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J’AIME DECEMBER 2021

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Bert’s Fig Leaf<br />

Negroni<br />

Wondering what to serve visitors alongside<br />

a mince pie? Look no further than Bert’s fig<br />

leaf negroni. Infuse your gin now ready for<br />

the holidays.<br />

Take a bottle of gin, put it in a sealable jar<br />

and add some fig leaves. If you can’t find<br />

fig leaves, blackcurrant or bramble leaves<br />

also work well. In two weeks to a month<br />

you’ll have a really nice infused gin.<br />

Combine one part gin with one part sweet<br />

vermouth and one part Campari, stir over<br />

ice and serve with a wedge of orange. Or<br />

combine equal measures into a bottle and<br />

simply pour over ice when your guests<br />

arrive.<br />

BERT SUGGESTS A SEASONAL TWIST ON<br />

THE CLASSIC NEGRONI COCKTAIL BY<br />

INFUSING YOUR GIN WITH FIG LEAVES<br />

When you’re buying wine it pays to visit a smaller,<br />

independent wine shop rather than the supermarket.<br />

When you buy a £5 supermarket wine, it works out<br />

around 30p on average for the grape juice itself. The<br />

vast majority of your pound is going towards taxes,<br />

duties, marketing and the supermarket itself.<br />

“You’re getting ripped off!” Bert warns. “There’s a<br />

lovely wine shop in Eccleshall called Three Pillars.<br />

Go into places like that and chat to knowledgeable<br />

people - there are lots of them out there and that’s<br />

the best way to get the inside information. Ask<br />

them what’s good value for money. They’re doing it<br />

because they love wine, not to become millionaires.”<br />

Your local wine shop will also be able to advise if<br />

you’re choosing wine to gift to a friend or loved one.<br />

One of the best ways to build your own knowledge<br />

is to go to a wine tasting, learn and explore different<br />

styles. There are plenty of independent wine shops<br />

that have popped up during lockdown, including<br />

Bert’s own.<br />

Situated between East Finchley and Highgate in a<br />

classic car showroom, Bottles ‘n’ Jars is a luxury food<br />

and wine store selling a range of wines, craft beers,<br />

tinned goods, breads, oils and more. They deliver<br />

nationwide and offer wines starting from £9 per<br />

bottle.<br />

“We wanted it to be affordable. So you can come in<br />

and get some nice pasta handmade in the UK with<br />

UK grains, a nice sauce and a bottle of wine and<br />

have dinner on the table for £15.”<br />

If you’re lucky enough to receive a carefully chosen<br />

bottle or two for Christmas, proper storage is key to<br />

keeping your wine in fine condition for when you’re<br />

ready to crack it open. Still, cool and dark is the<br />

mantra to remember, says Bert.<br />

“The back of a cupboard is ideal, but the kitchen<br />

is the worst place because the fluctuations in<br />

temperature can ruin wine in a couple of months.<br />

Of course a cellar is ideal. The temperature should<br />

be between 12-16 degrees Celsius. I keep my wine in<br />

a bonded account, where you pay per bottle per year<br />

and they keep it in storage for you. That means it’s<br />

out of sight and I can’t drink it!”<br />

In recent months, Bert has worked with chef Tom<br />

Shepherd on the wine list for his new Lichfield<br />

restaurant, Upstairs, and is hosting what is planned<br />

as a series of seasonal events with The Table Market<br />

at Sandon Hall. So, would he ever open up a Bottles<br />

‘n’ Jars branch in Staffordshire?<br />

“My girlfriend wants to move to Norfolk and she’s<br />

the boss, so I think I’ll have to open one there<br />

instead. But I love Stafforshire still and still follow<br />

Port Vale. I am trying to do more events here<br />

because it has a special place in my heart.”<br />

Which Wine When is available from all<br />

reputable booksellers.<br />

42 www.jaimemagazine.com

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