Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

EWBC needs a rebrand

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The popularity of the European Wine Bloggers Conference is growing so fast I am expecting it to be leading the voting on X-Factor next week.  Yet it is going through something of an identity crisis.

For a start, I am not sure any of the attendees would define themselves as bloggers; such an old-fashioned term that covers perhaps 10% of social media these days.

It is not really a conference and struggles to find themes that blend the wide varietal of participants together, other than the ubiquitous enthusiasm for drinking wine. As one of the forefathers from 2008, I was a bit confused as to why I enjoyed the event so much and I am still not sure why I find it so compelling, having now attended all four.

I must admit that I did question, and was shocked by the defensive reaction, that the 2011 edition had attracted about 50% of its audience from outside Europe. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered this week that the 2012 “conference” is to be held in Turkey, which is neither politically nor geographically part of Europe (not yet, anyway).

I even hear rumours that the scope is being widened to include those that use social media to communicate about things other than wine – food for example.

All fair enough, but if it is not in Europe, attendees come from all over the world and are not exclusively focussed on wine, blogging forms only 10% of content, and it is not really a conference, don’t we have a problem with nomenclature?

As if to rub salt into the wound, the European Wooden Boat Club has stolen the acronym.

So, I propose that it should be renamed “Social Media Unconference on Taste”. But do Gabi, Rob and Ryan have the balls to turn EWBC into SMUT?

Why journos SHOULD accept freebies

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

There has been much chatter, and Twitter, about the payment and potential corruption of critical journalism recently. George Monbiot on 29 Sept 2011, performed an ethical striptease that has shaken the journo tree to its roots, and I can assure you he did not leave his hat on. Hacks’ public reputations as bad as derivatives traders, or even MPs?

Tim Atkin and Jamie Goode have led reasoned arguments on behalf of wine writers, whilst Jim Budd is ethically fuming, if not yet fully unclothed.

I don’t consider myself a journalist since my bills are paid courtesy of a “day” job in software, but I do post my views on a public website and pass comment on wine, food and the like. So I thought I better put my size tens into the debate and share my thoughts.


Top ten wine blogs?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I pity these crazy foo’s?  That’s certainly not the order I would put them in.  And Confessions of a Wino would definitely not be in my top ten of UK wine blogs.  Laughable. I am not even trying to make money out of my site.

No wonder I get so many pesky (usually trite) press releases. I ain’t getting on no airplane with these guys!

Feel free to send me more samples though.  My neighbours keep asking about the parties, and I do occasionally write up wines if they are interesting in some way.

Got no more time fo da jibba jabba.

Angelus, the restaurant – not the wine

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I’m getting quite used to Opentable.  I don’t always book through the website  (or natty iPhone app) but it isn’t half useful for finding a table at short notice.  Especially in London.  Especially if you want to eat within a caber toss of where you happen to be.  And I happened to be in Lancaster Gate, if you are posh.  Or Bayswater if you are not.

Opentable threw up Angelus on Bathurst St.  Was it to be an homage to a great wine, or a mare?  (“Mayor” – see what I did there? Dicky daughters and all that).


Wimbledon Wine, Rosé d’Anjou

Monday, June 27th, 2011

If ever there was a wine that tasted of strawberries and cream (maybe with some rose hip syrup thrown in), this Anjou Rosé is it.  OK, so rosé is rarely going to make it onto your fine wine baseline, and to make a good food match point you are probably thinking “serving fresh shellfish on a warm, sunny terrace in Monaco”.

But this is not just Wimbledon fortnight, it is barbecue season and for once, Thor has kept his weapon in his pants.  So take advantage of these lazy warm nights and dip your toe, your racquet, or preferably your tongue in the rose coloured water of Anjou.

Anjou pigeon...erm rosé

I got mine from the Wine Society at £6.25 (my balcony cost considerably more even though in Manchester, and not Monaco).  And as a post script may I add that the berry fruit sweetness offers a love-all counterpoint to salty blue cheeses, of the sort you might find on Thor’s weapon.

Portuguese Man of WART

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Delighted to see that my WART campaign has hit Portugal with the ever dependable André Ribeirinho writing about the importance of wine serving temperature.

Portugal is one country where I once had to pick a waiter up off the floor as he made a goalkeeping dive to try to prevent me from drinking red wine at an inappropriately warm temperature.  Good stuff!”

You can read André’s article here.

Foxtrot Oscar, Chelsea

Monday, May 16th, 2011

When I visit London at weekends I like to scoff a proper Sunday lunch.  Whether I take Champagne as an aperitif depends on whether my team has won or lost.  On the occasion of 15 May 2011, I lunched at Foxtrot Oscar and the fizz, Raspberry Bellini, (OK I know it is Prosecco, not Champagne) was to celebrate rather than commiserate for a change.  After a 35 year “hiatus”, Man City won a trophy, the FA Cup.  And yet, I then went on to drink RED wine.  And on the day after a certain team from East Lancashire won the Premier League!


Dante Robino, Malbec, 2008

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

My mate Paul gave me a bottle of wine and told me that it is never wise to look a gift horse in the mouth.  So let’s take a glance at its teeth then!


STWC Wino gold customer service award

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

It seems my one man Twitter war against Virgin Trains is becoming a misnomer.  Twitter is getting ever fuller of people who are fed up of the poor customer service.  “At least their trains run on time” I hear you cry, and you have a point.  But the buffet is awful, the carriages always stink of toilets, the seats are uncomfortable, the seat reservation system rarely works, you will puke up if you try to use a laptop or read a book for more than 20 minutes (on a swaying Pendolino), and the pricing and peak hours policies are bizarre and unfathomable.

So, it is excellent to be able to highlight a company at the other end of the customer service spectrum.  My occasional orders are not going to make  Sunday Times Wine Club (Laithwaites) most valuable customer roster, but when I do see a deal I snap it up.  It does a super range of well priced en-primeur offers amongst other tempting goodies.

I always order in confidence because of their “no-quibble” guarantee and have always been very happy with the way any bad bottles are dealt with. 

But, I stretched this philosophy to what I though might be the limit recently.  I rang to report that three bottles in a mixed 2007 en-primeur Chianti case looked suspect.  The corks were protruding from the bottle in a way that suggested overheating.  I’ve opened enough bottles in my life to know this is not generally a good sign.

Shall I open one to see if it is drinkable?  I asked the polite girl on the end of the phone.  Maybe you would like me to return them?  Perhaps I should email you a photo?

None of the above were acceptable.  Instead, having checked the stocks, and regretfully informed me that the particular wine was no longer available, she merely asked what I would like as a replacement (or refund).  I suggested that a similar 2007 Chianti of her choice would be just fine.  She promised to consult the Fine Wine Advisers and get three bottles posted to me pronto. (See what I did there?)

That was all yesterday and today I received a confirmation that 3 bottles of Felsina Berardenga are on the way.  I can’t tell you how surprised, shocked and pleased I am.

A little Antipodean chess diversion

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Do you know Wino Sapien?  A doctor from Perth with excess intelligence and wit and more wine expertise than me.  You should read his blog.

I’ve been getting to know him a little too well.  We may both be deep into mid life crises, since we agreed to play postal chess.  No, not internet, nor even email chess.  Postal.  SNAIL MAIL!  The game has been going for nigh on 6 months and this is the rather paltry progress made in some varation of Queen’s gambit declined, that I don’t understand.

Slow, I know, but outrageous fun in an English eccentric sort of way.

Black to move – will you offer him any help?  Maybe he has already posted.  Such is the speed of 1970’s technology. If you want to laugh along, I dare say Ed might keep you up to date occasionally as well.  If you are into Chess I advise you to look away or be horrified.  You have been warned.

Normal wine service will be resumed soon…