A nations drink habits.

Thanks to Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc for highlighting these figures. This is what we are drinking at home.



Looking at these figures there is obviously a difference between women and men. If there is no red wine, the blokes hit the beers whilst the ladies continue on the wine and champagne.

Regular readers will know I am a big fan of Provincial Rose. I am disappointed to see how poorly this faired. So come on gents, man up and drink some lovely rose.

whispering angel

We had our first summer rose this weekend. I chilled it in an ice bag, which looks great. Really convenient and effective on a hot day..

The makers name for the ice bag, I am sure you can guess and readily available from our favourite South American online retailer

We can now enjoy the World Cup without having to stress about England and  before Andy Murray puts us through the mill at Wimbledon. Don’t you just love the summer.

Ps The wine is our current favourite. Whispering Angel from FVD

PPS I think I have scored some declassified Lafite, but more next time…..

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Ordering wine in France, my biggest mistake

la louche a beurre

There is a lovely rustic restaurant just opposite the castle in Lourmarin which is a place we just love to visit. It specializes in crepes and steaks, not an obvious combo but they do both extremely well.

One Friday lunch I ordered a pichet of wine expecting the usual 1/4 litre but instead this 50cm tall vessel arrived with what must have been a litre of local provincial red. Always a little stubborn I decided that this needed draining even if it meant me sleeping for the rest of the afternoon.

It was only after I had finished that I twizzled the vessel around to see that it was calibrated and yes, you just paid for what you drank.

Thing is,  I just might make the same mistake this year.

If you go on a Friday you can wander around the market to build up your appetite before eating.

lourmarin market


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This would explain some of the funny looks I get when in France

We are quite often away when the Tour de France rolls through France and I always like to find a locals bar to watch it for a couple of hours.

I normally order le rose and it is true that often several people swing round to see who the muppet is. Well it’s une biere from now on…


Next time my greatest wine gaffe

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Decanting revisited

I have been promising to re-visit this subject for several months now. It was prompted by a series of articles in, errrr Decanter magazine.

Over 3 editions and countless pages it came to some broad conclusions. They tested various wines, vintages and decanted them over several set periods.

rainman decanter


One example would be a Shafer from Napa with a Lynch-Bages from Bordeaux over three vintages 1996, 2000 and 2006. Then tasting immediately, then after one, two and four hours. To save you having to read all this info, the conclusions were pretty straight forward.

The answer is YES, do decant and one hour ahead is consistently good.

I did think about finishing the blog here as the simplest advice is often the best but there are one or two other pointers.

Decanting two hours ahead is good for younger wines.

Longer decanting periods are risky.

Very rich wines keep their freshness by being opened but not decanted.

A good half way house might be to open a wine an hour before serving, pour a little into a glass and taste immediately and then after 10 minutes. Depending on the taste you will know whether it needs decanting.

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Good advice just in time for the summer holidays

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Bottled in the UK

You may well have seen this on the back of a bottle and been a little perplexed. You can understand why English wine is bottled here but why are Australian and wines from further afield sometimes bottled here?  It may shock you to learn that a large proportion of supermarket wines are shipped over in these huge vacuum packed bags inside regular shipping containers.

wine bag

A company on an industrial estate in Durham called Greencroft Bottling is Europe’s leading wine bottling plant. They filled 71 million bottles last year.

The benefits seemed to be less transport costs and CO2 emissions. The bulk shipping defers the moment of bottling and thus the start of the wine’s shelf life. Less damage to bottles and labels. This all sounds fantastic and logical.

For me it just removes the feeling of terroir a bit . I love it when it says on the label that it was bottled by the proprietor or on the estate. You can quite imagine this, where as a warehouse in Durham is a little more taxing. But may be a little more hygienic than this.

wine bottling

I’ll leave it up to you, but next time you buy a bottle of Australian or Chilean wine, take a look at the label.

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The Sampler

I have been trying to find a reason to visit The Sampler in South Ken for some time. It is a wine shop with 10 sampling machines. A nitrogen blanket in the sampling machines prevents oxygen from getting into the open wine bottle so this allows you to have many wines ready for tasting at any time. It’s a great idea and best of all, it really works!

Rather than tasting lots of different wines, my motivation was to try some really expensive wines in very small quantities. The type of wine that you could never justify buying a bottle of. After cleansing my palate with a couple of good value glasses I headed straight for the Icons machine. Apologies for the shaky picture but I was becoming a little excited by this time.

photo 2

The idea is you charge up a purchase card with however much you want to spend, insert this into the machine and choose from 3 different sample sizes.

The first wine I tried was a 1998  Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou from Saint Julien in Bordeaux. It’s a second-growth wine from a pretty good year and retails for about £90.00 a bottle.

I chose the smallest sample size and it probably equated to a couple of sips.  I certainly did not dare visit the loo in case it had evaporated by the time I had returned. It was enough however to get a real good taste and aroma for the wine.

photo 3

Was I happy with what I had paid for the sample, of course. Would I have been happy buying a bottle, no. At nearly £100.00 it is eight times what I would normally spend, is it eight times as good?   No, but that not how it works. Demand and supply play a role as does the scarcity of any older vintage. They don’t make any 1998’s any more….

I had hoped to taste a first growth but this encounter had ticked one of my wine dream boxes.

I think the sampler is a great place to go with a few friends and experiment. It’s very social and good fun.

Next time, I will finally get around to the decanting piece

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