12% Rumania A shop in Southgate 6.50

Kevin concluded the evening by giving out the recipes for next year's annual show and September competition. He also had bought some fruit syrups for a recipe for the March competition, which members can add to a basic wine recipe. It will be interesting to see what the differentv wines will be like at the March evening.

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October: V is for Vermentino, Viognier, and Viura presented by Nigel Gibbes
A depleted membership due to holidays and illness saw only 12 members and 2 guests enjoy a tasting of wines made from the grapes Vermentino, Viognier and Viura and presented by Nigel Gibbes from Wineservice. Nigel was very knowledgeable about the wines, which were all very nice. He had brought some bottles along for sale if members were interested, and the majority of them were sold at the end of the evening. The wines were as follows:
Pleno Blanco 12% 2013 Navarra, Spain Viura 80%, Chardonnay 20%
Marques de Caceres Blanco 12% 2013 Rioja, Spain Viura 100%
Costamolino Vermentino 13.5% 2013 Sardinia, Italy Vermentino 95%, 5% varieties native to Sardinia
Carianne Blanc Cotes du Rhone Villages Domaine de la Presidente 14% 2011 Southern Rhone, France Viognier 70%, Grenache Blanc 30%
Wide River Viognier 12.5% 2014 Robertson, South Africa Viognier 100%
Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer 13.5% 2012 Cape South Coast, South Africa Reisling 49%, Viognier 27%, Sauvignon Blanc 14%, Chardonnay 8%, Chenin Blanc 2%

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September: Blind wine tasting by Peter R
15 members and 1 guests were present at the September meeting. The original speaker was unable to come for family reasons, and we were unable to find a replacement speaker as short notice. So the chairman and treasurer made a quick visit to a local supermarket to purchase some wines, which were on offer, and there was a 25% discount on 6 bottles as well. The prices given are before discount. Much discussion about the wines, and various other subjects, enlivened the evening.
The wines were as follows:
Alexis Lichine, Bordeaux 12.5% 2012 Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc 5.99
Beringer, California 12% 2012 Pinot Grigio 6.75
Villa Maria, New Zealand 13% 2013 Chardonnay 7.49
Nederburg 56 hundred, South Africa 13.5% 2013 Pinot Noir 4.99
Dino IGT, Puglia, Italy 12.5% 2011 Primitivo 5.99
Tesco Finest Pays D'Oc, France 13% 2013 Malbec 5.99


There also a competition during the evening of Fruit Juice wine - 1st Peter R, 2nd Robert, 3rd Kevin 4th Colin - and red fruit dry - 1st Peter R, 2nd Kevin, 3rd Elaine, 4th Robert.

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August: Annual BBQ
16 members, 2 ex-members and 1 guest, attended the annual club BBQ, which was hosted this year by Margaret and Peter B.  The weather stayed dry and was a mixture of sunshine and cloud. So we were able to sit outside for the afternoon, with a few members retiring inside for coffee.
Colin did his usual grand job of bbq-ing the chicken and sausages, and we had spare ribs again as well. Various salads (including home-grown beetroot from Peter R's allotment) and desserts were prepared by the members.
Thanks to Margaret and Peter B for hosting the event, and to everyone for preparing the food. Also thanks to Chris and Carol  for taking some of the photos.

Photo Gallery

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August: Annual Computerised Wine Drive, run by Elaine and Peter R
15 members and 1 guest entered 9 bottles in the Annual wine drive.
The members, split into teams of 2 people, judge one another's wines in a series of comparative tastings, the idea being that each wine is tasted at least once against every other wine, and each team gets to have a chat with every other team. The results are then entered into the computer and a league table develops with the results. This year's commercial wine was a German Liebfraumilch at 9% alcohol from Lidl, costing 3.59 for a 75cl bottle.
The results were as follows: 1st Commercial; 2nd Robert; 3rd Kevin; 4th John; 5th Peter B; 6th Elaine; 7th Chris; joint 8th David and Peter R.
Only 6 of the pairs scored 3-0, suggesting that the wines were extremely similar in quality. Well done to everyone.
The trophies and certificates from the recent Annual Show were presented by the club president - Wendy.
Kevin reminded members of the September competition, which is a fruit juice wine to own recipe, and a red fruit dry wine.

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July: 34th Annual Show
The club held its 34th Annual Show at the Ware Art's Centre in Ware. 18 competitors, including 5 from the Luton Guild, entered 93 bottles in 8 wine classes and 50 bottles in 4 beer classes - which have been expanded to include more styles of beer - this year. The food classes were well supported with 10 entries. The bottles entered in the show prior to the day arrived extremely promptly, as did the 3 judges. Peter R and Elaine had to judge as well because there were a lot of entries. An early start was made on the judging. Judges and stewards partook of a salad lunch after judging.
Thanks to the judges and the stewards. Well done to all the winners.

12 members got together in the evening at the Art's Centre to eat the food and sample the winning wines.
Click here for results and trophy winners.

Photo Gallery

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July: A talk by Guy Horlock about Maltings
18 members and 1 guest attended the July meeting. We had to hastily re-arrange the speaker, as the original speaker let us down. Guy Horlock spoke about the maltings company - French & Jupps - that he worked for for many years (for some of the time as chairman) and also about malts and maltings in general. He gave us a brief history about the maltings in Ware, which played a big part in Ware's industrial history; many of the maltings buildings can still be seen, now converted into flats.
Peter R brought along some beers from local breweries (bought from The Beer Shop in St Albans), concentrating on dark beers as Ware was primarily concerned with the production of brown malt.

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June: Annual Walk - Old Welwyn Tour
Ten members made their way over to Old Welwyn for the Annual Walk around the town guided by Tony Rook, the local historian. Unfortunately, despite the lovely weather of the previous few days, the heavens opened with a vengeance. Tony had no alternative but to postpone the walk. The members adjourned to a local hostelry - The White Horse - for a pint and a chat before making our way home. Three other members joined us just as most of us were leaving!

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June: Wales & West 50th Annual Festival
Four members attended the annual Wales & West show, this year held in a hotel in Torquay. Elaine, Peter, and Kevin judged, with Elaine judging a food class as well, and Chris stewarded. They all entered, as did Robert. Chris got a 1st place, 2 3rd places, 2 4th places and a 5th place. Elaine got 3 5th places. Kevin got a 1st place, 1 4th place and 2 6th places. Peter got 3 2nd places, a 3rd place and a 5th place. Robert got a 2nd place. The club was 5th overall of the non-affiliated clubs. A successful and enjoyable weekend.

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May: Quiz Nite with Dave and Sue
17 members and 1 guest took part in the annual quiz nite with Dave as the quiz master. The quiz this year was was questions taken from a book of pub quiz questions. The winning team was Helen, Tina and MC. The scores were quite close this year, and a couple of teams scored full marks on a couple of rounds.
Well done to the winning team and thanks to Dave and Sue for organising the quiz.
Elaine announced the results for the Founder's Trophy, as follows - 12th Alan 1pt; 11th Don 2 pts; joint 8th with 3 pts Robert, Eddie and Graham S; 7th John 5 pts; 6th Peter B 7 pts; joint 4th Colin and Chris with 11 pts; 3rd Peter R 20 pts; 2nd Elaine 22 pts; 1st Kevin 25 points. The Robinson domination of the trophy has been broken at last! Well done to Kevin for achieving this.
Kevin reminded members about the Annual show in July, and gave out the recipe for the September competition.

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May: Beds & Herts Federation Show 2012
Peter, Elaine, Chris, Robert and Kevin entered the show this year; Peter and Kevin judged, and Chris and Robert were stewards. Elaine got four 1st places and 12 other places; Peter got two 1st places and 18 other places; Kevin got two 1st places and 12 other places; Robert got three 1st places and 2 other places; Chris got one 1st place and 3 other places. Elaine was lady with most points in the wine classes and was also the overall winner of the trophy for highest points in the wine classes, with Peter second and Kevin 5th. The circle won the 3 bottles of wine for dinner class, and was the guild with most points with 334 points. This is the first time that the circle has done this.
Full report and results on the NAWB web site.

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April: AGM followed by first round of Countries Wine Challenge
20 members (4 apologies for absence) attended the AGM. The club is a healthy financial position, with an overall deficit of only 10, despite the main income for the club coming from the Dickens event; there could be financial problems if this event was not successful. The club has again enjoyed a variety of meetings, including a talk about Hertford Air Ambulance, and a walk around Broxbourne Wood; a talk and tasting by Ritchie of Village Wines in Ware, a talk on the Great Bed of Ware, and a sweet wine evening accompanied by desserts, as well as our regular evenings. The current committee members were re-elected, and joined by a new member - Chris.
The winner of the Founder's Trophy could not be announced as Kevin forgot to bring the results with him.

As the supermarket challenge has finished, the club has embarked on a new challenge - comparing wines from different countries. The countries for this year are France vs USA.
The members had to decide which was the better wine. The wines - all purchased from Tesco - were as follows:
Classic Chardonnay France 12.5% 4.99 Gallo Chardonnay USA 2012 12.5% 7.19
Ros d'Anjou France, 2012 11% 5.99 Blossom Hill White Zinfandel California USA 9.5% 5.00
Labrune et Fils Pinot noir France 5.99 Gallo Pinot noir California USA 2012 13% 7.19

Kevin added up the scores and France won by 34 to 17. Thanks to Kevin for getting the wines.
The members were reminded about the Annual  Show, which is in July. Kevin gave everyone an entry form - so there is no excuse for not entering! There is a special recipe class included. Click here for the recipe. Entry forms can also be found via the Annual show page. Members were also reminded about the Beds & Herts show on May 10th.

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March: National Show at Royal Court Hotel, Coventry
Peter and Elaine R, Kevin, Robert and Susan, and Chris and Carol went to the 56th National show at Coventry. See the NAWB website for the full results and photos.
They entered a large number of bottles between them. The circle also entered the circle classes for 3 bottles of wine for dinner and the 3 bottle beer class; to their great surprise they won the 3-bottle wine class this year. They gained 66 places between them, including 10 1st places. No major trophies this year; Peter was 4th overall for NAWB Master, with Kevin 8th; Elaine was runner-up to the Lady winemaker. The club came 3rd overall in circle ranks - beaten by 2 points by Luton! Kevin took most of Peter and Elaine's trophies home. Chris and Robert both stewarded for the first time at the National.

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March: Kit Tasting of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon by Kevin
17 members and 1 guest were present.
Last November Kevin distributed 2 x 5 gallon kits amongst 10 members to make up; each member was given a different yeast to use. All 10 members brought along a bottle of the wine that they had made for the members to taste. Amazingly they were all very different. So, presumably this was either due to the different yeasts used, or the methods of the participating members differ. It was noted that yeasts supplied with kits tend to include nutrient, whereas a single packet of yeast does not. Some members realised this and added nutrient, others did not. Maybe this accounted for the differences.
Kevin also told us briefly the history  of the two grapes.
An interesting exercise; if it was repeated in the future, perhaps a more expensive kit would be better.
The results were as follows: Chardonnay - 5th Alan, 4th Chris, 3rd John, 2nd Elaine, 1st Kevin; Cabernet Sauvignon - 5th Peter B, 4th Robert, equal 2nd Eddie and Graham S, 1st Peter R.
Thanks to Kevin for organising the evening.

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February: Putting the Great Bed of Ware to bed by Ken Weekes
21 members and 2 guests (the highest attendance for a long time!) listened to an extremely interesting and informative talk by Ken Weekes.
Ken told us about the saga of getting the bed displayed in the Ware Museum in 2012 - the Jubilee Year.
In 1998 David Perman had investigated the possibility of getting a copy of the bed made for the museum, although this was not ultimately a viable option. Ken started to look at where the bed could be displayed - Blue Coat Yard, Ware Arts Centre, The Priory and Fletchers Lea - but none were suitable. Ken was drawing up plans for an extension to the Ware Museum, and it transpired that the bed would fit in the museum. The height of the room where the bed was displayed later turned to be fortunate; in 1824, when the bed was moved to the Saracens Head in Ware, the room it was being moved to was not high enough! So, 7" was sawn off the height of the bed and this later meant that it would fit into the Ware Museum!
Ken contacted the Victoria and Albert Museum asking if the bed could be loaned to Ware Museum for a year. First they said yes, then said no - the bed was too fragile (it is made of solid oak), and it was the most visited object in the V&A, etc. Eventually Mark Prisk - local MP - wrote to the Secretary of State for approval, and permission was given. The Heritage Lottery Fund was contacted for a grant to assist with the cost, and Ware Town Council donated 10,000.
The V&A were concerned as to how the bed would be moved into the museum, pointing out the the doors were too small. Ken had thought of this when designing the extension, and had incorporated a removable roof in his plans! So the bed was lowered in through the roof.
The bed was in the museum for a year during 2012 and early 2013. Approximately 33000 visitors came to see it, benefiting the museum and local businesses in the town. It was featured on local TV and radio.
Ken answered various questions at the end of his talk, including telling us the weight of the bed - 1 tonne - and value - 1,000,000!
There were a few samples of mead passed round at the end of the evening.
Thanks to Ken Weekes for a very interesting talk.

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January: A Brief History of Winemaking by Peter R
Another cold January evening did not deter 18 members from attending the club meeting. Peter R gave an amusing and informative talk on the history of winemaking; a brief one anyway! Peter had done a lot of research and showed the members various slides about early winemaking, interspersed with snippets of interesting facts and humorous quotations. He told us that winemaking possibly started in Mesopotamia around 6000BC; it was probably very rough, but better than the available drinking water. Winemaking spread throughout the Mediterranean countries; there is ample evidence of bars in the ruins of Pompeii!
As time progressed, winemaking and consumption increased, with the Christian monasteries in Europe playing a large part in keeping the wine industry alive. However, the dissolution of the monasteries in 1530 led to the decline of winemaking in the UK.
In the 17th century wine faced a lot of competition with sources of luxury, such as tea, hot chocolate, beer and ale, and tobacco. The creation of Champagne was another source of competition. Glass and corks became more widely available and improved the quality of wine by better storage.
During the 19th century the British Empire continued to grow and the Cape of South Africa became an important supply of wine. A lot of Europeans emigrated to America and took vines and their knowledge of winemaking with them. California eventually became the main wine growing area of the country. Hard times came in 1850 with the oidium crisis - wines had no staying power and were often sour and bitter. This was followed by Phylloxera, a tiny aphid which sucked liquid out of the vines, causing severe problems in Europe. The European vines were grafted with American rootstock and winemaking continued.
From 1900 to 1950, there other problems - too much wine, wars, depression and prohibition. People in America started to make their own wine and tastes changed.
Home winemaking has been around for several centuries. Elderberries and other fruits were made into wine by London's nobility, with mead being very popular. Housewives also made wine, and beer, although not very scientifically. Sugar rationing during World War II virtually finished home winemaking.
From the 1950s, people started to have more leisure time and home winemaking became popular. Early books contained recipes which required 4-5lb of sugar, all added at the beginning of the process. Baker's yeast could not cope!
As interest increased, like-minded people got together and started to form wine circles. The first circle was formed at Andover on March 1954, which Cheltenham in October 1954. Locally, Welwyn Garden City Guild was formed in April 1955, with Hertford and Tewin soon after.
In 1958 the National Honey Show included a talk on home made wine and mead and there was interest declared in wine competitions. However, the following year the Amateur Winemakers Society had to cancel the first National convention when only 2 booking forms were received!
The first National Congress took place in April 1959 at Andover with 170 attendees. Bournemouth Winemakers announced in December 1959 that it would host the second congress, which over 300 winemakers attended and entered over 600 bottles in 20 classes. Generally people were still against a national organisation but a committee was formed to run a National conference and show with existing circles being asked to contribute financially at 1/- per head. At the third National Conference in 1961 circles were each asked to nominate a judge to assess the 710 bottles entered. Each club had its own scoring system at this stage.
In 1962 Andy Andrews estimated that 50% of the wines entered were sub-standard and concluded that a standard set of rules for procedure and judging must be prepared. The National committee agreed that judges must be trained to invoke a standard judging practice and take an exam. The Amateur Winemakers National Guild of Judges was therefore formed in November 1963. A judges' handbook was written to define standards for judging wine, followed later by beer standards in 1967. In October 1978 the name was changed to the National Guild of Wine and Beer Judges.
Peter also brought along some winning wines for the members to taste.

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Last updated: 20/07/16
Copyright: 2001 WWBC