Lots of feedback last week so thank you for that, particularly around thoughts on ordering wine when out for a bite to eat. One person commented that when they are out, they tend to just go for a beer because they are embarrassed about asking for the wine list due to being intimidated by the waiter into making a decision quickly! I would love to know where this place is! No restaurant should make their client feel like this, under no circumstance and no matter what kind of establishment it is; The Fat Duck or a Toby Carvery! My concern is that this feeling could be quite common in people that are not so confident and feel less empowered than others to discuss their wine conversation. I really don’t wish to complicate what is essentially asking for a glass of X with my Y dinner, but it’s so simple, and yet hang ups about it are being talked about in forums online and has become a bone of contention within these small groups – and they are small groups to be fair, but this shouldn’t exist at all. I could go on, but I won’t because it’s not compelling enough to warrant talking any more about it …it does anger me though! (I have my angry face on, looks like Mr.T chewing a vinegar coated toffee) So, the fun staff – I think I may have diverted my attention away from the fact that wine is fun; my footnote at the end of each post says so, so it must be eh! Back in the day, 6000BC to be factual about it, wine was introduced to the world from Georgia and Iran and played its part in religion to begin with. The Greek god Dionysus represented wine! However, as time went on, wine became more of a social beverage and was accepted more and more – as time went on and wine production grew. Today there are over 1.5 million vineyards in Europe alone – even going by that simple fact, you can tell the scale of the beast………..and indeed the wonder that is vino! So, on that note, why not enjoy wine in a not so serious way where you can still learn – think of it as a class taught by Zippy, Bungle and George rather than sitting in a classroom with Mr. Ridley with his tweed jacket, fag stained beard, scuffed moccasins and trousers that look like they were made using sand and superglue! (I love reminiscing about my school days). Match It! I tried this once with my wine buddy Dave and our respective ‘better’ halves one Saturday night – and it started well, but then it became evident that the girls were merely interested in trying the wine without taking the time to see what food goes with it! The idea is for a group of you to bring a bottle of whatever you want and with that, bring a selection of food – this ca be a bag of almonds, some fruit, vegetable crudités, spices, herbs, coco pops, pop tarts – absolutely anything to be honest. Once you have this, you all place your wine on the table or floor and make sure you are all in a circle and that the wine is open, food prepared and ready to be devoured. You need to try the various foods with the wines and decipher what goes with what, and indeed what doesn’t. This is just plain fun right – better than necking a tinny and munching your way through a soggy kebab with some bad salad and worse chips! I found this a right good crack, and a brilliant way of injecting a bit of ‘Palate Training’ into the evenings frolics. This works both as an ice breaker for those nervy kind of house parties where if somebody sneezes the gasps of shock erupt from the mouths of the guests, and also at evenings where you are wanting to talk about politics and world debt – brighten it up with a game of Match It! Check out this link for a few fun things to do with wine. http://www.wineintro.com/fun/ So – what do we all think of wine labeling these days? In a world where we can now buy apps for our phones that will scan a bottle of wine and tell us where the nearest stockist is and where the world is a bit more precious over having greener bottles and labels made using recycled materials. My view is more is more!! Going against the grain a little, as the whole ‘less is more’ ideology spans across so many different things, but when it comes to wine, I think the more we can all see, learn, find out and explore about the wine the better. Why would you want to buy a bottle of wine with a front label but no back label? Why select a bottle that tells you where the wine is from, but goes into no detail as to what the wine actually is (grape variety). There are tight laws about labeling, for example the label MUST carry the name and full address of the bottler of the wine and in Australia and America, certain wines must state that they contain sulfites (quick heads up, sulfites naturally occur in wine and are added to halt fermentation and to preserve wines). This said, I still see loads of bottles of wine on shelf that contains hardly any information – certainly of value to the consumer anyway. Lets be honest, most of us would think that if a bottle starts with the name ‘Chateau…’ then it would suggest to us that “this wine must be good” – and to a small degree it doesn’t! For me, labels should indicative of what the winemaker is trying to do – if the winemaker has made a wine that shows lots of fruit, then the label should represent this in every sense – the colours on the packaging, the tasting note you see on the back label, the bottle itself. This is easy to say, but you see where I am coming from. A winery/brand should be as expressive with its labeling and packaging as much as it is with the winemaking itself. A wine that does this very well is Jacob’s Creek. The wines are fruity, tasty, show character and quality. The labels reflect this, there is nothing too poncy or elaborate about the text, its clean, concise, light-hearted in its approach and I love the ‘perforated parts you can peel from the back of the label, so that you can keep it and remember what the wine was if you forget it – genius! Couple of recommendations now that I have tried and tested over the last week:

I Monili Primitivo del Tarantino 2009 Racemi – forgive the long title, but this is a stonker of a wine at a cracking price!!  £7.49 or £5.99 if you buy 2 bottles – I can’t tell you enough how lovely this is!

Prmitivo - the 'proper' and 'original' Zinfandel!

Rioja Gran Reserva 2002 Gran Vendema – a great example of a true Riojan wine, full bodied, rich and sumptious with that lovely vanillaryness that the oak provides!  On special offer at Majestic at just over 9 sheets!

Fairleigh Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough – lovely example that typifies kiwi Sauvignon Blanc; fruit driven with balanced acidity and a crisp, lively finish – and at £7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles, its hard not to be tempted! 

Remember as well to try before you buy where you can – Majestic actually have some of the best tasting pods in their stores where you can have a taste of all sorts, especially their offers of the week. 

Now, staying with this theme, what does everyone feel about buying wine online?  Does it float your boat?  Or does it taint your cork?  Either way, we are finding ourselves immersed with ‘online offers’.  Online wine shops is nothing new, neither is it innovative anymore.  However, there are some people out there that seem to think that there is certainly room for innovation; a way for us to buy wine online without losing that ‘touchy feely’ way about buying it from a shop, or tasting it before saying “Yes guv’nor, I’ll have a case” or “Jog on Mr. Man, that tasted like suet!”  One such company is Yourfavouritewine.com formally Gondolawines.com – it’s backed by Peter Jones (Dragons Den) and run by Angela Mount MW.  The thing that these guys do differently, is that its not just an online wine shop – oh no!  It has partnered with TopTable.com that will see lots of competitions being run and also, a wine and food matching video by a celebrity chef will be sent to its 500,000 database in November!  Also with TopTable.com, it will be running three consumer wine and food tasting events for 500 subscribers at top London restaurants in November/December.  Another very useful part of the site will be their spirits and gifts range that will be launched in mid-November.  This site means business!  Research has shown that the average basket size is £103 – take that as you will.  I think that is very good considering their minimum order is just one bottle!  Logon today and have a look – just in time for Christmas!!  Yourfavouritewines.com

I’ll sign off this week with a note from the Sotherby’s auction that is happening as I write this post…3 magnums of Chateau Petrus (very famous Bordeaux) has been sold for £93k!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  May we all enjoy our £5.99’s knowing that some bugger out there has spent a fortune! Mind you, if I had that sort of cash spare, I would absolutely have bought them too!  I have been lucky enough to get an invite to an event on Tuesday night that sees some high-profile business people give speeches on Penfolds (Australian wine brand – reputable and well-regarded) – that includes a tasting of some of their oldest and finest wines, so I will be writing about that on Wednesday.

Until then remember that…………….Wine is fun, fun is wine drink it young and when you dine

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