Kay Taylor enjoyed a festive knees-up at Huntley’s wine tasting and dinner event
People have different ways of knowing when it’s time to start getting excited about Christmas.
For some, it’s the sound of Christmas songs playing in the shops; others start early when the festive cards hit the shelves; and some wait until the famous Coca Cola advert appears on TV.
For me, it’s the annual wine tasting and dinner event at Huntley’s Farm in Samlesbury.
People of all ages (well, over 18s) gather in the restaurant to sample wines from the Barrica Wines store within Huntley’s farm shop, and to enjoy a two-course meal afterwards.
The family-run restaurant is open all year round, serving soups, pies, roasts and puddings from locally-sourced produce, all in a homely, rustic environment.
But the place really comes to life when the wine-lovers roll into town, and the buffet of alcohol ensures the conversation and laughter keeps flowing all night.
This year, Barrica put on a selection of over 100 different reds, whites, rosés, Champagne, port, brandy, and rum.
At just £10 a ticket, it’s great value for money (although you’re not expected to sample everything), and it’s an excellent opportunity to taste a variety of drinks that you wouldn’t normally buy a full bottle of.
I’m not a wine buff by any standards, and I don’t know where the grapes come from for my favourite beverages, but those are the kind of questions you can ask as you browse the tables.
Otherwise, you can just enjoy a good knees-up with your group of new friends.
I made a bee-line for the Champagnes, because at around £25 to £40 a bottle, it’s not something I get to try very often.
I also enjoyed sipping a £28 Rioja and a £40 rum, which both packed a punch, but the cheaper wines are good too, such as a £7 Sauvingnon Blanc and an £8 Merlot.
As for the food, it was delicious.
I’ve been to a few dinner tastings at Huntley’s before, where you get a different wine with each course of a formal meal, and the food is always exceptional.
For the Christmas tastings, the meals are usually a bit more low-key, and people make their way to the tables when they’re ready.
It costs an extra £15 per person for the supper, and this time, it was cottage pie for the main, and Christmas crumble for dessert.
It’s comfort food, ideal for soaking up the booze before a good night’s sleep, and I suppose you can’t expect much from such a humble dish of cottage pie.
But it was great; one of the best I’ve ever had, with steaming mashed potato and juicy meat with carrots and peas.
Huntley’s restaurant has recently welcomed new chef Simon Bower, who previously worked under celebrity chef Marco Pierre White in London.
I don’t know his secret, but I was very impressed, and the Christmas crumble was a festive alternative to apple pie.
It had cinnamon and raisins in among the piping hot, sweet apples, and the crumble was extremely tasty.
All in all, it was a great evening to kick off the Christmas period, and all I have left to do now is put up the tree.
And buy everyone’s presents. Maybe a trip to Barrica Wines is in order.
Name: Huntley’s Restaurant
Address: Huntley Gate Farm, Whalley Road, Samlesbury, Lancashire
Disabled ACCESS: Yes
Contact: 01772 872814