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Bert’s Fig Leaf


Wondering what to serve visitors alongside

a mince pie? Look no further than Bert’s fig

leaf negroni. Infuse your gin now ready for

the holidays.

Take a bottle of gin, put it in a sealable jar

and add some fig leaves. If you can’t find

fig leaves, blackcurrant or bramble leaves

also work well. In two weeks to a month

you’ll have a really nice infused gin.

Combine one part gin with one part sweet

vermouth and one part Campari, stir over

ice and serve with a wedge of orange. Or

combine equal measures into a bottle and

simply pour over ice when your guests





When you’re buying wine it pays to visit a smaller,

independent wine shop rather than the supermarket.

When you buy a £5 supermarket wine, it works out

around 30p on average for the grape juice itself. The

vast majority of your pound is going towards taxes,

duties, marketing and the supermarket itself.

“You’re getting ripped off!” Bert warns. “There’s a

lovely wine shop in Eccleshall called Three Pillars.

Go into places like that and chat to knowledgeable

people - there are lots of them out there and that’s

the best way to get the inside information. Ask

them what’s good value for money. They’re doing it

because they love wine, not to become millionaires.”

Your local wine shop will also be able to advise if

you’re choosing wine to gift to a friend or loved one.

One of the best ways to build your own knowledge

is to go to a wine tasting, learn and explore different

styles. There are plenty of independent wine shops

that have popped up during lockdown, including

Bert’s own.

Situated between East Finchley and Highgate in a

classic car showroom, Bottles ‘n’ Jars is a luxury food

and wine store selling a range of wines, craft beers,

tinned goods, breads, oils and more. They deliver

nationwide and offer wines starting from £9 per


“We wanted it to be affordable. So you can come in

and get some nice pasta handmade in the UK with

UK grains, a nice sauce and a bottle of wine and

have dinner on the table for £15.”

If you’re lucky enough to receive a carefully chosen

bottle or two for Christmas, proper storage is key to

keeping your wine in fine condition for when you’re

ready to crack it open. Still, cool and dark is the

mantra to remember, says Bert.

“The back of a cupboard is ideal, but the kitchen

is the worst place because the fluctuations in

temperature can ruin wine in a couple of months.

Of course a cellar is ideal. The temperature should

be between 12-16 degrees Celsius. I keep my wine in

a bonded account, where you pay per bottle per year

and they keep it in storage for you. That means it’s

out of sight and I can’t drink it!”

In recent months, Bert has worked with chef Tom

Shepherd on the wine list for his new Lichfield

restaurant, Upstairs, and is hosting what is planned

as a series of seasonal events with The Table Market

at Sandon Hall. So, would he ever open up a Bottles

‘n’ Jars branch in Staffordshire?

“My girlfriend wants to move to Norfolk and she’s

the boss, so I think I’ll have to open one there

instead. But I love Stafforshire still and still follow

Port Vale. I am trying to do more events here

because it has a special place in my heart.”

Which Wine When is available from all

reputable booksellers.

42 www.jaimemagazine.com

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