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There’s something inherently luxurious about sipping on a glass of fine wine. Whether you’re unwinding after a long day at work or celebrating a special occasion, wine has a way of elevating the moment. But what if I told you there’s a new trend in town that’s revolutionizing the way we experience wine? Enter the world of the self serve wine dispenser.

What Exactly Are Self-Serve Wine Dispensers?

Imagine walking into a sleek, modern wine bar where rows of gleaming wine dispensers line the walls. These innovative machines allow you to sample and pour your own wine with just the touch of a button. Gone are the days of waiting for a bartender to pour your next glass or feeling pressured to commit to a full bottle. With self-serve wine dispensers, you’re in control of your tasting experience.

How Do They Work?

Self-serve wine dispensers operate on a simple yet sophisticated system. Each machine is equipped with multiple wine bottles, typically preserved with inert gases to maintain freshness. Customers are provided with a prepaid card or wristband loaded with credits, which they can use to access the dispenser. Once you’ve loaded your card, you can select your desired wine, choose your pour size, and watch as the machine fills your glass with precision.

The Benefits of Self-Serve Wine Dispensers

Variety: One of the greatest perks of self-serve wine dispensers is the ability to sample a wide range of wines without committing to a full bottle. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a curious novice, you can explore different varietals, regions, and vintages at your own pace.

Flexibility: Say goodbye to rigid pour sizes and predetermined tasting flights. With self-serve wine dispensers, you have the flexibility to pour as much or as little as you like. Want just a taste? No problem. Craving a full glass? Go for it. The choice is yours.

Freshness: Traditional wine by-the-glass programs often struggle with maintaining the freshness of opened bottles. Self-serve wine dispensers solve this problem by preserving each bottle with inert gases, such as argon or nitrogen, which create a barrier between the wine and oxygen. This ensures that every pour is as fresh and flavorful as the first.

Empowerment: There’s a sense of empowerment that comes with being able to pour your own wine. You’re no longer reliant on a bartender or server to dictate your tasting experience. Instead, you have the freedom to explore, experiment, and discover new favorites on your own terms.

Where Can You Find Self-Serve Wine Dispensers?

While self-serve wine dispensers are still relatively new to the scene, they’re quickly gaining popularity in wine bars, restaurants, and tasting rooms around the world. In urban hubs like New York City and San Francisco, you’ll find trendy wine bars boasting impressive selections of self-serve options. Likewise, wine-centric destinations like Napa Valley and Bordeaux are embracing this innovative technology as a way to enhance the tasting experience for visitors.

Tips for Navigating the Self-Serve Wine Dispenser Experience

  1. Start with a Clean Palate: Before diving into your tasting adventure, be sure to cleanse your palate with a sip of water. This will help reset your taste buds and ensure that you can fully appreciate each wine you sample.
  2. Pace Yourself: With so many tempting options at your fingertips, it can be easy to overindulge. Pace yourself and savor each pour, taking the time to appreciate the unique characteristics of each wine.
  3. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Self-serve wine dispensers offer the perfect opportunity to explore different grape varietals, regions, and winemaking styles.
  4. Ask for Recommendations: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the selection, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from the staff. They’re there to help guide you through the tasting process and can offer valuable insights based on your preferences.
  5. Take Notes: Keep track of your favorite wines by taking notes on their flavor profiles, aromas, and any other distinguishing characteristics. This will help you remember what you enjoyed and inform future purchasing decisions.

The Social Aspect: Bringing People Together

One of the most delightful aspects of enjoying wine is the social element it brings to gatherings. Self-serve wine dispensers amplify this experience by encouraging interaction and conversation among patrons. Picture a group of friends gathered around a dispenser, each exploring different wines and sharing their thoughts and preferences. It’s a fantastic way to bond over a shared love of wine and discover new favorites together. Whether you’re catching up with old friends or making new ones, self-serve wine dispensers provide the perfect backdrop for memorable moments and meaningful connections.

Environmental Impact: Reducing Waste, One Pour at a Time

In addition to offering convenience and variety, self-serve wine dispensers also contribute to sustainability efforts within the wine industry. By eliminating the need for single-serve bottles or by-the-glass pours, these systems help reduce waste and minimize the environmental footprint associated with traditional wine service. Furthermore, the use of inert gases to preserve opened bottles helps extend the shelf life of wine, reducing the likelihood of spoilage and further minimizing waste. For eco-conscious wine enthusiasts, self-serve wine dispensers offer a guilt-free way to indulge in their favorite beverage while doing their part to protect the planet.

The Evolution of Wine Culture: Embracing Innovation

Self-serve wine dispensers are more than just a novelty – they’re a reflection of the evolving wine culture and consumer preferences. As technology continues to advance, consumers are seeking out new and innovative ways to engage with wine, whether through online tastings, virtual vineyard tours, or interactive tasting experiences. Self-serve wine dispensers embody this spirit of innovation by offering a modern, user-friendly approach to wine tasting that appeals to a wide range of consumers. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or a seasoned oenophile, these dispensers provide a fresh and exciting way to explore the world of wine and deepen your appreciation for this timeless beverage.

The Future of Wine Tasting

As technology continues to evolve, so too will the world of wine tasting. Self-serve wine dispensers represent just one example of how innovation is shaping the way we experience and appreciate wine. Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado or a curious newcomer, these modern marvels offer a fun, interactive, and accessible way to indulge in the finer things in life. So why wait? Grab a glass, press that button, and embark on your own wine tasting adventure today. Cheers!


Feature in association with Fulmer Honey

There is a bit in a Winnie-the-Pooh story that I’ve always loved. It’s in the story called ‘In which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place’, where Pooh goes to visit Rabbit, somewhat against Rabbit’s better judgment.

‘Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o’clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, “Honey or condensed milk with your bread?” he was so excited that he said, “Both,” and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, “But don’t worry about the bread.”

Pooh does then get stuck in Rabbit’s front door trying to leave, and they have to leave him there in the hole until he ‘gets thin again’, but generally I admire this approach to life and his love of honey. Honey is not only delicious, but it has all kinds of natural health benefits. Pooh was ahead of his time.

Winne-the-Pooh honey

It was the first thing I thought about when I was introduced to Fulmer. The Fulmer honey story is a lovely one. Their maternal great-grandfather, Gyorgy Fulmer, founded his apiary in 1929 with just a few bee families and some years later, their grandfather, Ferenc Takács, also started making honey. In 1959, Ferenc married Gyorgy’s daughter Maria, and one big happy bee family was created.

With nearly 100 years of beekeeping experience, the fourth generation of Fulmers is now at the helm and Fulmer now not only make their own honey but also source honey from specially chosen beekeepers around the world, selling it to 30 countries.

Quality and sustainability are the key drivers behind the Fulmer ethos, along with huge respect for bees. The bees go about their business, collecting nectar and adding their own special ingredients and flower aromas, and the result is a range of quality honey including chestnut honey, holly cream honey, maple cream honey and so much more.

As much as I love honey just with condensed milk and bread (bread optional) I wanted to do these special honeys justice. I decided to create a couple of honey cocktails.

Fig and honey martini

When I was thinking up flavour combinations, things that honey go especially well with, figs were top of my list. That and goat’s cheese, but that didn’t feel like it would be awesome in a cocktail. (Although remember when I made black olive, honey and feta ice cream?) Fig and honey though? Yum.

For my fig and honey martini, I used the James Bond of the Fulmer honey range – the Siaagn-Torecila Honey from their Limited Selection range. These honeys are unique and rare. They are dependent on very specific environmental and weather conditions and so can hardly ever be produced. This one blends the flavours of the cultivated fields of the French Pyrenees wild Spanish lavender. The result is delicious.

fig and honey martini

To make my martini I kept things simple to let the honey shine. I added a large handful of ice to a cocktail shaker along with two halved, ripe figs, a spoonful of honey and vodka. Shake it hard to mix everything well – let the ice do the work here of mushing the figs and blending the honey.

The result is a very simple, elegant martini that I’m sure Rabbit could have done with after having Winne-the-Pooh’s legs in his burrow for a week.

honey and fig martini

The Fulmer hot toddy with Fulmer honey lollipops

For this one I wanted to take a fun twist on a classic. It’s definitely hot toddy season, and everyone knows that lemon and honey is medicinal, but I didn’t want to make any old boring hot toddy. I wanted to make something that you could bring out at a Christmas party and everyone would go ‘Oooooh!’

I decided to make honey lollipops.

I’ve never made lollipops before and was also slightly held back by the fact that my sugar thermometer had stopped working, but I went for it. Literally all I did was heat some Fulmer forest honey until it was just about at the point where I thought I was going to burn it, and then I poured it into lollipop moulds. There is definitely a specific temperature that gets the honey to the point where it can set hard, so do check this – I think I got lucky.

(Note: Heating the honey takes away some of the health benefits, so while the lollies are fun, make sure you include the forest honey in its natural form in your diet too as it has a lot of minerals and a high iron content.)

honey lollipops

Once the honey lollipops have had time to set hard, it’s time to make your hot toddy. I used spiced rum for mine because as much as I try, I can’t like whiskey. I poured a large shot of rum into a nice chunky glass, added a thick slice of lemon and topped it up with boiling water.

Pop your lollies out of their moulds and hand them out to your festive friends along with the rum hot toddies. Sit back and lap up the praise.

honey lollipop

The honey lollies can then be stirred into the hot toddies – the honey slowly melts into the drink, or you can mix it up with a dunk and lick manoeuvre if you want to get a good dose of honey flavour. Fulmer’s forest honey is a naturally darker honey with a rich aroma, so once it has dissolved into your drink it gives it a lovely warm colour and flavour.

Two very different types of honey for two very different cocktails, but both delicious. I feel like if Winnie-the-Pooh had Fulmer honey with his condensed milk, he’d be a very happy bear indeed.

honey hot toddy


Belle and I have got into the habit of mocking the trend in dupe videos. You know how supermarkets or budget brands bring out versions of more expensive products and call them dupes? Our habit started though because Belle saw a video of someone making a recipe for what they SAID was a dupe, but it was actually just a recipe. I can’t even remember what it was, but it was along the lines of ‘SPONGE CAKE DUPE!’ but then was just an actual sponge cake recipe.

To really get into it, you also have to say ‘dupe’ as DOOP! Loudly and in a high pitched voice. Imagine me picking an apple from a tree and holding it aloft and shouting ‘Tesco bag of apples DOOP!’

You get the picture. We are very funny etc etc.

I recently made my own DOOP, which was very exciting and made me feel like a Millenial. It was a DOOP for an amazing Black Forest pastry I got from Lidl a couple of weeks ago when I was having one of those weeks where you feel like pastries are the answer. Cherry and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations, and the Lidl pastries are excellent, so this was a 10/10 for me.

This is the Lidl version:

Lidl pastires

To make my DOOP I bought a roll of ready made puff pastry, cut it into squares, blobbed on some Bonne Maman cherry jam and folded over the corners. Pop them in the oven at about 200 degrees and pace about a bit while you wait. About five minutes before they were cooked I chucked in a couple of squares of basic dark chocolate, so there was time for it to melt but not long enough for it to burn. You can watch the process in a short Instagram video I made.

And here it is, my Lidl pastry DOOP! Obviously it looks better as I styled the picture to make it look FANCY and didn’t just dump it onto one of my rusty old baking trays, but even so, I was pretty pleased with it.

You are very welcome.

Cherry and chocolate pastry





Deck the halls with boughs of pumpkins, fa-la-la-la-la etc etc!

I am feeling especially seasonal today as I wore an ACTUAL JUMPER walking the dog this morning at about 7.30am and my hands were even a tiny bit cold! Can you imagine? It was lovely. What with that and having my first pumpkin spice latte of the year, it’s all very jolly and cosy and the perfect opportunity for an autumn themed episode of It’s Five O’clock Somewhere. (My podcast. Ooh!)

In every episode of the podcast, my cohost Gill and I drink a cocktail and to annoy Gill, who is convinced there is a Big Cinnamon conspiracy, I decided to make a pumpkin spice martini.

By pumpkin spice martini I don’t just mean slugging a bit of vodka into a Starbucks latte, which I have been known to do for the podcast before, I mean an actual fancy drink in a martini glass and everything. The recipe, if you can call it that, is very simple indeed. It’s half vodka and half this Mozart pumpkin spice cream liqueur. Shake it all up with some ice, pour into a nice glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you have one. To be honest, Belle said my cinnamon stick just looked like an old twig, so I’m not sure it really adds anything.

Take a look and see what you think for yourself.

pumpkin spice martini

It does look quite like a stick.

Ah well.

It tastes EXCELLENT and I can guarantee that it gets you drunk nice and quickly too. I can testify to this because after I made this one for the photo, I saved it to drink before I went out for dinner with friends later that evening. Unfortunately I forgot about it until I was leaving and had to knock it back in one go. I say ‘had to’.. food waste and all that.

It was the responsible thing to do.


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Why would you have boring old plain toast when you could have RAINBOW TOAST?? It’s easy to make as long as you’ve got a few food colourings and it makes for a fabulous activity for either:

  • Kids
  • Middle-aged perimenopausal women with too much time on their hands, who have been parents for so long that they’re not even sure what they like anymore and are concerned that death is imminent and that there’s no time left to start anything new

Can you guess which category I fall into?

It’s about four years ago now that I first wrote about my midlife unravelling. It had been creeping up on me for a long time and it was a while before I mustered the enthusiasm to question it, but when I finally did and started HRT, it did help to put things back together a little bit. I’m not saying I’m full of Zest For Life, but nowadays I can open my laptop without crying and don’t spend large chunks of the day staring out the window, so that’s good. I still cry at films but it’s reassuring to know I wasn’t just having a complete mental breakdown.

What I’ve really noticed though since the unravelling is that I’m much more conscious of DEATH. Sometimes I can be driving the car and I will imagine crashing and dying and I realise that would be FOREVER and it is terrifying. When you die, life STOPS. Isn’t that scary?? When I’m not having these brief but intense existential crises, I swing the opposite way and paint bread in the colours of the rainbow, because honestly why the hell not. We’re all going to die anyway etc etc, might as well paint stuff pretty colours in the meantime eh?

rainbow toast View Post


Following on from Friday’s pumpkin spice latte extravaganza, I thought I’d roll with the vibe and do a spot of autumnal baking. I found some apples near my mum’s house and went rummaging in the bushes for blackberries and set about making some of the cutest apple and blackberry pies you’re going to see all autumn.

Take a look if you don’t believe me:

spiced apple pie recipe


I had a very lovely time indeed fiddling about making leaves and what not, ignoring the fact that we are actually having a heat wave and it was 26 degrees outside. It’s September dammit! I had a pumpkin spice latte! I should be in tights by now.

Anyway, if you want to get into the autumnal vibe with me, here’s what you need:

  • One medium cooking apple (can be found near my mum’s house)
  • A good large handful of blackberries (I collected mine in a dog poop bag. Optional.)
  • A blob of honey
  • A generous sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
  • A beaten egg for brushing

If you’re on Instagram, you can watch a video of me making them here. Otherwise you’ll have to follow my instructions and use your imagination. View Post


I’ve heard that you’re meant to include interesting seasonal content on a blog and it doesn’t get much more seasonal than a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Everyone knows that as soon as the PSL comes out you’re allowed to start wearing tights and humming Jingle Bells under your breath.

September 1st then, and off we went to the Starbucks drive-thru. I used to believe that my role as ‘parent’ would be pretty much done by the time my kids turned 18, but here they are, now 21 and 28, and neither of them can drive, so anything that involves driving through something is still my parental responsibility.

‘Bee says we can drive through Starbucks tomorrow for pumpkin spice lattes,’ Belle informed me last night.

‘That’s generous of her,’ I said, or something equally sarcastic. In Bee’s defence, I imagine what she actually said was much more along the lines of ‘ask mum if she’ll drive us through Starbucks’ and something got lost in translation. The sarcasm wasn’t even warranted as I didn’t mind at all – who doesn’t like a little autumnal themed Friday evening excursion? I’ve been on a strict budget lately as apparently everything in the world now costs a million pounds, and it turns out that when you do stuff less, it becomes more exciting, so that’s one perk at least of being Quite Poor.*

I picked up baby Joey from nursery, (the ‘baby’ who is now four years old and about to start school and WEAR A TIE of all things), and then Bee from work, and we set off. The seasonal tension in the car was palpable. All talk was of the pumpkin spice. I was ready to pull over and start Googling pumpkin patches so that we could recreate this epic pumpkin based scene.

I’m going to be straight with you here. As excited as I was for the outing and the autumn vibes, I was in two minds about the actual pumpkin spice latte. The last couple of years I’ve found it a little heavy on the spice and not really NICE, which does take the edge of the whole thing. I was putting on a brave face though. A little too brave probably, verging on manic.

new psl recipe View Post


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‘If I make some chocolate pancakes with a peanut butter sauce,’ I asked Belle, ‘will you eat them?’

‘Will I eat some chocolate pancakes,’ she said, looking like she might have misunderstood the question, ‘if you make them for me right now?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘obviously.’

And so I did.

I pretty much only drink oat milk nowadays as it’s nicer in coffee and kinder on my stomach, and oat milk works really well in recipes too. Yeah yeah, I know you all know this, but did you also know that Modern Milkman can deliver oat milk to your door in the proper glass bottles? I didn’t. They also do kefir in glass bottles for the true millennials amongst you. Or strawberry milkshake for the 45 year old toddlers like me. All this as part of your regular dairy delivery. How very modern.

How to make dairy free chocolate pancakes

Modern Milkman has some plant-based milk recipes over on their website, or you can hang out here with me and the pancakes. For my dairy free pancakes you’ll need: View Post


Happy Pride Month!

To show my support I thought I’d do what I do best and make a drink and laze about in the garden with it. Huzzah! Obviously it’s a rainbow themed drink – a rainbow paradise cocktail in fact – because what kind of ally would I be otherwise?

The ‘effort versus impressing your friends’ ratio is excellent, it honestly hardly takes any time at all, which is perfect if you’re a lazy bones like me – all the more time for lounging in the sun scrolling through Instagram and doing word puzzles.

To make your own rainbow cocktail for Pride Month here’s what you need to do:

  • Pour a splosh of grenadine into the bottom of a large glass
  • Add a big handful of ice
  • Fill half the remaining glass with a mix of white rum and pineapple juice (and pretend you’re 19 again)
  • Top up with a mix of half and half water and blue curacao. You might want to pour this in carefully over the back of a spoon
  • Garnish with something suitably jazzy

Ideally you’ll have just painted your garden walls half white and half yellow and with a set of three swirly pink stripes as this will really set your rainbow cocktail off in the sunshine.

Oh wait, what now? I just happen to have done exactly that?? Well, almost, I have about half of the darkest pink stripe left to paint because the cats have adopted one particular flowerbed as their litter tray and the smell was too repulsive to stand next to for too long. I’m very pleased with it though, as is the little girl next door who has been climbing up to look over my fence at regular intervals to check on my progress.

‘Hello Jo!’ she said today, appearing over the fence as I took in the washing. ‘Your painting looks beautiful! Have you finished? Mummy told me not to bother you.’

(If you are reading this Mummy then I honestly don’t mind at all, it’s nice to be appreciated.)

I digress.

Rainbow cocktails are fun, but this post is really a reminder to support and celebrate all of your LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, and anyone else for that matter, not just for Pride Month but for always. Whether it’s making changes at work to create a more supportive environment, getting involved in campaigning or even just putting a sticker in the window of your car, here are some ways to Take Pride in supporting LGBTQ+ rights.

Cheers to that.

rainbow cocktail pride month



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I am very much the sort of person who takes pleasure in the small things. I will often go to bed and find myself actively looking forward to having a coffee in the garden the next morning, I spot and look at buds on tree branches, I love it when the dog wags her tail in her sleep – that’s the sort of level we’re talking here. It’s one of the things I love about myself as it means I’m very easily pleased and basically a cheap date, which is no bad thing what with the cost of living crisis.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised how many of my small pleasures revolve around food and drink, especially coffee. As a nation we’ve definitely embraced the ‘coffee as a treat’ phenomenon, which is why I think coffee would make an excellent gift this Easter instead of boring old chocolate.

I’m not suggesting just handing over a jar of Tesco’s finest freeze-dried, I’m talking about something a little bit special from The Brew Company.

The Brew Company make premium, speciality coffee, with a focus on sustainability, provenance and an authentic connection with coffee farmers. They choose specialty coffee beans from small independent farm-holders from all over the globe, hand-roasting and slow-crafting them in small batches in their artisan micro-roastery in Middelfart, Denmark.

(And yes, I admit I laughed at the name Middelfart, because Small Pleasures remember.)

The great thing about coffee from The Brew Company is that you can take it anywhere. Their premium coffees come in individual coffeebrewers – patented, portable bags that make your coffee for you, creating an experience somewhere between a cafetiere and a French press. All you have to do is pour hot water into the bag, and bish bash bosh, give it a few minutes for your coffee to brew and you’ve got a premium coffee wherever you happen to be, whether that’s at work or in the middle of a field.

Brew Company coffee bags View Post


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If you’ve ever watched Death in Paradise, chances are you’ve longed to spend a tropical evening on the edge of the water at Catherine’s Bar, gazing out over the sands and sipping a cold beer. Sure, if you were in Death in Paradise you’d also be looking over the case files from a baffling murder in a locked room but let’s be honest, that’s only going to add to it isn’t it?

Well, without wanting to make you too jealous, take a look at me, just this week…

The River Shack

Right?? It’s basically Guadeloupe. Except that it’s actually the River Shack at Stoke Gabriel, near Totnes, in Devon. I know, isn’t it gorgeous? We were even sat on a shack style patio. I just needed Catherine to saunter over in one of her long dresses and big hoop earrings and offer me a rum and I could have been there, about to crack the case.

I’d never been to Stoke Gabriel before but I’d been doing some research into dog friendly restaurants in Devon and was lured by the River Shack photos and also the promise of an ancient tree in the village churchyard that can grant wishes if you walk backwards around it seven times. View Post


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Sammy Satsuma recipe book review

This week Joey came round for the afternoon to do some baking. He turned three last month, and although I wasn’t entirely sure how good he would be at concentrating, I thought it was worth a try as cooking with kids is one of my favourite things to do. I always volunteer for the cooking activities at Brownies because they just love it so much and there’s always at least one who tries something they thought they didn’t like.

Initially Joey was sceptical about standing on the chair and seemed more interested in putting a yellow football in and out of the shed and saying he was going on holiday, but as soon as I got him in front of the pastry and he realised there was jam to spread he was 100% invested.

Cooking with kids

We were making a recipe from Joey’s new personalised recipe book from Sammy Satsuma. The concept behind Sammy Satsuma is simple – cooking is fundamental in teaching children about food and nutrition and getting kids involved in cooking means they’re more likely to try new foods. Being part of the cooking process gives them a sense of pride and investment in their food, which makes it a totally different experience from just having a meal plonked down in front of them. View Post