MALVASIA AND WHITE WINES

The introduction of wine making to Britain is generally attributed to the Romans. However, due to a host of contributory factors the cultivation of vines and production of wine declinedintensely right up until the twentieth century. Come the fourteenth century, wine was twelve times the price of ale as it had to be imported from far off lands.

At this time the sweet 'Malmsey' of the Canary Islands was considered amongst the most treasured and luxurious wines in the world. During the early 15th Century, trade relations were established between Britain and the Canaries which led to a boom in sales, hence the numerous references made by Shakespeare who even had part of his annual salary paid in Canarian wine! However, it is of interest to note that this was not solely a British phenomenon, as fine Canary wines held prized status in the cellars of wealthy merchants, nobles and kings across the continent.

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ROSE AND SWEET WINES

In Agatha Christies' novel 'Affair at the Victory Ball' Monsieur Poirot drank banana liquor instead of his habitual mint. Why the change one might ask?

The answer might lie in Agatha Christies numerous visits to the Canary Islands, during which she would often imbibe the aformentioned liquor, or a glass of sweet wine made from the listan grape. It is said that she was also rather partial to a glass of Rosé.

Christies 'affair' with the islands was to last more than fourty years with numerous references to the islands' dramatic landscapes in titles such as Thirteen Problems', 'The Mysterious Mr. Quin', The Man From The Sea' and The Companion'.

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RED WINES

Sir Winston Churchill visited the Canary Islands on a number of occasions during his life, usually aboard the yacht of his friend Aristotle Onassis. Whenever they could spare the time they would cruise between the islands, exploring the hugely varied terrain.

Sir Winston was a prominent advocate and connoisseur of Canarian wines, and reportedly loved the red wines of the islands in particular. Esoteric gems such as Listán Negro, Negramoll, and Baboso Negro were among his favourites.

Both Churchill and Onassis enjoyed many an exploratory aftemoon sampling new wines as well as the islands' hand made cigars!

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