Sunday, 20 December 2015

Fizzes that sparkle

Whether you like champagne or prosecco or any other sparkler for that matter, there is nothing like a glass of fizz to help lift the spirits and get you into that festive mood.

These bottles of bubbly will rise to any event.

Champagne Bollinger, Special Cuvée, £39.95 or if buying a case of 6 bottles £29.95 per bottle, £179.70 per case, Berry Bros & Rudd (  
A full-bodied well-balanced champagne with a super creamy, rich texture. Crammed with toasty, nutty flavours and a twist of citrus, this fizz oozes elegance and class.

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2006, £65, The Good Wine Shop
From Billecart-Salmon, a house which is dedicated to producing quality rather than quantity, this powerful golden liquid tantalises the palette with mesmerising rich, fruity tangs. Predominantly pinot noir, tempered by chardonnay, this bubbly will seduce you.

Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, £24.99, Waitrose
Made entirely from the chardonnay grape, this invigorating, well-structured champagne charms with apples and citrusy tangs. An impressive wine that slips down a treat. 

Prosecco Asolo Extra Dry, Bele Casel, Veneto, £14.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, (
Drenched in white peaches and pears laced with 16g residual sugar, this is a delightful wine with a crisp, refreshing finish.  

La Gioiosa Prosecco DOCG Superiore, £13.49 Waitrose
A dry and flavoursome prosecco that enlivens the palate with floral and fruity aromas. This is an extremely pleasant drink.

Berry Bros. & Rudd English Sparkling Wine, 2011, Gusbourne Estate £24.95, Berry Bros & Rudd,  (
The first English sparkler to carry the Berry Bros. & Rudd label so you would expect it to be top notch and it is, Citrus-soaked with nuances of nuts, this makes a perfect apéritif.

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 18 December 2015

Taylor Taylor London at Liberty London

Taylor Taylor London, renowned for translating catwalk looks into styles to suit the individual, has recently opened its fifth salon in the capital at the department store Liberty London. 

Complete with Liberty print antique furniture, this modern and airy salon combines luxury with creativity and charm.

Maria, my stylist, took great pains looking at my hair when I arrived. She saw that the sides and fringe had frizzed slightly due to the weather.

She said that it would have been a lot worse had I had layers in it. “On damp days, you can tie it back to help prevent fluffiness,” Maria added.  “Wearing it above your shoulders, as you do, makes it look thicker and it is still long enough to be put into a ponytail. While I am styling, I will give you some pointers.” 

It was washed and conditioned with Davines products, which I find rather good, before Maria started work on my transformation.

“Best to rough dry your hair using your fingers to give lift at the roots. (She advised me not to bend my head forward as this would only make it frizzy.) 

“Once it is ready to style take a round bristle brush and place it in on top of the hair as opposed to underneath. It is easier to create tension this way which will help you get the hair to lie flat,” she instructed. “When you have taken the brush out, while your hair is still warm, use your hand to flatten it down."

When finished, she sprayed a light dusting of lacquer on to her fingers and ran them over my locks. “This will help hold the style,” she said.

One satisfied customer, I left the salon looking a whole lot better than when I arrived.

By Daralyn Danns

For more information visit

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Wine tasting at the Royal Horseguards hotel, London

The 5-star Royal Horseguards hotel has long been a favourite haunt for politicians, aristocrats and civil servants. Built in the style of a French château in the 1880s on the former site of Whitehall Palace, this hotel has certainly led an interesting life. 

It housed the original Scotland Yard. One Twenty-one Two (1212), the Royal Horseguards’ acclaimed restaurant, bases its name on the former telephone number of the London Metropolitan Police which was known as Whitehall 1212. 

The National Liberal Club, founded by William Gladstone in 1882, has its home in the northern end of the building adjoining the hotel.

From secret service meetings held during the two world wars to playing host to the Treasury and bankers tasked with sorting out the credit crunch, the walls could reveal a tale or two.

The 5-star Royal Horseguards hotel

Taking the marbled spiral staircase, reputed to be the largest free-standing one in Europe, I found myself in the cellar. Behind a closed door, so the rumour goes, is a secret passage that Winston Churchill had commissioned to lead from the National Liberal Club to the next door buildings.

What a perfect setting for the main event, a wine tasting with educator Kelly Bayliffe who promised to divulge a few of her tips.

Our first challenge was to test two sparklers to see if we could guess what they were. There was no mistaking the dry, fresh bubbly with toasty, biscuity nuances. It was so delicate and elegant  that it had to be Taittinger Brut Réserve (glass £15, bottle £85). This is an extremely drinkable champagne which works well as an apéritif.

Ready for the tasting

A feisty sparkler with less yeast than the champagne tingled the tongue with apple pie flavours. This turned out to be Chapel Down Brut Blanc de Blancs (glass £11, bottle, £60). If you have not tried English fizz, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.

Then it was on to the wines. When flavours persist in your mouth, according to Kelly, you won’t drink as much. “A good wine should make your mouth water,” she says. So, it is worth going for quality over quantity.

A great piece of advice from Kelly is to smell the wine before you drink it. After swirling, smell the aromas. It will help you to appreciate the taste.

For every half an inch you smell the wine away from your nose, you should, she advises, be prepared to spend £5 more on the bottle in a bar or restaurant. 

Wine educator Kelly Bayliffe

She also recommends sampling it before you buy even if you are buying a glass . “If the establishment will not comply, go somewhere else.”

There are wines for the different seasons of the year. Kelly feels that as we change the weight of the clothes we wear each season, so we should change our wines.

The aromatic Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (bottle, £72) always delights my palate with its fruitiness and crunchy acidity.  

But, how right the lady was. On a cold winter’s evening I prefer something slightly heavier. A number from Saint-Véran (bottle, £42) although quite feisty, was more intense. I could envision myself drinking this chardonnay with turkey.

When you are pairing wine with food, Kelly says to ensure that they do not overpower each other. When eating out, ask the sommelier for guidance. Tell him what you like and do not like.

Pinot noir is one of the hardest grapes to get right but when it is, the velvety smooth wine bursting with cherries and raspberries is a real treat. It can also mature with more vegetal tangs.

The Gamay-Pinot Noir Coteaux Bourguignons Rouge (bottle, £38) crammed with summer fruits was so light, it slipped down a little too easily. 

Oozing blackcurrants with bags of charm and flavour, the robust full-bodied red we tried next was Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (bottle, £33).

As Kelly was at pains to point out, the soil where the grapes are grown will play a part in the final taste of any wine. For example, try a cabernet sauvignon from France and one from Chile and you should taste the difference.

After some delicious food and a few more drinks under our belts, the evening was all too quickly over. 

If you are wondering what wines to accompany your holiday feasts, remember Kelly’s words: “There is no wrong wine if you like it.”

By Daralyn Danns

For more information about wine tasting at the Royal Horseguards hotel visit

Twitter & Instagram: @horseguardsLDN

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Spotlight on Heeley Parfums

The young English designer James Heeley while working and living in France was captivated by scents and decided to create his own line made in accordance with the art of traditional French perfumery.   

 “Fragrance takes you to another place,” says the one-time philosophy student. He doesn’t label his scents masculine or feminine they are there to be worn and enjoyed by whoever likes them. “When it comes to scent, there are no rules.” 

Inspired by life, everyday occurrences, memories or dreams or simply the ingredients themselves, James has devised a contemporary collection which stands out from the crowd. 

Wearing fragrance always evokes a reaction whether it reminds you of a place, a person, or an occasion or even a mixture of all. And those I smelt certainly fed my senses. 

One of my favourites was Menthe Fraîche. Yes, it is reminiscent of mint growing in your garden but it is far more complex and sophisticated than that. Laced with Sicilian bergamot, green tea and white cedar, this is a lovely invigorating fragrance which is easy to wear.

His new scent Phoenicia may take you through a journey of this ancient land, however I was rather smitten with Hippy Rose. Not a typical soapy rose scent which so many of these types are, this is an elegant patchouli  rose fragrance with hints of amber and musk, vetiver and incense with a  smattering of refreshing bergamot. 

It might have been inspired by India and the hippy movement, but to me it reminds  of a walk in a beautiful English rose garden. Like I always say, fragrance is so personal.  

James takes classic themes and gives them a modern interpretation resulting in distinctive scents. If you haven’t yet discovered the talents of this man, it is time you did.

By Daralyn Danns 

Heeley Parfums  Hippy Rose (£125, 100ml EDP Spray) are available from Harvey Nichols and Selfridges