This column was first published in Living magazine in The Herald on Sunday, Auckland, New Zealand, 19 July 2015.

Fiery Thai ginger ale

The makers of East Imperial Superior Beverages have released a colourless but fiery new mixer called Thai Dry Ginger Ale, which adds complexity to winter cocktails; add ice and several slices of fresh lemon and orange to a generous dash of Sipsmith Summer Cup; a gin based aromatic liqueur with 32% ABV; the new answer to that old beauty called Pimm’s.

Spanish grape in NZ

Its big, it’s smooth, it’s 14.5% alcohol, so it’s not for the faint hearted; meet the first Church Road Tempranillo 2013. It was released this year by winemaker Chris Scott, who has a reputation for red wine experiments; he also makes an outstanding marzemino (pronounced just as it looks; an Italian red grape now growing in Hawke’s Bay).
The new 2013 Church Road Tempranillo is $26.59.
#churchroadwinery @ChrisScottCRW  

Reach for the stars

What: Champagne Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2007

Grapes? It’s all about chardonnay; 50% of the blend and the defining crisp citrusy flavour here; the balance is pinot noir (45%) with a dash of the black champagne grape, pinot meunier.

How much: $350. Ouch.

Why: Because this year the makers of Champagne Perrier Jouet sponsored the new Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Private Dining Room at Clooney restaurant in Auckland. And this tastes divine; super fresh with super persistent bubbles and superb flavours.

Where from: Specialist wine stores.