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  • Winchester Eats

Wine Utopia Wine Club - Les Volets Chardonnay paired with a King Prawn and Butternut squash Risotto

I haven't written here for so long... What better time to start writing about all things Winchester food and drink again now that things are opening up, and we begin to start welcoming friends and family back to our gardens for now and hopefully in to our homes soon enough....

For us, time together with friends and family typically involves good food, and plenty of wine, so when I was delighted to be invited to review Wine Utopia's Wine Club in order to gain some new favourites to share. Having said that, this particular case of wine won't be decimated by social occasions as it has "DO NOT DRINK" scrawled across the top of the box in black marker pen... The plan is to review a bottle of the case per week and feature a recipe to pair with it.

Wine Utopia has a couple of options when it comes to its Wine Club Membership - The Winchester, and The Stockbridge (which we are reviewing) - The Stockbridge is described as the best of everyday wine - a 12 bottle case every three months, and the Winchester - a specially curated case of prime selection wines consisting of 12 bottles every two months.... On becoming a member you fill in a questionnaire about your personal wine drinking preferences, so you won't get anything you don't like... At £30 per month, I think the Stockbridge Membership is excellent value, not to mention the fact that there's a welcome gift of tote bag, two bottles of good wine and a delicious loaf of sourdough delivered to your door once you subscribe....

There are also additional benefits to becoming a member including discounts on future purchases, a voucher on signing up, first refusal of wine parcels exclusive to wine club members, invitations to tastings and events, Members only tasting events, and savings on partner brands - The Greyhound on the Test, Hoxton Bakehouse and Wilds Catering. Plus if you pay annually you also receive a complimentary bottle of champagne... If you don't fancy a Wine Club Membership for yourself it would make a wonderful gift for someone....

The first choice from our case - Les Volets Chardonnay - described by Wine Utopia as "Bright acidity gives way to green apple and brioche notes. Older oak barrels have added texture and given a toasted hazelnut twist. For those looking for a high-quality Chardonnay, this punches well above its weight..." I would definitely agree with all that. For those that generally dismiss Chardonnay as "too oaky" or "too acidic", this is not the case here - the oak is subtle rather than overpowering, and the wine is not overly acidic at all. I really liked the fresh crisp balance of flavours, and the hint of vanilla with a buttery after taste... Perfect summer drinking material in my opinion (if we ever do get a summer)... Available at Wine Utopia as part of a case or on its own at £9.95 - or £8.95 if you use my discount code -Winchestereatswineclub10 which will get you 10% off purchases in any Wine Utopia store or on any telephone or online orders

Pairing suggestions for this wine (which you receive with each case) were for a mushroom risotto or chicken in a creamy sauce. I went slightly off-piste and asked my Italian friend Paola if I could use her Risotto with Butternut Squash, King Prawns and Sage Beurre Noisette recipe... She's an amazing cook, and I was lucky enough to attend one of her cooking classes when we lived in Cambridge for a short while on our return to the UK. This is one of the dishes she taught me to make and it remains my all-time favourite risotto recipe... I can't wait to attend another of one of her classes or one of her legendary supper clubs when normal times resume...

Risotto with Butternut Squash, King Prawns and Sage Beurre Noissette

Ingredients - serves 4-6

1 butternut squash

Pinch of black pepper

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp. olive oil

50g salted butter

1.3 litres vegetable or chicken stock

1 medium onion, chopped

350g risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)

250ml rosé wine

250g king prawns, raw or cooked

100g mascarpone cheese

6/8 sage leaves, finely shredded

90g peas, cooked

200g Manchego or Parmesan cheese, grated


Peel and de-seed the butternut squash. Cut into 3cm cubes and

lay on a baking tray. Add 1tbsp of the olive oil, a good pinch of

black pepper and the crushed garlic clove. Roast in a 180°C oven

until softened. Set aside to cool.

Have the stock ready and boiling in a saucepan.

Heat the remaining olive oil (1 tbsp.) and 20g of the butter in a

deep, large frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently for about 7

minutes. Stir the risotto rice into the onion then add the rosé wine. Start

adding one ladle of stock at a time, ensuring that the liquid absorbs

before each new addition.

When the rice is cooked (it should be “al dente”), add the cooked

peas, king prawns and 150g of the roasted butternut squash.

Combine gently. Now mix in the mascarpone and 150g of the Manchego/Parmesan

and stir until the cheeses have melted. The end result should be

not dry but a beautifully creamy risotto.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining butter (30g) with the sage

leaves for about 1 minute, until starting to fry gently. Scatter the remaining cubes of butternut squash (150g) over the top of the risotto.

Just before serving, drizzle 1 tbsp. of the sage beurre noisette over

the risotto then top with a good sprinkle of the remaining grated


Serve immediately with some crusty bread and a green salad and a BIG glass of Les Volet's Chardonnay!!

PS. The more eagle eyed of you will notice a prawn missing in my first pic. The joys of food photography with hungry kids around!!!

See you next Wednesday for our review of the second bottle in our Wine Utopia Stockbridge Case...

disclaimer, we were gifted membership of Wine Utopia's Wine Club in return for an honest review...


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