NatDecants: the FREE Wine and Food Pairing App from Natalie MacLean

(c) Natalie MacLean

If you love drinking wine at dinner parties with friends, but aren’t overly confident in your ability to match the perfect grapes to the perfect foods, then this absolute gem of an iPhone App from award-winning wine journalist Natalie MacLean may well be your saving grace.

With an incredibly user-friendly interface,  Natalie’s made this App as easy and accessible as her wine journalism. Described as “your pocket sommelier” this free App contains pretty much everything you need to be an impressive host or guest. Not just an extremely comprehensive wine pairing guide packed with very specific wine and food pairings, Nat Decants is also full of delicious recipes, reviews and articles, plus your very own ‘virtual cellar’ where you can record your wine purchases  – or those that you’ve already drunk – as well as your wine investments.

As someone who often does ridiculous things with her spare time like alphabetising her DVDs and cataloguing her book library, the virtual cellar is something which is immensely appealing to my inner obsessive compulsive. You can catalogue wines by type, name, date purchased, date consumed, year, grape, region, country, price, alcohol, tasting notes… What a wonderful procrastination tool, eh? Just what I need on a rainy pyjama day when want to do something self-indulgent and not remotely useful to anyone else. Excellent.

I’ll definitely be using this App for my next dinner party.

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Qype: Taj in Brighton

BrightonShoppingFood & DrinkSupermarkets

I’ve got to say I much prefer this Taj to the one on the corner of St. James’ Street. It’s a fair bit bigger and has a meat counter as well as a deli that sells freshly made and incredibly tasty curries. I can never resist the offer three of their delicious onion bhaji’s for £1 – quite spicy (buy a drink too!), but totally delicious. They do sell these at the other branch, but they’re hidden behind the tills and never taste quite as fresh.

The selection of fruit and veg is bigger and better here too, as is their bakery (alas, no fresh gluten-free bread though) their excellent range of herbs and spices. I even find the staff friendlier here – when I was on futile quest for dried lavender in the middle of May last week, I had the manager on the phone to other shops trying to find me some. The other branch could take some customer service tips from this one. Saying that, on the same day I was completely ignored for about 15 minutes while the guy on the deli counter chatted loudly into his mobile phone. On loudspeaker. You win some, you lose some, eh?

Check out my review of Taj – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype