Treat Yourself

The festive season brings treats galore, and there’s nothing wrong with a moment or two of self indulgence. Here’s an exceptional beer and a remarkable wine we think you’ll enjoy, together with two new dishes created by recipe developer Jennifer MacKenzie as the ideal complement to each.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon

In Scotland they often age single-malt whisky in wine barrels, so why not age wine in whiskey barrels? That was the thinking at the Robert Mondavi winery in California when they took an aged Monterey County Cabernet Sauvignon, bursting with black cherry and cassis flavours, and aged it for a further three months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The juicy black fruit is still paramount but there are subtle hints of something rather unexpected — vanilla and brown sugar, walnuts and, yes, a trace of bourbon in the aftertaste.

Gouden Carolus Cuvée van de Keizer Blauw

This remarkable beer is brewed only once a year at the Het Anker brewery in Mechelen, Belgium, on February 24, anniversary of the birth of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1500. It’s a sweet dark ale that can be aged for years in your cellar, where it will develop an ever more complex braid of roasted malts, prunes, caramel and cocoa. And at 11% alcohol by volume (ABV), it definitely deserves contemplative sipping — ideally by the fireside with one or two other beer aficionados.