Wednesday 20 January 2010

Bottlegreen Fruit Cordials and Sparkling Drinks

Over Christmas and New Year, 8-year-old Sophie was swanning around, feeling very grown-up while drinking Bottle Green Party in a grown-up glass, which you'll already know if you've read my review here. Despite the Party drink being aimed specifically at teenagers, I really liked it too so I was keen to try out the other Bottle Green drinks on offer.

First of all, I decided to try the other sparkling juice drinks, which come in a choice of white grape or red grape. I liked both but Sophie only liked the white one, claiming that the red one looked and smelt like her Papy (French grandad)'s wine ! They both reminded me of the Shloer drinks I had previously sampled and enjoyed - they have the same light, crisp, refreshing, naturally fruity flavour, but seem to me less syrupy and overly sweet than Shloer. Despite the names that suggest that the drinks only contain grape juice, the drinks are actually subtly blended combinations of fruity flavours. The red grape juice drink contains " a hint of sweet juicy strawberry to counterbalance a tart cherry undertone" and the white grape version incorporates "subtle notes of delicate elderflower and ripe melon". I could never have told you that if I hadn't looked on the website though, so I obviously need to sign up for some winetasting lessons !

That's not as flippant as it sounds actually, as Bottle Green non-alcoholic grape-based drinks do have a lot in common with wine. The website explains, "For those who prefer a lighter option to alcoholic drinks, bottlegreen grape juice drinks have been expertly blended using traditional winemaking skills passed down through the bottlegreen generations to create drinks bubbling with vibrant fresh flavours that compliment a wide range of food dishes…..a perfect non-alcoholic offering for dinner and drinks parties alike." So Sophie wasn't wasn't too far wrong either !

Moving on to the cordials, I was really impressed by the delicious and unusual flavours. I was very wary of the elderflower variety to begin with, having no idea what elderflower would taste like and actually being pleasantly surprised. The flavour is subtle and exotic and after much deliberating, I decided it reminded me vaguely of lychees. Sophie wasn't keen, which was good news for me because I didn't have to share it ! It's a lovely thirst-quenching drink for the summer and is much more refined and natural-tasting than many of the nasty dilutable "fruity" drinks on the market - this is definitely "posh squash" for the grown-ups ! Unlike most cordials on the market, bottlegreen cordials contain no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners which explains why they taste so much more natural and not overly-sweet.

The elderflower cordial was the one that most impressed me because it is so unusual and totally different to anything else I've ever tasted. The range of cordials has something to suit everybody's taste though, from the quintessentially English flavours of a traditional orchard (Cox's Apple & Plum, Russet Apple & Blackberry and Williams Pear & Elderflower) to more exotic flavours (Ginger & Lemongrass, Pomegranate & Elderflower, Orange & Mango). The only one that I wasn't keen on was Spiced Berry, but that's just down to personal taste - it's supposed to be drunk diluted with hot water for a warming winter drink for festive occasions reminiscent of mulled wine, and it is. If you like mulled wine, you'll love it so don't let me put you off !

What I love about Bottle Green cordials is how versatile they are. Even if I don't fancy drinking the Spiced Berry cordial, the website suggests other ways of using it - "bottlegreen Spiced Berry cordial can used to make a host of winter desserts such as Chocolate Roulade with Spiced Berry Compote and Cointreau Cream, or Poached Pears with Spiced Berry Sauce". If you don't fancy getting your chef's hat on, you can play around with the different cordials as ingredients in cocktails (with or without alcohol), or with sparkling water, still water, hot water, champagne, the list of possibilities is endless. You could add a splash to liven up jams, jellies or fruit tarts or, if you're feeling adventurous, use them to make sorbets. (This might be a good time to mention that you can also buy ready-made Bottle Green sorbets at Waitrose too !)

If you normally turn your nose up at the dilutable drinks aisle in the supermarket, go and have a look. They're really high quality, are made with totally natural ingredients, offer some very new and different flavours and, although they may seem more expensive than the usual brands, actually work out at very good value because you only need 1 part cordial to 12 parts water so a bottle goes a long way. If Haagen Dazs is the ice cream for grown ups, Bottle Green is definitely the equivalent for fruit cordial !

star rating : 5/5

RRP £2.89 (depending on the variety and the stockist)

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