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Most of us want a decent tipple this Christmas and if you’re anything like the team at Hello Eco Living you want the best ethical, organic or fair trade wines and beers out there.

Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine
Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine

We’ve spent the last couple of months sampling some fantastic drinks that you can enjoy this festive season without questioning your eco credentials. From wine to Port and over to larger we have found a collection of taste sensations  for Christmas 2009. Enjoy…

 

Pomegranate Wine – This year’s “must talk about” wine

Wow, Pomegranate wine – this is really different and such a treat. In fact we think that this would make a really great Christmas pressie and will have you being the centre of attention for bringing the most imaginative drink to the table.

Our Chris gave it his verdict: “On the nose notes of cherry and pomegranate dominate the lively bouquet. A fairly dry wine bursting with complexity and fairly a high alcohol content of 13.8 percent. It could pair well with a rich Italian dish, though we drank it with salmon and cheese and it did not over power. The pomegranate fruit is an unusual flavour for wine but becomes increasingly pleasing and familiar with each sip – we will be certainly drinking more of it in time.”

This corker comes from the Rimon Winery in Galilee and combines the health benefits of pomegranates (lots of antioxidants) with the pleasure of enjoying an unusual wine.

Pomegranate Dry wine RRP £21.99

Terra Prima Reserve Port – Hello Eco Living’s Top Pick!

We’re a bit addicted to this sweet, smooth tasting port and will be well on our way to ordering a batch for our Festive Season.

Terra Prima Reserve is an organically produced Port by Fonseca.  We’re impressed that it’s the only organic Port to be found on UK shelves and is available in a stylish green box (although we didn’t get to experience the box, boo). It’s also vegan and vegetarian friendly.

When we asked Chris to give his verdict he said:

A delight to drink and pick of the review – at £14.99 this port can rival those double it’s price – it’s fairly sweet, but full of mouth watering fruits, also good depth and complexity, a true gem, an ideal match with the christmas pud on the 25th or after dinner cheese and crackers.

Fonseca Port has great eco credentials and has long been recognised as a pioneer of bio-diversity and organic production in its native Portugal.  Winning the BES Biodiversity Prize earlier this year for its viticultural practices is a sign that Fonseca has earned its place amongst the great green pioneers of the world.

Terra Prima Reserve Port £14.49 in Waitrose or Booths

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – A German Gem

In our household we’ve been cracking open red wines for possibly the past 6 months, since our fascination with Bordeaux began. So when a white gets mentioned I jump to attention – I love white wine but it’s often tough to find a good one. This one is definitely up there. It is so moreish. We drank and we simply wanted more.

A bit of background on this particular Riesling – Since 2007, Germany’s organic wine growing area has grown by 60% and now, almost 5% of all German vineyards are organically farmed. However, for them it’s not just about consumer demand, but about quality and respect for the environment. Changing the way they farm to become organic or biodynamic is no small feat – it requires commitment and significant cost but those that make the switch are convinced that by doingso, their wines will better reflect the “terroir” on which they are grown, resulting in a purer, more complex wine with more balance and natural character.

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – £13.50, Jascots Wine Merchants

Freedom Organic Larger – Right here in the UK

We’re not just all about wine and port this festive season; we’ve also catered for the larger drinker. Freedom Brewery has a lovely story as well as being a tasty beer.

Freedom is Britain’s first lager only producing microbrewery is based on a farm next to a deer sanctuary in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire (sounds like a very nice place to work!) It is situated on top of a natural underground lake of Burton brewing water – the world’s finest hard water for brewing. Water is drawn from this sustainable source via a bore hole and used without any treatment for the brewing process. The site has Soil Association accreditation for producing organic lager.

The taste is light with hints of caramel – a very pleasant drink for the boys and girls this December.

The products are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans (seaweed is used in the filtration process as opposed to fish based products). Freedom lagers are left to mature for a minimum of 4 weeks to enhance the flavour.

Freedom Organic Lager £24 – direct from the website for a case of 24 x 330ml bottles

 

The colder months have already begun and by now many of us will be feeling the cold and wanting to throw more coal on the fire and reach for the thermostat in a bid to crank up the gas.  However, there are other ways in which you can keep warm this winter without burning a hole in your pocket, one of these being by eating the right kinds of food.

warm the cockles of your soul
warm the cockles of your soul

During winter the cold weather lowers blood pH therefore making it more acidic, and in order to compensate for this acidic blood pH we need to eat foods that will help to raise, or alkaline, blood pH levels.  By doing this your body’s chemistry will be balanced and as a result you will feel warmer and more comfortable this winter.

Eating foods such as protein and fat can help to raise the blood pH back into the normal range, therefore this winter try eating plenty of meat, fish, eggs, nuts and high fat dairy and you should feel warmer.

Eating foods that contain niacin will also help to warm you up during the cold months.  Niacin, which is a vitamin, also known as vitamin B3, helps to stabilise the nervous system and boost the circulatory system.  It plays a role in expanding the capillaries, thus getting more blood to warm up the hands and the feet.  Foods like milk, eggs and cheese all contain a good quantity of niacin, and other abundant in this B vitamin include animal liver, sesame, and peanuts, as well as all-wheat products.

Other foods to eat to keep you warm during winter include:

Soup: Not only is homemade soup easy to cook, it is cheap and nutritious too, and if you make a big batch, you’ll always have something hot to eat for those times when cooking feels like a chore!  Also, soup makes a great meal for lunch at work.  Pop some in a thermos, heat it up for lunch, and bob’s your uncle.  To get extra protein, try adding beans and meat to any soup.

Meat:  Try eating more meat during winter.  As mentioned earlier, protein raises the blood pH to make us warmer.  Crock-pot meat meals and casseroles are an excellent dinner.  Again, they are inexpensive and easy to make, and usually will feed a whole family.   Eating red meats can also help keep you warm.  These are high in iron, which the body needs to make the thyroid hormone, which stimulates heat production.

Soy:  For those non-meat eaters out there, eating plenty of soy products like tofu. Soybeans, soy nuts and tempeh, will also contribute to keeping you warm this winter.  Try some stir-fry meals with tofu and vegetables, or munch on some soy nuts as a snack.

Spice:  Spicy seasoning keeps cold temperatures away by boosting blood circulation.  So when cooking, try adding some spicy sauce or pepper powder.

Fruit and Vegetables: Fruit and vegetables are a good course of vitamin C, which as we all know, helps keep people healthy.  However during the winter months, fruit and vegetables can also play a role in keeping the winter chills away.  Leeks and carrots are good vegetables to eat, while fruits like peaches, apricots and papaya can keep you warm.  Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are also good to eat because like red meats, these are abundant in iron, which helps to stimulate heat production.

Good Fat:  When cooking, cook your dishes using olive oil or butter as these are healthy fats that will help to balance your blood pH levels and thus warm you up.

Warm drinks:  This winter, try drinking some herbal tea, as whilst keeping you warm, it is a great antioxidant and will help relax you, improve immunity, and flush your system out if you have a cold.  Green tea too is great at fighting infection, and warm unsweetened soy milk is also soothing on a warm day.  Stay away from coffee though because it will only lower your blood pH more.

If you love a good old celebration, then Organic Fortnight is something to stick in your calendar.

Pumpkins at the Bristol Farmers' Market
Pumpkins at the Bristol Farmers’ Market

Taking place from 5th – 20th September the two week campaign will take centre stage to highlight all the great things about organic. Up and down the UK, people in shops, schools, cafes, churches and farms will be hosting events and raising awareness about why organic is the healthy choice, the best for animal welfare and the right thing for the planet.

Sophie Shevlin from the Soil Association says:

“Organic Fortnight is a nationwide campaign highlighting the benefits of organic. This year’s theme focuses on organic values on a budget. Organic is good for us and our planet, is kind to animals and wildlife and allows us make a big difference – simply through the way we shop. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why organic delivers such good value for money.”

So what can you do to get involved with Organic Fortnight? We are all socialising a bit more at home at the moment, so why not host an organic dinner party where you can pass on your knowledge of organic to your friends? If you’re on a budget then you can follow this guide put together by the Soil Association.

There’s also the Organic Food Festival to get involved in…

Held September 12-13 at Bristol’s scenic Harbourside, the Organic Food Festival is organized in association with the Soil Association and with the generous support of Yeo Valley. It is Europe’s largest showcase of the organic community, with hundreds of organic products, cooking demonstrations with Raymond Blanc and other top chefs, childrens taste workshops and a lively Street Food Bazaar and Organic Bar. Find out more in our feature this month.