If there’s one thing we have definitely been able to do during this enforced lock-down, it’s drink!

Granted, it may not be in a pub or restaurant (can 4th July come any sooner?) surrounded by friends in great company, but in the comfort of your own home and still surrounded by friends, albeit virtually.

Can you imagine owning shares in something called Zoom prior to lock-down by the way? If you had, you must be sitting pretty given the value has increased by 200% in a year!

But anyway, back to the drink.

With sales of alcohol up massively during the lock-down (let’s face it there has been nothing else to do has there?), there’s probably never been a better time for English Wine Week (20th to 28th June).

Most food and drink awareness days which have occurred during the pandemic have either been cancelled or re-scheduled, but you can see why Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) – the national organisation for the English and Welsh wine industry – chose to keep their week firmly in the diary.

And it probably didn’t hurt that the week also takes in Father’s Day because, let’s face it, Dad’s can drink!

So, there’s lots of events happening virtually to celebrate the fantastic wine being produced in this country. We’ll stop there for a second because can you imagine even a few years ago, using words like ‘fantastic wine’ and ‘in this country’ together in the same sentence?

Still don’t believe it?

Well, when a society magazine like Tatler declares English wine is “the tipple of choice for the most discerning of drinkers”, then you know there has been a massive sea change.

In the past decade, over 500 vineyards have opened in the UK and they are thriving, partly thanks to a shift towards producing sparkling, rather than still, wines and also thanks to the warmer summers we have been having, particularly in the south and south east where most of the English wine is produced.

We won’t comment on the Welsh weather though, after all, we’re currently writing this blog in North East of the country where this week it’s felt more like autumn than winter!

Wine is also perfect for a picnic, which is our theme for June (even though the weather hasn’t played ball). Perfect for drinking whilst sitting on a blanket during these longest of days and also perfect when it’s been used in the cooking of food.

Which brings us to this week’s recipe. Cheers.

Cottage Pie Tartlets

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1lb beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • large glass red wine (English please)
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 3tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • few thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Ready-made mini pie shells (unless you prefer to make your own pastry)


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion, carrots, celery and garlic gently for 5-10 mins before turning up the heat and adding the mince.
  2. Pour over a large glass of red wine and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for an hour. Turn up the heat at the end if necessary, to reduce the gravy.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the pie cases until the pastry is cooked.
About Jane Beesley
Development & Innovations Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.