But perhaps the biggest success of the weekend was getting dancers from Poland, Hungary and Russia to drink English Vodka... albeit a liqueur style vodka-based drink. Caralicious from the Fabulous Vodka company based in Marlow, Bucks (£19 from fabulousvodka.co.uk) was the fuel for the weekend. At 25% abv it's not going to knock your dancing off par (unless you drink it in wine like quantities). It gives a gentle glow and takes the edge of the nerves. It is beautifully sweet and for serious wine buffs, it has enough of the "tawny port" toffee tones to pair with dessert.
For my next bottle, and there will be more, I intend to try mixing it into different cocktail variants and pouring it on ice-cream where it might work as well as a Pedro Ximenex sweet sticky sherry. It's not wine, but it has an unctuous quality, and a breadth of sweet flavours that made it a huge hit with the ladies. I have orders for 3 more bottles which I'll be fulfilling at my favourite Marlow shop, Alfred the Grape, tomorrow. Now that's what I call a success. That's where I also had the pleasure of tasting the Oak Aged Vodka Cask Two which was aged in a dark rum cask. It has a slightly spicy flavour reminiscent of Christmas. The Fabulous Vodka company (also based in Marlow) have an interesting range including a sparkling vodka and a Polish potato vodka. They also have a gin on offer. So, if you're looking for something different, then there's sure to be something here to tempt you.
Being Scottish, it was only right that I shared plenty of single malt, and the drink of choice was Auchentoshan triple distlled lowland malt. Growing up just a few miles from the distillery, I could never have imagined that one day I would be drinking it at daccing event with 470 people from over 20 countries! It's smooth, delicate with citrus and vanilla tones and has now been a hit at dance events on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm proud of my local products!
As for the wine, the weekend of dancing meant it was going to be about what worked best at room temperature and mixed with sparkling water, not an easy task for any wine... so, in my dance shoe bag I carried Hilltop Estate Gewurz from Hungary, sadly now discontinued by Waitrose. At the clearance price of £5.99 it was perfect for the job.
Being the UK and European championships, I was lucky enough to socialise with friends from home and abroad. I was offered a lovely tasting of a red Sancerre which certainly livened up the proceedings on Sunday night. Pinot Noir is such an expressive grape that every one tastes different, yet can only be Pinot Noir. I will seek out more of this and do a proper review another time. From my beloved international dancers, I also received gifts of a beautiful Hungarian Eszencia dessert wine, and a wonderful Grand Cru Gewurztraminer from Alsace. I shall take great pleasure in drinking them both and sharing the experience with you, my dear readers, in the near future.
To share in the joy of the weekend, feel free to buy and taste the drinks mentioned. Or, watch the clip below.