An ex-Python leads me to the Holy Grail of dining
Joseph Connolly shares a joke and a delicious meal with former Monty Python star Michael Palin at Orrery in the Conran Shop in Marylebone High Street and manages to get a lot of his Christmas shopping done too Sit back, pour a glass of something you ve selected from last week s seasonal recommendations and relax: last-minute wine-related shopping can be done from the comfort of home. That s one of the great advantages of the internet – and it s not yet too late
Sit back, pour a glass of something you've selected from last week's seasonal recommendations and relax: last-minute wine-related shopping can be done from the comfort of home. That's one of the great advantages of the internet - and it's not yet too late. All the sites below can deliver before Christmas.
First, bottles. WineBeerExpress works on the very simple model of order one day by 6pm, receive your case (six bottles minimum) the next day. Log on to www.winebeer express.com for a very decent choice of classics, familiar names and rarer bottles - like these two excellent Spanish reds, warm and spicy La Riada old vines garnacha 2007, �5, and stylish Abadengo Crianza 2004, �11. There are well-priced mixed cases, too. Delivery is �6, Christmas order deadline Tuesday for Wednesday delivery.
Still on Spanish temptations, think Torres - but not only wine. Alongside a bottle of the serious but approachable cabernet sauvignon/ tempranillo Gran Coronas 2005, the Torres Food and Wine box contains Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, Bonito de Norte white tuna line-caught in the Bay of Biscay and Manzanilla olives hand-harvested near Seville.
The box costs �38 from on-line delicatessen www.edeli. co.uk, which has many more Spanish delicacies. For Ham&High readers, edeli has extended the Christmas order deadline to midday tomorrow - specify next day delivery (�8.95) and enter 'Ham&High' in the comment box at checkout.
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Yet more Spanish delights: specialist merchant Moreno in Maida Vale offers a vinous tour from cava to Ribera del Duero in its �90 12-bottle special offer case. Phone 020-7286 0678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details and order by Sunday evening (December 20) for pre-Christmas delivery at just �5.
If you prefer to support local industry, Bookers Vineyard in Sussex will take orders until midnight on Monday. The 2009 Autumn Spice dry white (�9) is, its makers say, "the best ever", or a voucher for the excellent vineyard tour (from �20 for two) makes a great present. See www.bookers vineyard. co.uk.
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Dream rather than drink, and plan to visit the vineyards. Wine writer Wink Lorch has lined up an expert list of contributors at www.winetravelguides.com, offering detailed insider information on where to go, what to taste, good places to stay and eat, and much more. Fifty French, Italian and
Spanish wine regions from Alsace to Siena are there already, with more to come in 2010.
The guides can now be consulted free on-line, but to get the full, up-to-date benefit buy a gift gold membership, which allows pdf downloads of all the guides for a year. Normal price is �29, but for Ham&High readers it's only �20 - on the gift page, enter promotional code D2HH1209. If you're buying it as a gift, the membership voucher can go directly to the recipient, or be sent to you for forwarding. The offer is valid until January 11 2010.
Finally, if you're stuck for a different seasonal party game, or an idea for wine-buff friends, try The Tasting Game, �20 from www.winegiftcentre. com, which offers a host of other suggestions from the sensible - tasting glasses, �15 for six - to the whackiest - blue champagne socks, �5. Order by next Monday, or Tuesday using the express option.
o Tomorrow (Friday) is deadline day for Christmas deliveries from Jeroboams in Heath Street, Hampstead - and if you order by then there's a 15 per cent case discount.