Issue 270
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Wine in cocktails, food-paired wine, curveball wine, wine on a bed of wine. Wine. Wine as far as the eye can see! Birmingham Wine Weekend is your excuse to spend three days trying different pours for less than a fiver in more than twenty venues across the city. You'll also get access to one-off dinners and events — with grape as the hero — plus there are some John le Carré-grade twists for the 2019 edition. Some of which we'll be spoiling for you riiiiight now...
If you're a BWW veteran, you'll already know that a Wine Weekend wristband (£10) gets you access to a deluge of events and £4 taster wines: expect reds, whites, oranges, classics and some gloriously oddball drops. New for this year's edition of all things vin is wine cocktails. Birmingham Whisky Club's got a £4 combo of Torre Cerere Montepulciano, Cointreau, dark fruits and lemonade, fortified with a splash of Jim Beam. And if that sounds like your cup of... wine, how's about their wine cocktail masterclass? At 4pm on March 23, the event, like all those listed, is exclusive to Wine Weekenders and your £10 ticket'll get you a wine cocktail, plus three additional cocktail samples. Strictly for learning purposes, you understand.
Also putting on an ever so pretty £4 cocktail, Harvey Nichols' The Estate combines a Roku Riesling from Monterey County with a bergamot liqueur, and edible flowers. In addition to six tastings for wristband holders (March 23 & 24, £15), the team is on Friday night dinns (£50). Get deep into pairings like ox cheek ravioli and a Chene Bleu rosé, or how's about pan-fried halibut with a chilled glass of Ligurian white? The deets
A single bottle of mead is the result of thousands of bees visiting millions of flowers, collecting their nectar and refining it. And if you're wondering what that has to do with wine, mead is sometimes known as honey wine and at the JQ's Vanguard, their BWW £4 pour is Shire Meadery's dry light mead. Expect delicate flavours and masses of quaffability. On cocktails, the team is plumping for a Lyme Bay Cherry Mead, raspberry brandy and apple concoction.
"You can't pair wine with art," bellowed our editor, slamming doors like J.Jonah Jameson. She's wrong, of course. This after-hours number at BMAG sees curator of Fine Art, Victoria Osborne, talk a small group through five European paintings, whilst Tony Elvin from the Wine Events Company pairs a different drop to sup with each piece. The pairings might link to the artist, the scene in the painting, or be inspired by the depiction. Take Claude Gellée's painting of Ponte Molle, an ancient bridge from where travellers' would historically get their first view of Rome. Tony's picked a wine that's been made in the region since the Middle Ages, and could well have been carried by visitors getting their first look at the capital, from this precise spot. At 6pm on March 22. Tickets are £25.
Another slab of new for 2019 is a drinks and canapé option (£6) at various venues that will be fully revealed when you pick up your wristband. Chung Ying Central's got a Riesling paired up with steamed kimchi dumplings and Korean cabbage (£6) for all three days of B-dubya-dubya, plus a four-course wine banquet on March 24. Staggeringly, China is the seventh largest producer of wine in the world, and the dinner is your chance to try drops like a Riesling from Changyu in Shandong Province, as well as aromatic Alsatians (no relation to the dog). Tickets are £39.95.
Our final pick from this year's vintage involves lab coats and conical flasks (remember those?). The Wine Lab is in session at Malmaison on March 23 from 2pm and is all about testing our preconceptions about wine. Can we really tell the difference between cheap and expensive glasses of the stuff? Does wine actually "change with food", and if it so, how does it change? The answers to all of life's biggest questions will, of course, be accompanied by plenty of different wines. It's £20 a spot.
Birmingham Wine Weekend runs from March 22 to 24. Wristbands are £10 here.


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an icon in the US, so this biopic assumes a lot of good will. Does it work if you’re just not that fussed about senior figures in the legislature of a far-off land? The good news is it does, with this look at a key sex discrimination case early in her career playing like a splice of a legal drama and a sports movie and, like all good sports movies, our heroine is very much the underdog. It’s hard not to root for her, given the often breathtaking sexism she faces — Brum-born Felicity Jones does good work in presenting the dignity she maintained in the face of it – and how being a dignified resister of prejudice isn’t much fun. It may not be subtle, but the message is rammed home, and a genuinely heroic figure gets her due. Times & trailers


Hit The Ode is back and, this month lands slap, bang during International Women’s Day. The poetry performance night marks IWD by opening up to talent from our doorstep and worldwide. Actor-writer Rosie Fleeshman’s poetry tackles 21st century relationships, body image, and sexuality while the soundtrack will be performed by AGĀMA, the Electro-Soul-Jazz project of Brummie native Cassandra Gurling. All that should leave you warmed up for Malika Booker (pictured), whose wealth of wordy experience spans poetry, theatre and education. And if you’ve ever wanted an opportunity to perform your own poetry *starts sweating uncontrollably,* you can sign up to a lucky dip on the night for one of ten, three-minute slots. At the Patrick Studio on March 8, tickets are £5 in advance.


You know how we're always looking out for you and your upcoming table reservations? We've cosied up with the lovely lot behind Hampton Manor and it turns out, they're almost as into you as we are. In fact, they're so keen to meet you and your pals that to mark their ten-year anniversary, if you book dinner at the Manor's Michelin-starred Peel's restaurant on a Tuesday or Wednesday this Spring (March 5 to May 29), your friend's dinner is on the house. And in case you can't pick between mates, if you book a table for four, two of your gaggle don't pay for dinner. You'll choose from the team's four and seven-course menus, full of seasonal lookers like Chef's Longhorn beef, swede and black garlic creation and the beetroot, goat’s cheese ice-cream and pickled pear dish pictured. Hampton Manor is minutes from Hampton-in-Arden train station, which you can get to in 14 shakes of a lamb's tail, direct from New Street, 36 times a day. Just mention us when you email to book. You have until April 3 to make a reservation but as this is a first come first served sort of thing, probably get on it.


"You're one microscopic cog, in his catastrophic plan" lilts Nick Cave. And if he's that wise in song, just imagine what the singer-songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional actor might say in person. Join him for an evening of open discussion — including questions from the audience — as well as music, in the form of some of his very favourite songs performed on the piano. Tickets (from £33) go on sale TODAY (Thursday) at 9am. At Symphony Hall on June 17, his Australasian tour sold out entirely.
Venue: Saba, 577 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, B12 9BS; website 
Choice: Minced lamb kebab (£8.99) Chooser: Waitress

Where are you on the obligatory grilled tomato you'll always find on your plate at Persian restaurants? Like the sculpted carrot that comes with Thai starters, we can dig it. But we'll never understand it like the main event — the chelo kebab koobideh — an ugly delicious minced lamb kebab that intros juicy and smoky to each other, then books them into a hotel room. When you over-order at the innocuous-looking family-run cafe, be sure include the borani bademjan (£4.99), our server's pick of the three aubergine starters, which is fried and mashed up with tomatoes, onions and Saba's homemade strained yoghurt. For its texture and its bit of fresh, the panir sabzi (£4.99) also makes our order list. The ever so simple sounding combo of feta, walnuts and plenty of herbs should be totally recreatable at home, but just doesn't give as much bite and flavour when we make it. Happily, pretty much every starter seems to be served with a proper Persian sesame seed naan, but don't be too taken with the bread's beguiling ways, if you can save a spot for the baklava on pud. Note: Saba is not licensed and is not BYO. The Persian tea we were given within minutes of arriving was however completely delicious. 
Whether or not you remember Leo Kattou's stint on MasterChef: The Professionals,  you'll find Simpson's senior sous at Baked in Brick on March 4, where he'll be barbecuing traditional Greek kebabs with his Dad. More
To mark seven years of beer, Beavertown's collabing with seven breweries. Try the seven deadly sins themed line-up at Bonehead today. The selection includes 'Sloth' by Brum's own Burning Soul. The deets
Want to know what the eff all this talk of foraging is about? Join Foraging Course Birmingham for a pootle round Moseley Park. The 3.5 hour sessions are £35 and have a habit of selling out.
Birmingham Brewing Company's taproom is open this Friday and Saturday with grilled cheese sandwiches to keep you the right side of hungry. More

"The wine — it made her limbs loose and liquid, made her feel that a hummingbird had taken the place of her heart."

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Robb SheppardAndrew Lowry
PICTURES: Fjona Black (Hampton Manor); Focus Features (On the Basis of Sex)

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