chocolate cakeLet’s drink to flavanoids, and eat to them too. Flavonoids are found in many food and drinks but there are particularly high levels in grapes; apples; green and black tea, soybeans and cocoa. Classed as antioxidants, flavonoids have many health benefits including reducing blood cholesterol levels and easing menopausal symptoms. They can also enhance the memory’s ability to remember and think clearly.

choc cakeIf you want to have a go at making a flavanoid-rich chocolate, walnut and cinnamon sponge cake, then try this Gary Rhodes recipe I’ve adapted. After lining a 10-inch cake tin and setting your oven to 180 degrees, get out the food processor and put in:

• 6oz butter (no margarine please!)
• 8oz soft brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 6oz plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder (I tend to fling in the equivalent 1:2 ratio of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar instead)
• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 4oz cocoa (Oxfam Finest Cocoa from Africa gives it a rich-chocolate taste)
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 1oz walnuts
• ½ pint of Mackeson’s sweet stout (it must be sweet stout, not a traditional bitter stout like Guinness).

Blend until smooth and scrape it all out into your baking tin. Cook for an hour. When cool fill with apple jam and serve with a dollop of cream.
If, by any chance, you don’t eat this fast enough and it starts to go stale, don’t despair. Warm a thick slice up in the microwave and pour on some Bird's custard – guaranteed to moisten up any slightly past-it cake.

If you want something to wash it down with, try drinking up the rest of the can of stout or pour yourself a glass of Chianti.

Villa Maria Riesling winePG Wine Reviews

Organic Italian Pinot Grigio 2018
£5.99 Aldi
A refreshing and balanced wine that should be staple in any fridge this summer. The thing is though that it comes in a dumpy-shaped bottle that doesn’t fit on the fridge door shelf but it can fit in if laid flat on a main shelf.

Carnivor Californian Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
£10 Ocado
The colour of elderberry juice, this thick purple red tastes of caramel covered raspberries with a liquorice topping.

Asia de Cuba Cosmopolitan German Riesling 2017
£12.99 Virgin Wines
Despite the Cuban references this wine is actually made with German grapes but does taste best with Asian-style spicy foods. The floral, peach and apple flavours can cope with spice and chili.

De Martino Chilean Cinsault 2018
£14.99 Virgin Wines
A light-bodied red that resembles an oomphy Pinot Noir but is another grape variety altogether – Cinsault. More often used in blends this red makes cherry and Marmite tasting wines.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk

When I first started buying wine it was a little bit of a lottery. My choosing style mainly relied on finding wines that either didn’t look, or sound, like the German wines we used to get as a treat at Sunday lunch as a kid (I was too sophisticated now, surely?) or some random choice based on what was displayed cunningly at eyeball-browsing height on the supermarket shelves. This resulted in some nice wines and some that just tasted blah. So what have I learnt since those heady, youthful days? Well here are five things I wish I’d known as a wine buying beginner.

Hot or cold. Wet or dry. The weather so far this year is proving unpredicatable. Which doesn’t help when deciding what wines to get in to match the ever changing food choices that unseasonal frosts or frazzle can bring. But be assured there is a wine choice whatever the weather.

degree mortar boardIt’s the almost the end of this year's exams. Perhaps you’ve just taken your evening class GCSE or know someone who’s handed in their very last essay. So how do you celebrate should the results prove to be a winner? Well it's got to start with the opening of a bottle of bubbly.