Ethical wine is indirectly bringing joy to young people’s lives in NI
James Nicolson is a wine merchant, based in the County Down town of Crossgar.
Since 1977, JN Wines have been sourcing wines from across the globe.
They have a beautiful shop in the village and also supply wine to many of the top restaurants in Ireland. The company have recently sourced a rose wine from the Provence region of France. It’s an organic wine produced at the Chateau Vignelaure vineyard. The wine is called Ode to Joy and the label is beautifully illustrated by Irish artist Kathryn Callaghan.
What sets this wine apart is that all profits from sales go to the Youth Action NI’s Rainbow Lights project. This new charity initiative is specifically designed to nurture creativity, confidence and joy to young people living with mental and physical disabilities. They will provided inclusive, accessible and high quality theatre based training for any young person regardless of ability or experience. Ode to Joy is a celebration of hope and better times ahead.
With foreign travel a faint possibility this year, you could console yourself with a bottle of this wine and imagine yourself sipping it on the French Riviera. It has a delicate salmon pink appearance and flavours of redcurrant, peach and raspberry. To complete this fantasy Gallic picture, you could cook up some Southern French food to accompany the ice cold wine. Salade Nicoise is a classic dish from Nice. It’s a tuna based salad with olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce. In the recipe I’ve included a sauce verte, literally meaning green sauce where courgettes, basil and parsley are cooked quickly in boiling water, refreshed and blended to a smooth puree with oil and vinegar. This gives the dish a fresh, zingy base. Local tomatoes should be appearing now and will work beautifully with the herbs. Shine’s is a Donegal based processor of Irish tuna. You can source their jars and tins of tuna in good delis and it really is a world apart from regular supermarket varieties.
Socca is a chickpea based pancake that is a popular street food in Nice. Chickpea flour is now widely available and forms the base of this snack with oil, water and rosemary. It’s made into thin pancakes and you can serve with pesto, olives, hummus and vinaigrette.
Pour yourself and glass of Ode to Joy, close your eyes and savour the flavours of a hot summers day on the French Riviera (you might want to put the heat on to get the full effect). If you’ve room for pudding there’s a recipe for a raspberry clafoutis – like a baked pancake, topped with an almond crumble. Serve straight from the oven with ice-cream.
Great food and an ethical wine that’s indirectly bringing joy to young people in need’s lives – what’s not to love?