Whilst Argentina might be the better known South American team for Rugby, Chile’s route in qualifying for the 2023 RWC in France has been incredible. In particular, in two amazing matches in which Los Condores defeated both Canada and the USA – which showed incredible passion, pace & flair. Backed up by some brilliant coaching from Pablo Lemoine, whose ability to read & react to the action on the pitch, but also read the opposing team, has been instrumental in Chile’s meteoric rise.  Head coach Lemoine, a Uruguayan who played in two RWC for his home country before coaching that national squad. With Chile, he has encouraged an ambitious, open attacking style of play. Interestingly, from his initial squad of 46 for training, before final selection, every player in the squad was Chilean. 

In their Pool, Chile face England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa – which based on their qualifying matches, not one of those teams should be resting easy. It will also be a great moment for South America as Chile will face Argentina in the pool – the first ever all South American RWC match. Regardless, if you support Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil or Paraguay – this is great news for emerging rugby on that continent and for the wider rugby family.

One of the noticeable aspects of the Chilean team through the qualifiers, was the cohesion within the team, who all play together on a regular basis (many for Selknam team) – a focus on getting results by playing as a team rather than relying on the talent of individual players to carry them through. The work rate, especially around the try line is phenomenal. 


Captain: Martin Sigren 

Player to Watch: Santiago Videla (go seek out the clip on You Tube of his kick that put them in the lead against the USA in qualifying!)

For more information on Chilean Rugby:

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Chile


Ideal match day food is Empanada de Pino – beer or wine in one hand, Empanada in the other – perfect! Think something along the lines of a Cornish pastry – Fillings are traditionally beef, hard -boiled egg, raisins, olives and lots of juicy onions but of course everyone’s Grandmother has the best recipe!   Most of them come designed with props in mind – but if you want to make it more elegant, make canapé sized ones stuffed with cheese instead. Order direct from  (free delivery) or if you fancy making them at home,  there is an excellent recipe online

Another great one for feeding a crowd at half time is pastel de choclo. Sort of a South American riff on a cottage pie, but topped with sweetcorn, it is considered by many to be Chile’s national dish. There is a good recipe online from Raul Diaz, a Chilean Sommelier. 

There is hot competition in South America as to who does the best BBQ’s – and having enjoyed many asado in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, I’m not putting my head above the parapet of diplomatic chaos. But if the weather is fine for a pre match BBQ, then Chilean style with lots of beef. Morcilla (black pudding), chicken, sausage, chorizo…. 

 A completo the Chilean street version of a Hot Dog topped with a host of stuff including mayo, onions, mustard, ketchup and smashed avocado (all at the same time!)- though I’ve ever been totally convinced, the profusion of Completo stalls in Chile’s Capital Santiago, means I’m in the minority!

Sopaipillas are made of a simple dough of squash, flour & salt. Deep fried to golden small thick pancakes –one is never enough. Can be topped with Pebre sauce (coriander, onion, pepper & tomato). Recipe on


Beer:  Look out for Austral – either the regular pale Lager or their Austral Calafate (fermented with Calafate berries in Patagonia). Two big brands are Cristal or Escudo – again both pale lagers. If you are looking for a Craft Ale, seek out Kunstmann, a brewery with German influences in Valdivia. 


I’ve been lucky enough to plan & escort wine tours to Chile for over a quarter of a century – and over those 23 tours to the vineyards, it been fascinating to see the rapid expansion & diversification of the Chilean wine trade. From the traditional handful of regions, mostly close to the capital Santiago, the vineyards have now expanded from the very north to deep in the South of this long, elongated country (2653 miles long). Grapes for wine production (not just for distillation – see Pisco below) are now planted in the Northerly Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, down to Chiloe, a small island in Patagonia – where its so cold, they have penguins!

A crowd pleaser for a party is Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, from their Coastal vineyards giving a freshness to the wines. Available

Tara is a project by Vina Ventiqueo, where the vines are planted in the South of the arid Atacama Desert. The white, from Chardonnay is a unique style of wine, really reflecting a sense of terroir – there is a nervy vibrancy, linear acidity, and yet underlying salinity. A great wine, not the price tag of every day at £33 but if it’s on a wine list, I simply must order it – it is that intriguing.   If Chile make it through the pool matches – this is the wine to celebrate with! Available

Am aware that there will be a huge range of rugby fans reading this – some who want an easy quaffer and some seeking out more interesting wines. So, I hesitated before mentioning the next one: It’s a Bag in Box Red from Waitrose – simply called Soft, Red and Juicy and it’s a blend of Merlot, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. At £14.95 (equivalent to £4.99 a bottle) , its never going to be a wine to write tasting notes about, but if you’ve a hard drinking crowd in for the match – it will do exactly as it says on the label!

Staying with the good value option – from brilliant producers, Cono Sur, try their Bicicleta Pinot Noir will be a great match (no pun intended) for lighter red to enjoy with the Empanada.  Just £5.99 on mix six deal from

Staying with the same producer and same grape variety, if you’re looking for something more serious – get your hands on a bottle of Ocio Pinot Noir from Cono Sur. Their icon celebration of this fickle grape variety, it’s a wine to relax with and have patience with time in the glass. £60 from

Although there are vast swathes of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in Chile, and Carmenere had the reputation of the red flagship variety for Chile for many years, Syrah is one variety that is producing some great world class wines. One of the original Icon wines to look out for is Montes Folly Syrah – with the beautiful label designed by Ralph Steadman. Worth it’s £50 plus price tag (available – but do look out for the wide range from Montes (, reliable and delicious across the range from great value entry level through to their Alpha Chardonnay and quirky Outer Limits label. Many of them are stocked by indie wine merchant

National Drink:  Pisco – or more precisely Pisco Sour, the signature cocktail that celebrates this Chilean Brandy. Although there is much discussion between Peru & Chile about who makes the best version, it appears that it arrived from Peru into Chile in 1872 via an Englishman! Pisco aficionados, will endlessly discuss the merits of each brand of Pisco with the same intensity of Whisky lovers – but here in the UK, there are a small number of Piscos available – best place for range (currently listing 20 styles of Pisco) is

For more information about Chilean Wine –



Ranked 16th in the World, Portugal last appeared in the RWC in 2007, when it was last held in France! Known as Os Lobos, they were the final qualifiers for this year’s competition, for only the second time in their history.

Rugby was very much a student Sport for many years in Portugal, without really making much impact outside of the Universities, it was only the late 1950’s when they formed a National League. But qualifying for the RWC in 2007, inspired a generation of younger players, who have been working their way up and believed in a stronger future for Portugal’s National side. This was reflected in them winning the Under 20 Championship for three years. 

Frenchman Patrice Lagisquet, was part of the French National Coaching side before moving to become Head Coach of the Portuguese team in 2019. Knowns as the Bayonne Express , his style of rugby as a player bodes well for this young Portuguese team, play with ball in hand, and to entertain!

Portugal might be the seen as the outsiders in their pool – with matches against Wales (an old score from 1994 to settle), Australia, Fiji, and Georgia, but this side plays with passion and ambition. Looking at past recent games, these will be matches to watch of pure enjoyment of open play. With one of the strongest back threes in Tier two Rugby, and a good balance of youth and experience, including scrum half Samuel Marques, whose cool head and reliable kick rate on conversions, could be a huge help to this exciting Portuguese side. 

As there are more than one million Portuguese living in Paris and across France, Os Lobos can be sure of a strong wave of supporters when they are on the pitch.  

Captain: Tomas Appleton, with his charismatic smile, is a player who inspires his team.

Players to Watch: Raffaele Storti – a super talented winger, he was top try scorer in the U20 Championship. 

For more information on Portugal Rugby

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Portugal


A relatively small country, Portugal has a variety of foods to tempt. Ideal for match day nibbles are Pasteis de Bacalhau, or Salt Cod Fritters. Might sound slightly niche but are irresistible!  If you’re lucky to live in Cardiff, Bristol or Bath get to one of the Nata Shops –  or you can buy on line at

For something a little more filling, why not make a Francesinha – a rib packing toasted sandwich from Porto which includes layers of meats, such as steak, ham and sausage, topped with cheese (sometime with a fried egg too!)  and then finished with a beer sauce – sounds perfect rugby food – ideal also for hangover brunches – (napkins are required!)

An easy but hearty dish to get ready ahead of the match ready for half time to soak up the beers, is Arroz de Pato (Duck Rice) from the Alentejo region. Simply shredded duck baked with rice, topped with spicy sausage and orange slices – always a winner, despite what might be happening on the pitch. 

Portuguese cheeses are not that easy to find in the UK but if you can find some Serra de Estrela, a sheep’s cheese from the highest mountains in the country, often eaten with a spoon or the herbal notes of Azeitao produced south of Libson. Sometimes available from or try Portuguese online Deli


Beer:  Two brands to seek out are Super Bock and Sagres, the former available in several UK supermarkets. 


Portugal is home to 14 main wine regions, within which there is a huge variety of sub regions and  styles, not to mention more than 250 grape varieties planted! Thanks to this diversity, there is wine to suit all palates from Sparkling to Vinho Verde, Alvarinho to complex Douro reds (from the classic Port varieties) and of course onto Madeira and the Azores. 

The Azores, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, far from the Portuguese coast, makes delightful wines from volcanic soils. Rugby Playing Wine Maker Antonio Macanita at The Azores Wine Company  ( )makes a great range from single varietal whites such as their Verdelho, zinging with acidity and attractive minerally, through to a perfect summer Rosé and a red blend from 12 different varieties! Available from

Portugal has long supplied many entry level wines to British supermarkets, giving a good value range. One that ticks all the boxes for a Rugby party, when nothing too serious is required – and complete with brilliant label – try The Sardine Submarine (just £7.99) available at Waitrose. Uncomplicated, easy drinking red! /

The beautiful Douro Valley is famous not only for Ports, and also for powerful complex reds – but the region also produces tempting crisp whites such as Gouveio from Quinta da Romaneira – lots of crisp apples and a real textural wine. Available

White Port and Tonic makes a great alternative to G&T as a pre match sharpener. But for post-match analysis, time to pour something different (and definitely without tonic!) – and a unique and different style of white port. Once tasted – Always reordered! A real revelation in a glass – a true meditation wine.  Andresen 10 Year old White Port. Available

If there is a particular style of Portuguese wine you are trying to track down, do check out the portfolio at a brilliant wine importer with some of the best names in Portugal, such as Quinta dos Roques and Quinta do Vale do Meao. they will be happy to let you know of local stockists.

For more about Portuguese Wines:


Welcome to celebrating the Rugby World Cup 2023.

What better way to cheer your team on than invite around a few friends and watch the game together.

At Love Wine Food Ltd, we are a Rugby loving household, so each RWC and Six Nations, we get into the spirit of the match by enjoying Wine & Food from both teams on the pitch.

So, join in the fun – scroll through each team for tempting foodie and drink from each country competing in the RWC2023 for your essential Match Day party, from simple nibbles to delicious regional specialities.

As most Ruby fans, at the RWC, as well as your own home team to cheer, we all have a second team to support in other matches – so maybe explore the food & drink from Chile, Portugal, or Uruguay amongst others, as well as your home nation. It makes other matches into a great fun event – and remember – We are #rugbyfamily

If you decide to cook any of my foodie suggestions, indulge in a cheeseboard or pop open some of the recommended wines – do tell what you’re enjoying and where! Don’t forget to tag us on social media  #lovewinefood

Enjoy the Rugby!


PS if you’d like to stay in touch and hear more about food & wine, do drop us an email


We want you to share the love with us and the wider #rugbyfamily – so share your photos of your rugby match day food & drink on Instagram. Tell us who you are supporting and where you are!

Tag us with #LoveWineFoodRWC23 – and be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of my book – Watercress, Willow & Wine: A Celebration of English Wine & Recipes.

(Closing Date: 30th October 2023. Winner will be contacted on Instagram by DM. P&P included.)



Ireland come into the Rugby World Cup on a high, retaining their rating of Number One in the World. But for many teams, it’s been a slightly scrappy lead into this world cup in the Autumn Series, with either under performance from the first-tier teams, or lack of discipline or through injury – and despite Ireland having won their last 14 games, they are not outright favourites to win the RWC. But for many a Northern Hemisphere Rugby Fan, they are hoping for an Ireland vs France Final. 

The men in green have never made it beyond the quarter final stage of a RWC – but they are hoping to correct this in France this Autumn. If they do win, it will be only the second time a Northern Hemisphere team have lifted the Webb Ellis trophy (after England in 2003).

The good news is that their talisman, Johnny Sexton is back from a three-match ban, that saw him miss the warmup matches in August. Inspirational, experienced and an outstanding player, it must be an underlying concern to Head Coach Andy Farrell, that so much focus in on one player – an obvious target to all opposing teams, lets hope that Sexton avoids injury.

Ireland are always a delight to watch, playing with self-belief and verve – a great team across the board, sadly missing the excellent Cian Healy and also Cian Prendergast, through injury.  

Captain: Johnny Sexton

Player to Watch: Tadgh Furlong for sheer stability and James Lowe for some exciting fleet of foot moments on the wing. 

For more information on Irish Rugby

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Ireland

Food: With that “soft” weather that Ireland enjoys, this results in some luscious pasture so great feed for cattle but also wonderful dairy products. Thick Irish cream is a glory to see – and when converted in cheese….! Ireland has enjoyed a real foodie revolution, perhaps inspired by the success of Ballymalloe cookery school. But throughout the country and especially around Cork and out to the West coast, is a large number of small independent producers of everything from the wonderful people at who not only make amazing cheese but also rather moreish chorizo as well. Or take a look at who smoke just about everything from duck to chicken. 

One of the easiest things to make is soda bread – and very quick as well with no kneading– so have a go (see  ready to enjoy with an Irish Cheese platter. As well as the delicious Gubbeen above -, look out for goats cheese from, add some sweet Cashel Blue (heavenly with a slice of pear) and why not add in some cheese made from coastal grazing cows – 

A great one for finger food during the match is the delicious Clonakility Black Pudding – simply heat through and chop into small rings.

Colcannon is a main stay of Irish pub food – and is a glorious way to enjoy mashed potato with lightly boiled cabbage mixed through (needs lots of butter and cream – or make Champ with spring onions not cabbage). For match day ease – prepare in advance, make into small patties and pan fry  in advance– warm through for the match – in the style of a potato Boxty.

With apologies for our Celtic friends in Scotland but some of the most delicious smoked Salmon comes from the Emerald Isle. Cold Smoked with seaweed from the team at Burren Smokehouse is irresistible. Serve simply with warm soda bread, some butter from and heaven!

When talking to an Irish friend – he was horrified at talking about Irish food without talking about bacon & cabbage. A good solid warming dish – apparently the key is cooking the cabbage in the water the bacon (pork) was cooked in.  I did start musing how I could make this more match day friendly to eat – perhaps using the cabbage as leaves to wrap small cigar shapes stuffed with the pork – but the look I got from a usually easy going Irish man convinced me that traditional it is!

For snacks of course if you don’t have time for any of the above – well it can only be one thing – Tayto – the Irish Crisp!


Beer: Guinness. The Black Stuff.  Enough said – well not quite. (Though I’ve yet to meet a rugby supporter who does not say yes to a pint of it whilst watching rugby), there are other Irish beers out there.  I don’t just mean Murphys or Beamish – good though they are too.  Or maybe Kilkenny red ale.  There is a booming Craft Brewing industry in Ireland – in 2012 there were just 15 breweries in Ireland, today there are over 75, with a great range of diverse styles.  

Do look out for the following:

Galway Hooker – perennially popular and one of Irelands original craft ale – sold on tap and in bottles.

Leann Folliain  from O’Hara- looking to topple Guinness in the stout taste stakes – there are coffee & chocolate aromas in this smooth newcomer.

The Hurler from 4 Provinces inspired by the brewers love of Hurling, this unfiltered copper ale comes from Dublin.

Reel Deel from County Mayo feature an Irish Blond

For more information, check out the Irish equivalent of Camra –

Wine: Now you’d be telling me that there is no wine produced in Ireland – well it is an officially listed wine producing country – but there are only a handful of small estates, some around County Cork and one just outside Dublin whose annual production is just several hundred bottles 

However, there is a group of Wine makers scattered around the world referred to as “Wine Geese” (or Wild Geese by some). Named after the Wild Geese exodus of Irish soldiers to France in 17th Century and today represents Irish families who are involved in wine making around the world. The most known are two families who went to Bordeaux – the Lynchs and the Bartons and went onto to become Leoville-Barton, today owned by the very hospitable Barton family, and Ch. Lynch-Bages on Bordeaux’s Left Bank. There are a host of other Bordeaux Chateau with Iris ancestry including Chateaux: Kirwan, Phelan-Segur, Margaux, Clark and Dillon.

But other Irish families emigrated even further and Australia, the US, Chile and South Africa also have their fair share of these Wine Geese. See the links below.

I am not suggesting that you open a bottle of Chateau Margaux (at about £600 a bottle) whilst watching the match  – but do look at the web links to a range of these below – and to find their wines in the UK try All of the Bordeaux Chateaux have multiple outlets in the UK so look at a Wine Broker like


United States


South Africa

Whiskey:  And should you need something to ether celebrate or commiserate at the end of the match then look for a small glass of Irish Whisky such as  or or or for a small distillery from Ireland’s South West Coast –



Gli Azzurri are always an unknown quantity and show so much promise, which sadly does not deliver as often as it should. They are capable of good solid play with some mercurial running as they have shown in various matches, but in the past, too often fades into disarray. However, there is a proud and robust seam of confidence emerging in the team – with focus, discipline and having the power to be effective for 80 minutes – this now the norm rather than the exception. Under Head Coach Kieran Crowley, the Italian team is beginning to make their mark. Beating Australia at the end of 2022, and France definitely felt the pressure of the Italians much improved attach in the recent Six Nations (France won just by 29 -24) – and let’s not forget that epic final try when they beat Wales last year. (Who can forget Josh Adams handing his Player of the Match medal to Ange Capuozzo!)

In Pool A alongside the powerhouses of New Zealand and France, Italy will be looking to move up a gear with each match and hoping for a shock result against either of the giants – or realistically a third place to qualify further. Starting against Namibia then Uruguay, two matches, which although a challenge, will hopefully settle them and grow confidence before facing New Zealand and finally the hosts France. With the second youngest squad in the tournament, with an average age of 27 years, this is an Italian team who have belief in how they have developed and grown in recent seasons – and know they are capable of upsetting some of the bigger names.

Captain: Michele Lamaro – one of the nicest players in World Rugby, respectful and a great team player. Superb at tackling.

Player to Watch:  Several contenders in this much in this young squad – Palo Garbisi is becoming a lynchpin on the pitch but for me it is the incredible Ange Capuozzo, thankfully back after injury, who will attract much attention for his speed, intelligent read of play – and hopefully tries!

For more information about Italian Rugby –

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching the Azzurri

Food: Italy is still blessed with a great regional difference in its food and so there is quite simply nothing that can be defined as “Italian”.  So below is a suggestion of various match day friendly foods from various parts of Italy, that won’t distract too much from the play!

Antipasto platter – the simplest of all to create as it is assemblage not cooking! Any good deli should stock a range of quality products that can be simply arranged artistically but worth looking on line for some great produce as well:  green queen olives, a selection of cured meats – but make sure they are the real McCoy but checking they are DOP or IGP marked. Culatello is the queen of Parma ham and worth searching out – especially made by the lovely Spiegaroli family, But you also need some salami – maybe fennel salami, plus some coppa (cut from the neck), speck from the Alto Adige region and maybe even some lardo, 

A mixed antipasti would not be complete without some griddled artichokes and some pickled vegetables – giardniera – which are easy enough to make (see Jamie Oliver for a recipe) and maybe some baby onions pickled in balsamic vinegar.  

For something from the sea, white anchovies (not the tinned ones) would be a good addition. Then add a variety of crostini – which is all about the bread, so do get Pane Pugliese from (avail Waitrose). Once toasted, add either fresh chopped tomato & basil – chicken liver pate – pesto of whichever variety takes your fancy , topped with chopped mozzarella – fig & ham – the combinations are endless……..

To source some authentic Italian products, you could try the ever brilliant 

For a delicious cheese platter – do visit . Choose classics such as to Gorgonzola Dolce for the blue, regal Parmigiano Reggiano (with some chestnut honey to drizzle over it) Pecorino from sheep milk and of course some Taleggio. But they have an awesome selection of formaggi so try some lesser-known ones such as:

La Tur – an exquisite, triple cream cheese from Piemonte

Brunet Alta Langa – Soft goat’s cheese

Castelmagno – the King of Cheeses. Crumbly and unmistakable (any leftover makes great sauce for gnocchi)

Occelli al Barolo – Sweet grassy alpine cheese, which is coated in Nebbiolo grapes, from Barolo wine, aged in oak barrels. 

Pecorino Moliterno – Sardinian pecorino which is infused with black truffles whist aging. 

Smoked Burrata – Mozzarella stuffed with offcuts of mozzarella & cream and then naturally smoked over beech for a smoky taste.

Before you pop out to buy this bounty – then put the dough for Paul Hollywood’s  (  Green Olive breadsticks to prove – it’s a super easy recipe and guaranteed to impress  (I tend to use half the number of olives that are in his book).

Finally, there is one easy match day food that will be a crowd pleaser – Pizza!  But you don’t need me to tell you how to make it – be it ordered in from your local Pizzeria or making your own dough from scratch (amazingly easy and great fun – HFW has a great recipe online).

So why not try making something a little different, Sfincione – aka Sicilian Pizza. A focaccia like base, topped with thick tomato sauce with onions, topped with anchovy fillets, caciocavallo cheese and breadcrumbs – simple to make in a large baking tray and cut in squares – delicious! has a good recipe online, though I’d replace the basil with Oregano! 

Drink: The image of Italian beer is chilled, easy drinking lager to enjoy on a sunny terrace and whilst Peroni and Nastro Azzurro tick that box, there is a broader range of beers to look out for from Italy. Widely available is Morretti, from Udine in the North-East of Italy, both the original and the Rosso versions. There is an increase in the highly experimental Birra Artigianale from Italy – so do look out for ones such as Birradamare

Wine: Italian wine is the most diverse in the world, with every region of Italy producing wine – and often from truly local grape varieties that are not seen anywhere else. Having lived in Italy for 5 years and spent 26 years visiting her vineyards from North to South, I could wax lyrical for hours about the many wines to tempt you – but for now a few suggestions for your match day party:

Chardonnay, Nascetta, Sauvignon and Riesling – an unusual white blend but one that really works. Dragon Langhe Bianco Luigi Baudana. Made by the adorable Vajra family in Piemonte, this is one of my “always in the fridge” wines as it’s delightful drinkable. Flavours peel away of apples, pears and good balance of acidity with the Riesling coming through on the finish. £13.50 from

Forget dire jugs of Soave experienced in touristy trattorias – Soave is a glorious white wine when made by an outstanding producer – Pieropan. Their Soave Classico, is a celebration of the Garganega grape variety, which gives white floral aromas, crisp yet textured wine, with an underlying touch of almond. £19

Pinot Bianco is a grape variety flying under the radar for many wine lovers, but so worth seeking out especially as in this great one Pinot Bianco Tradition from stellar producer Terlano, in Alto Adige. Forget any word association you brain might play with the Pinot Grigio grape – nothing like it – instead think White Burgundy but with freshness, minerality and purity. Any of the whites from this world class producer are outstanding – for stockists contact –

In honour of the Italian captain Michel Lamaro, who was born in Rome, a red wine from Lazio. Made from Cesanese, a red variety only found really in this region, it is an enchanting, lighter style, ideal as a lunch wine! Raspberry notes, with bright acidity (great with the Sfincione above) from an aristocratic producer, Principi Pallavicini. Available £13.50 from

From the east of Florence, in the small Chianti Rufina region, try this Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva. Exquisite and elegant interpretation of the Sangiovese grape, with freshness and silky tannins – this is Chianti with style. £18 from

Piemonte is home to the very famous red wines of  Barolo & Barbaresco, usually with a price tag more than one would spend whilst watching rugby. But do look out for Langhe Nebbiolo – from same area and same grape variety, but from younger vineyards and can be a great value alternative whilst still great quality. Ethereal, notes of cherries, slightly spicy, white pepper, and star anise. For this quality of wine and an amazing great price/value ratio for Langhe Nebbiolo from Produttori del Barbaresco £25 from

Cocktail: Given that Treviso is one of the leading Italian Rugby teams, and they are based in the Veneto region – it would be appropriate on match day to serve their most famous local cocktail – Aperol Spritz   very simple to make and Aperol is widely available. Below is the recipe though I recommend adding in a large queen green olive on a stick, as gives a hit of briny salinity.

National Drink: Grappa! I know – so many options but I chose Grappa as it is made in every region of Italy.  And appreciate that it is not to everyone’s taste, usually based on a bad experience with some dire rocket fuel given as a freebie in some Italian restaurant at the end of a meal. But there are some really, rather good Grappa out there – so do give it a go by searching out leading producer Poli, whose range of grappa really reflect the flavour of the distillation.



Kicking off the RWC 2023 will be the match of the host nation, France vs New Zealand’s All Blacks, which promises to be an enthralling game to begin the tournament.

Under Fabien Galthié, this French team have been assiduous in their focus and long build up over the last four years to the RWC. Watching them develop, has been reminiscent of the glory days of mercurial, ball in hand, running French rugby that I remember growing up!

Much has been said about the outstanding Antoine Dupont – quite rightly rated by many as the best player in the world right now, but one man does not a team make, though he always leads from the front and is unfaltering in attack. France will sorely miss the magical skills of injured Romain Ntmack, but they have depth of skill in their squad Including Julian Marchand, Damian Peynaud and the brilliant Gael Fickou.

Although only rated third in the world, behind Ireland and South Africa, this dangerous French team looms over the tournament like a panther waiting to pounce.  Strong in defence, (thanks to the excellent Shaun Edwards) but also determined in every aspect of play, including some spectacular offloading.

But there is incredible pressure for the French team to deliver on the expectations – many a French team of old, have let emotions take over and derail their match plan, but I think this squad is made of more focus. In the words of the French Captain on the Eve of their first match of the tournament:

“There’s pressure because we’re expected to do well, and we’ve built up people’s hopes over the last four seasons with the results we’ve had. But the pressure isn’t as high as the motivation and standards we set ourselves – or our ambition. Above all, we believe in ourselves. That’s what drives us. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last four years.”

This is the second time that France have hosted the RWC, and despite reaching the final three times, the Webb Ellis Cup has escaped them. So as host and with strong home support, France will be playing their hearts out to finally become World Champions.

Captain: Antoine Dupont

Player to Watch:  Louis Bielle-Biarrey – Originally, he should have been playing with the U20 team but was instead picked as part of the senior World Cup team. The youngest team member ever called up for the French side at a RWC, he has already shown style – including a stunning try against Scotland in August. Also keep an eye on his (also young) teammate Emilien Gailleton.

To find out more about French Rugby –

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Les Bleus

Food: Traditional gastronomic French Cuisine is revered the world over – but they do have great simpler regional food as well, which might better suit match day food! The classic would be Crepes or Galettes, which are super simple to make at home (especially if you like gadgets and treat yourself to a crepe maker!). Torchon Ham and Gruyere Cheese is a classic but suggest you also have a mega size pot of Nutella on hand (not together!)

One food that leaps to mind when you think of traditional France – garlic! For simple yet delicious match day food – just make up garlic bread at home (baguettes and lashing of garlic butter – it does not get much simpler, but the key is lashings of butter)! Always unwrap the silve foil around the baguette for the last 4 or 5 mins of cooking to allow it to crisp up. But to rack it up a little, try making it with roasted garlic rather than raw.  

Take a whole garlic bulb, rub off papery bits, cut top off so you can see cloves, place on silver foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap up and bake at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes – happily take longer if not soft enough.  Then squeeze out the individual cloves and mix with the butter. 

Try making a tempting onion, olive and anchovy tart from the south of France – pissaladiè 

Unless you are lucky enough to live in the South Downs, then head to  for their irresistible version!

France is obviously famous for cheese and a cheeseboard is always a match day winner:

Brie de Meaux is widely available, and irresistible when at point of perfect ripeness, but do look out for the Paxton & Whitfield version that is hand layered with black truffles. 

Comté is a classic from the Jura region. Raw milk from only grass & hay fed cattle. All Comté is delicious but if you can lay your hands on some 24-month aged, the nuttiness and texture is superb. 

Epoisses – From the region of Burgundy, the cheese is washed with Marc de Bourgogne. Savoury and very pungent.

St Marcellin – Small individual forms, citrus & fresh when young, but worth keeping a short while till it becomes slightly oozy. 

Morbier – Semi hard with a layer of ash running through the centre. 

Roquefort – There are other French blue cheeses, but the king of French blue cheese must be Roquefort. Sweet yet salty, strong yet creamy – unmistakable!

Visit or for great French selections. 


Beer:  Majority of beer drunk in France is made by one of the major brewers – and Kronenbourg is the leading brand.  But there are other beers to look out for such as Saint Omer Blonde and Bellerose Blanche. Bellerose from (yes, they stock French as well as Belgium!)

Ideal for a party – a keg of Pelforth Blonde made in Lille (which is hosting five of the RWC matches) – – They also sell the slightly quirky French Desperados, beer flavoured with Tequila. 

Wine: Despite the explosion of Wine Production in almost every country, France is still seen by many as the Mother Country of Wine.  Just a few suggestions for your match day tipple to cheer on Les Bleus.

How could I not include a wine from one of France’s iconic Rugby Players, Gerard Bertrand. His reds from Southern French varieties Carignan, Grenache noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, are ideal with a BBQ, but he also makes a charming Rosé – Gerard Betrand Cote des Roses – available £10.99 from  Appealing soft red fruits with burst of acidity with refreshing finish – also available in magnums – perfect for parties!

Château Thieuley Blanc from Bordeaux, one of my favourite go-to white wines and great value. Unlike so many other white Bordeaux, who have opted to slavishly follow the monovarietal Sauvignon Blanc route, this family run estate still blends Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, which gives more complexity. Bone dry but with good, rounded mouthfeel. Great food wine – or hammock wine come to that! £10.95 from

Proving that red Bordeaux does not have to cost the earth, an attractive Merlot dominant wine from one of the satellite St Emilion appellations on the Right Bank. Le Vieux Chateaux Guibeau from a lovely family run property in Puisseguin St Emilion. Full of ripe plums, mulberries & spice in the glass, superb with steak! £17.99 from

From the Southern Rhone valley, Le Pavillon du Chateau Beauchene, Cotes du Rhone is a great all rounder red for the rugby. Made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, its bursting with energy, lots of fresh & dried berry fruit with underlying note of pepper & garigue herbs.  £12.95 from From the same stable, if you’d like to splash out a bit more, their Chateauneuf du Pape Vignobles de la Serrière is delightful, from old vines (50 – 100 years old!), with more complexity, after the notes of violet, black fruits comes a savoury balsamic note. £30 from the same wine merchant. 

For the inevitable post-match review – why not kick back with a small glass of Sauternes? Perfect foil to Roquefort cheese– and Lions de Suduiraut Sauternes is wonderfully indulgent, whilst being slightly more modern and slightly lighter in style. Great winemaking as the sweetness level has been perfectly balanced with acidity so it’s not cloying at all. Delicious notes of toast & marmalade. Available in half bottles (£17) or 75cl size (£32) from



With a current world ranking of eighth place, Australia have Wales, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal in their pool.  Past World cup winners in 1991 and 1999, but they would prefer to forget the 2023 defeat by England – with THAT last minute Jonny Wilkson drop goal. Their Head Coach, (who moved from coaching England to Oz earlier this year) Eddie Jones will be looking forward to meeting England after the first pool stages. Having caused some surprise by not selecting the Australian long-term captain, Michael Hooper in his final team choice, Jones has chosen a young, relatively inexperienced side – let’s see if the strategy works!

With such a young team, average only 20 caps per player, there should be some interesting players to watch – but they will need the experience of James Slipper and Taniela Tupou to keep them calm. But think there will be some great fast paced rugby from the boys from Down Under.

Captain: Tate McDermott

Player to Watch: Currently just 18 years old (he turns 19 just before the tournament begins), Max Jorgensen will definitely attract attention on field. 

For more information on Australian Rugby –

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching the Wallabies

Food: Throw another Prawn on the Barbie and all that! Aussies do brilliant BBQ’s and have some great beef as well as all the wonderful sea food.  So, a BBQ on match day would give it an Aussie buzz – maybe some beer marinated chicken wings or even some kangaroo steaks alongside the snags (sausages) and if you are doing burgers, remember to top them with a slice of beetroot!   For some kangaroo sausages or crocodile meat –

But as the great British weather cannot be relied upon, then other match day food could include Vegemite in any way! Try making some Dampner bread (with cheese and chives for more flavour) – toasting and slathering with vegemite – simple but great comfort food!   Just don’t tell a Wallabies fan that marmite is the same as vegemite unless you want to cause more arguments than David Campese! The Macadamia nuts will be flying before you know it!

Another great match day food that would be typically Australian would be Fish & Chips – follow this link and find an outstanding independent Chippy near you  –

Australian cuisine is so varied thanks to their immigrants and proximity to Asia – and some amazing world class restaurants especially in Melbourne – so don’t think the above is it for Australian food, it has an amazing food culture but sometimes for the match – comfort food it is! But to see how exciting it can be – have a peak at one of the most mouth -watering Foodie magazine that exists –

To get hold of typical Aussie snacks try this online store, for such classics as Twisties (cheesy snacks) and the classic Aussie chocolate biscuit Tim Tam –  which apparently you can bite the ends off and then drink your tea through the biscuit – sounds messy but for instructions see the way that Natalie Imbruglia does it on You Tube!


Beer: All the Australian wine makers I know seem to drink Coopers, from the eponymous family run brewery – available from

So, I thought I’d ask an Aussie sports mad friend of mine what else you should be enjoying whilst watching the rugby. The answer was detailed….. “ James Squire, Little Creatures, Boags and Cascade are all good brands. The former two in particular are more known for their pale and golden ales than lager (much like Coopers, which of course you can’t go wrong with); the latter two more for lagers. Matilda Bay for stouts and steam beers, and Redback for wheat beer.  Oh, for the best of the trad Aussie lagers, Crown Lager; and if you want to get really down to basics, VB (Victoria Bitter).” Thanks mate!

Wine: Australia has such a variety of climates that all styles of wine can, and are, produced within her borders.  The Barossa valley with its Germanic Prussian influences is home to big powerful Shiraz but also blended together with Grenache and Mouvedre to give the now classic GSM blend. From the beautiful Clare Valley to the terra rossa (red soils) of Coonawarra for Cabernet Sauvignon packed with mint and blackcurrants. From the oldest of all the Aussie wine regions, the Hunter Valley with its’ delightful Semillons to the Yarra near Victoria with its cool climate. Not forgetting the beguiling Tasmania, a foodie heaven and home to sparkling wines Chardy & Pinot as well as the lovely Mornington Peninsular in Victoria. A variety to suit all palates!

Janz Premium Cuvee NV. Seen by many winemakers as the ideal place to make world class Sparkling Wines, Tasmania really proves the point with this traditional bottle fermented fizz. Deliciously fresh but with nice number of toasty notes and marmalade. Falls into the “dangerously drinkable” category for its approachability! Currently on offer at £14.49 – it outperforms lots of the more famous commercial names from across the Channel.  Available at

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling – From the Clare Valley, this is a cracker of wine – and really delivers beyond its price tag. As well as classic varietal notes, lots of lime, pink grapefruit and zesty acidity. Is brilliant with grilled prawns. £10.99 on the six-mix deal. Available

Assyrtiko Jim Barry – Staying in the Clare Valley, at Jim Barry Wines, for another left field variety – Assyrtiko – more usually found in Greece.  Great minerality, pure refreshing flavours including an appealing underlying salinity – ideal with some salted macadamia nuts!  Currently on offer £24.75 – Available –

 Tempranillo Touriga S C Pannell – A great example of the variety of grape varieties in Australia – a blend of Rioja’s most famous variety, Tempranillo with the Douro Valley in Portugal the more usual home to Touriga Nacional. Lots of smooth chocolate and spices – this is perfect with BBQ steak! £19.50 Available from

Shaw & Smith Shiraz – From the Adelaide Hills, this elegant example of a cool climate Syrah from one of Oz’s best producers is outstanding. Bursting with dark & black fruit (mulberry if we’re being fancy!), as well as smooth cocoa notes, fine tannins, good depth of complexity with balanced acidity. Worth the price tag.  £29.95 – Available from

Plus, one to perhaps save for when Australia gets through to the next round. Moorooduc Robinson Estate Pinot Noir from the fabulous Mornington Peninsular – heavenly luscious Pinot that goes so well with proper roasted Chicken or Baked Salmon. £35 available

Websites for Wine Estates above:

For more information on Australian Wine – visit –



After losing to South Africa in the last World Cup Final held in Japan in 2019, England will be hoping to go one better in France this time. However, even as an England supporter, would not like to take a bet on that, based on their current performance. The “friendly” against Wales in Cardiff at the start of August was a diabolical performance by England – a total lack of cohesion as a team. And it got no better in the following two matches, with lack of discipline.  Head Coach Steve Borthwick has spoken of trying to simplify things – and together with Captain Owen Farrell, have been focusing players to “want the ball”.

The final team selection for this World Cup caused more than a few raised eyebrows and many mutterings into pints at pubs across the country. Do hope that I am proved wrong when the team takes to the pitch against Argentina in their first match in Marseilles – but for now, on the pitch in comparison on the team sheet,  it looks like a team devoid of imagination or even inspiration. The omission of Henry Slade is bizarre, but Borthwick does not seem to have to have chosen a team that could play with verve and flair – why not be a bit more visionary with players such as Tom Pearson, Zach Mercer or Sam Simmonds? However, fingers crossed for England, that this rugby fan is proven wrong and there exists more of a plan than Borthwick, (who is a good coach with a proven history at club level as well as a player), is sharing on the pitch right now in the lead up.

England are in Pool D – and that’s good news for them with matches in the knockout rounds of Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile. But no time for complacency (especially after THAT recent match against Fiji) – the Blossoms are indefatigable in their efforts, Los Pumas always play with an exciting free running style, Manu Samoa are back after missing out on the last three world cups and hungry for a win, with three ex All Blacks in their side , whilst Chile, although perhaps the wild card in the pack as an emerging Rugby Nation in their first World Cup, have the super experienced Pablo Lemoine as Head Coach.

Captain: Owen Farrell (well at time of posting this article but who knows!)

Player to Watch: Henry Arundell will provide a dash of magic amongst the kicking game!

For more information on England Rugby –

For full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching England

Food:  As food to watch the match with should be simple to hold and good to eat, there is one Classic for this Rugby World Cup – so despite the lack of Exeter players in the squad, nothing better than Cornish pasties!  There are all sorts of variations kicking around but the traditional cannot be beaten. They are relatively easy to make at home, but otherwise just get Ann to send you some of her fabulous pasties ready for you to cook at home!

Or why not take inspiration from a traditional English Roast as nibbles for match day? Roast potatoes always taste best when sneaked from the dish in the kitchen after lunch, so why not do a huge bowl – and let people dig in – suggest you get some smoked salt to sprinkle on top

Make (or buy – see Auntie Bessie in freezer section!) mini Yorkshire puddings – chop up some thickly sliced roast beef- pour in small amount of gravy into Yorkie,  top with beef square and horseradish – perfect finger food!

Or a great all English Cheeseboard (to show Les Bleus that England has a better variety of cheese!).  There are so many amazing independent cheesemakers in England that you can put together a board with soft, hard, flavoured, blue, goats – everything. If you are lucky enough to be near one of their stores then head to the brilliant – otherwise look on line at

Top cheeses to look out for are: Stichelton (unpasteurised version of stilton), Kirkham Lancashire (wonderfully crumbly) , Shropshire Blue (for a burst of colour & taste),  Tunworth (camembert like from Hampshire), Wyfe of Bath (Gouda like from guess where!), Cornish Yarg (wrapped in nettles)  and  of course the pungent Stinking Bishop (read the story of this iconic cheese at

English Charcuterie is getting some well-deserved recognition from food writers, chefs and even Italian journalists! A sharing platter of cured meats such as the award wining chestnut smoked Coppa from , from Dorset the brilliant for their New Forest Pannage Ham or Dorset Bresaola from

For a fishier option, try the delicious smoked haddock from  – it is delicious flaked into cheese sauce as a piscine cheese on toast! (actually do check out all of their smoked products including smoked Goodweald cheese) 


Beer:  There are so many UK real ales, that most Rugby lovers are better equipped than I to choose their own beer for this section – but a few to try out:

Loose Cannon Brewery –    

Adnams Brewery –   

Palmers Brewery (established 1794!)  

Coniston Brewing Company –

For a good selection to order online –

Cider: Of course we produce some of the best West Country cider – which is great to pair with the Pasties – look out for the single varietals (and even Rose version) from The Newt in Somerset –

Wine:  The English Wine scene is thriving – and it’s not just all Sparkling! There is a great array of still whites such as Pinot Blanc and some surprisingly delicious Pinot Noirs in the red camp. Close to where I live in the South Downs, we seem to be surrounded by an increasing tide of new vineyard plantings – even the French Champagne makers are looking at buying more land this side of the channel – following in steps of Pommery and Taittinger who already have vineyards in Kent & Hampshire. 

From vineyards close to Marlow, Harrow & Hope produce outstanding fine sparkling wines – for an aperitif start off with their enticing Brut Reserve but also pick up a couple of bottles of their seductive Blanc de Blancs as well –

For something a little different on the fizz front, do chill a bottle of the Ambriel English Reserve. It’s a Demi Sec, but you don’t feel sweetness just complexity of flavour – and its heavenly with blue cheese!

Madeleine Angevine is a lesser known but charming white variety – when it’s made as well as at Danebury in Hampshire with lovely floral and citrus notes

Stopham Vineyards in Sussex make very food friendly still white wines – including their enticing Pinot Banc and more aromatic Pinot Gris (the latter ideal if you’re having a match day Thai curry!)

Chapel Down, a leading Kent producer make a range from good value crowd pleasing Bacchus to their Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Kit’s Coty.

For the Rosé lovers – search out Railway Hill Rosé from Simpsons, on the North Downs. Evocative scent of English summers (when the sun shines!), it’s delightful – and comes in a covetable reusable bottle (Advice – always put 2nd bottle in fridge when you open the 1st!).

Essex is perhaps not the county that springs to mind when thinking about vineyards, but it is the source of some of the most impressive grapes in England – especially Pinot Noir as seen in the brilliant example from Not the cheapest option at just over £30, but worth it – and especially if England make it through to the final!

Lyme Bay Winery produce a fabulous award-winning Pinot Noir – lots of dark fruit, but lots of zingy fresh acidity that makes it such a great match with the charcuterie boards.

For all English wines mentioned above, do call direct for local stockists or else they will happily send direct from the vineyard. Alternatively if you’re looking for some advice on a mixed case – call Matt at or Simon at – both of whom specialise in English Wines. 

If you need something stronger to sip whilst dissecting the match afterwards, questioning the ref’s decisions and all that – then do get in a bottle of Somerset Brandy – the Pomona (blend of apple juice & cider brandy aged in barrel)  is especially smooth –

National Drink:  The coffee invasion has been retreating over the last year or so and some wonderful Tea Houses with loose leaf tea have been springing up to reaffirm that our national drink is indeed still tea.  So, for something different for the designated driver on match day – get hold of some English Tea grown in Cornwall

PS – if you’d like to read more about English Wine – paired with a host of independent artisan products such as irresistible cheeses and pork pies – as well as matching recipes – pick up a copy of my book Watercress, Willow, and Wine. Shortlisted for the 2023 Fortnum & Mason’s Book Awards – available from all good bookshops, on and online. ISBN : 9781913532864 

 For more information on English Wine – visit Wine GB –



Scotland come into the Rugby World Cup with a challenging pool selection. Their opening match against South Africa in Nice will be a robust, physical match thanks to the Springboks. Followed by pool matches against Tonga and Romania (neither of which can be discounted due to sheer tenacity and solid play) and then facing the World Number One ranked team, Ireland in their final Pool Match.

But Head Coach Gregor Townsend has been quietly building this Scottish team over the last few seasons, and despite some depressing stats (being beaten by Ireland in last eight matches), they will quite rightly take heart at two key result this year. Beating England in the Calcutta Cup was a real high point (rivalry between Scotland England in the Six Nations – surely not?!) – but possible more so was the exciting match and 25—21 win against France in August ’23. 

Watching Scotland of late has been accompanied by a feeling of nervous hopefulness – the team are playing with cohesion and ability to exploit opponents’ errors. They will need it vs the Springboks in that opening match but if create ways into the Springboks ’22 and they may surprise. 

Scotland can also take heart also from some of the backroom stats. South Africa missed 39 tackles against the All Blacks their last match (which OK the boys in gold & green won!) but if Scotland can focus and grab even a fraction of those chances, get the ball out to Finn Rusell and Ben White, there may be a glimmer of light at the try-line! 

Let’s hope Flower of Scotland does bloom once more.

Captain: Jamie Ritchie

Players to Watch:  As a Bath Rugby Supporter, it must be our new signing, Finn Russell. Sheer explosive talent – at his best, unstoppable. 

For more information on Scottish Rugby – www.scottishrugby.orgFor full details follow:

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Scotland

Food: Scotland has an amazing natural larder – glorious beef & venison as well as delicious Sea food. It is sad that for too many years, that this bounty was not transferred to local cooking but wending its way down to London & European markets. But glorious though the Langoustines from the cold waters of the West Coast of Scotland are, it is for Rugby Food that we need to think.

But there is one foodstuff that says Scotland more than any other – Haggis. Now PLEASE don’t skip this paragraph, because you will be amazed once you have discovered the right producer. Family Run Macsween Haggis have won multiple awards – and there are all different types – there is even a vegetarian version – truly delicious! The clue is not thinking of it as a slab of haggis (as all too often experienced at a dodgy Burns Supper in the South of England) – but break it up and get inventive. I’ve stuffed Indian Pakoras, made Scotch eggs coated in Haggis – and all with rave reviews. Think where you can use mince or sausage meat – haggis can take its place with pride. So, pay the lovely people a visit at – they have even given you lots of recipes to inspire you – I think Wee Beasties of the Glen would be perfect Match Day food.

Scotland is famous for its Smoked Salmon, one of the easiest of match day nibbles to prepare! It’s worth seeking out a small producer such as East Neuk Kilnhouse. Family owned and smoked in the traditional way, continually winning awards for their flavoursome range (a world away from more commercial offerings). Check out their hot smoked trout & kippers as well as the salmon!

Another staple of all sporting events north of the border is a Scotch Pie. Made from friable pastry (hopefully) and stuffed with mutton (traditionally) these are not for the faint hearted but good filling affairs!

Scotland produces an excellent range of cheeses, so why not a cheese board to pair with your beer or whisky during the match. For a one stop shop, (online UK delivery or their shop in Edinburgh) , do visit the excellent Cheesemonger I J Mellis. As well as a great Scottish selection – see below – you could also choose cheese for other matches from their listings of English, French and Italian cheese as well) –

Anster – An unpasteurised cows milk cheese from Fife, made by Jane Stewart. Fresh, slightly citrus notes and delightfully crumbly. (Apparently the cows sleep in traditional Scottish style on oat husks, from the nearby Quaker oats factory!)

Auld Reekie – Named after the nickname for Edinburgh, this unpasteurised cows milk come from the Cairngorms and is smoked over old whisky barrels.

Caboc – Rich, indulgent double cream cheese, said to be Scotland’s oldest cheese. The texture is similar to mascarpone but is rolled into small log shapes and covered in oatmeal.

Connage Gouda – Made in Ardersier in Scotland, from cows grazed on clover rich pasture. A semi hard cheese, which starts off sweet and mild when young, changing into nutty notes as it ages. 

Hebridean Blue. Made on the Isle of Mull by the Reade family, this is an intense blue cheese, full on flavour and salty notes. A one for real blue cheese lovers (I also like it mashed with butter to tone its pungency and eat with oatcakes & celery) 

Wee Comrie – A small individual cheese, made in Perthshire sweet in flavour and creamy buttery in taste. Very moreish. 

For more information about other great Scottish Foods such as Stornoway Black Pudding


Beer: There is no shortage of interesting and Craft Beers being made in Scotland. Look out for the superbly named Bitter & Twisted from – 

Or for individual beers aged in Oak, try or their sister brewery Inveralmond

Worth searching out from  is Fraoch and Alba both aged in Whisky casks. not to mention their Seaweed ale in their pack of Historic Ales of Scotland. 

Making beer from organic malt in the Highlands is or the IPA Not the Foggiest  made from Mosaic, Amarillo and Citra  hops, from

If anywhere near Edinburgh (or for online orders) check out the good selection of beers available at – with very helpful staff!

Wine:  Not renowned for grape production, the few vineyards that exist, is more a case of planting vines and waiting to get some benefit from climate change some years ahead. However, there is a research vineyard looking to the future in Aberdeenshire –

But looking to for a Scottish slant on your match day wine? Seek out wines made El Escoces Volante – otherwise known in English as The Flying Scotsman, Norrel Robertson MW ( He makes wine across several regions in Spain, including some in Calatayud and high-altitude vines in Aragon. Several wines including his Garnacha, are available through

National Drink: Usige Beatha – Water of Life – otherwise known as Whisky. 

There is a wide spectrum of flavours in Single Malts, and it all comes down to what style of Whisky you prefer.  Personally I adore the smoky, peatiness of Lagavulin from the south of Islay but if you’d prefer something slightly tinged with smoke but lighter in style, then look for Bunnahabhain on the northern side of the island.

For something much lighter with a touch of sweetness then do look towards Speyside, although it is hard to generalise as this is where most distilleries are based with such as classic names such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet (which was the first licenced distillery in 1824). But within Speyside, you can also find the richer more intense styles such as Macallan.  Within all of this are the special malts, sometimes aged in old Sherry or Madeira casks adding sweetness to the final Whisky.

As for the on-going discussion – water or not – there is no “right” answer but depends again on your own taste buds. I like a splash (literally about a teaspoon) of spring water (must be Highland Spring!)  to release the aromas of the malt.  But for me never with ice, it freezes and masks the flavours.

A fine range of Single Malts are widely available in the UK – But for something a little different do have a look at the websites below who list an intriguing array of special malts.



Romania are in Pool B alongside New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Tonga. So, a tough draw but this is a team with grit & determination. 

Rugby has been played in Romania competitively since the 1920’s – indeed at the time France joined forces with them to try to set up an alternative tournament to the UK dominated Five Nations. 

Known as the Oaks, thanks to their solid, robust packs, many players left for Italy & France but since 2001, they have been building up a strong national team. Since then, they are four times winners of the Rugby Europe Championship and three-time winners of WR Nations Cup. Qualifying for every World Cup, they will be looking to put the 2019 debacle behind them, when they were expelled for inclusion of an ineligible player. 

Their Head Coach Eugen Apjok will have a keen eye on Tonga – ranked 15th against Romania’s 19th – on their head-to-head on 8th October as the best option for winning in this pool. 

Captain: Christian-Marian Chirica

Player to Watch: Gheorge Gajion, known as “The Beast from the East” with good reason! But also keep an eye on Alexandru Savin as prop. 

For more information on Romanian Rugby:

For full details follow :

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching the Oaks

Food:  Romania is a melting pot combining dishes from the Austro Hungarian Empire, spices from Turkey and also the influence of the Black Sea with fish and seafood. But still regional food differences remain still today such as in the region of Transylvania (yes it really exists and has its own version of Goulash!).  Thanks to the country’s history, today the food is largely naturally organic, free range and unfussy.  

Pork is the main meat of most regions in Romania, and turns up in a variety of guises. Especially delicious smoked bacon (check out that sounds like an ideal ingredient for match day food – Bacon Doorstops anyone? 

Mici are a type of small sausage, usually beef and pork flavoured with garlic & hot paprika. I am not sure that Sarmole will gain many followers for match food (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat & rice), but Cartofi Copti sound perfect – basically roasted potatoes, cut repeatedly before cooking (like hasselback potatoes) and each slit filled with bacon and butter – sounds heavenly match day comfort food. 

Also, Chiftele – or Romanian meatballs (recipes online) – the key is LOTS of fresh herbs, dill is popular and I like tarragon for extra flavour. Easy to make ahead of kick off and serve with dipping sauce. 


Beer: One of the main brands of Romanian beer is Ursus who also make a Black stout like version. Look out also for Ciuc and Timisoreana. Available online at specialist beer suppliers such as

Wine:  Romania has a long history of winemaking and today is the source of some delightful, good value wines. There has been a lot of investment from foreign wine regions, ranging from Bordeaux to Italy and even from the UK. Many of the classic international grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot dominate, but Romania is also seeing a revival of its own indigenous grape varieties.   Feteasca Neagra is flying the flag for Romanian Reds and has been likened by some wine journalists trying to “place” it in the flavour spectrum as similar in style and body to Sangiovese (the main grape variety of Chianti).  Its equivalents in the white corner are Feteasca  Alba and Feteasca Regala – two whites with an attractive aromatic nose – and the latter can be quite complex.

 Made by the charming Baron Jacob Kripp in Transylvania, the Price Stirbey Tamaioasa Romannesca Sec is a delightful aromatic white wine with more than a hint of Muscat about it. Off dry with lovely apricot hints. Under £12

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing Rosé (with relevant price tag – just £6.50), then check out the Babele label– especially the Rose. Made by Cramele Recas, owned by an Englishman and his Romanian wife. Zingy notes of raspberries, its brilliant with the meatballs above.  From

Another one from the same stable of Cramele Recas, but this time a red wine – Incanta Pinot Noir. It punches well above its £7.99 price tag from Don’t expect the complexity of burgundy but its delicious, bright cherry fruit is perfect with aged cheeses or bacon sarnies! 

National Drink: There is a local spirit called Tuica or Painca dependent on which fruit it is made from and how it is fermented.  Perhaps best stick to the wine! There is a wide range of them on

Random little-known fact – King Charles (when he was Prince) set up a Foundation in Romania to help support their rural communities.