Archive for the ‘Serving Wine’ Category

Lucy’s, Bowness on Windermere

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

The business card for Lucy’s carries the tagline “share in the experience”.  Oh dear, looks like I’m washing up again…


WART reaches Ottawa

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Seems I am not the only one complaining about wine temperature in restaurants.  I’ve just read this interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen.  Rightly moaning about red wines left on an open shelf for “decoration”.  I hope the writer meant 20° Celsius, not Fahrenheit.  I know Canadians are tougher than most but 12 below freezing is a pretty cool ambient temperature for a restaurant.

Maybe they should join my Facebook Wine At Right Temperature Campaign.

WART Campaign goes Facebook

Monday, January 25th, 2010

My Wine At Right Temperature Campaign now has a Facebook Group.  If you are sick of frostbite on your lips from drinking a restaurant Riesling, or you have ever burnt your tongue on a Pinot Noir served at 25 degrees, feel free to come and join the party, erm, I mean petition.

If the link fails to get you there, simply search for Wine At Right Temperature in Facebook Groups.

Piazza by Anthony, Leeds Corn Exchange

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Anthony Flinn is a bit of a food legend in Leeds.  His impressive CV includes a two year stint under Ferran Adrià at the world’s “best” restaurant, El Bulli.  Flinn’s own flagship restaurant, Anthony’s, is perpetually tipped for a Michelin star.  His latest project, Piazza, opened in late 2008, is situated in one of the most impressive, historically beautiful buildings in the North of England – Leeds Corn Exchange.  Anthony’s footprint includes an impressive 125 seater brasserie, a patisserie, bakery, chocolatier and delicatessen.  Wine, however, is another science.

Piazza pavement

My opening exchange with the waitress:  Gevrey Chambertin Domaine Heresztyn 2005 please – what temperature would you serve that?  “About two above room”. Ouch, no WART awards here.  Please can I have an ice bucket?  “Yes sir, no problem.”  Things are starting to improve already.  After all, the wine list looks well thought out, and superbly priced, and the menu looks bistro chic.


WART Campaign update

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

A bit of renewed interest (and support) in my campaign to get wines served at the right temperature but I fear I am fighting a losing battle.

I dined at Fino last week, an upmarket tapas place on Charlotte Street, London.  I ordered a bottle of Crianza and asked what temperature it would be served at.  The Spanish waiter handed me a bottle from the shelf behind that was about 25°C.  I volunteered that the people of La Rioja would never serve it so warm and was met with a resigned shrug.  “The customers complain if we serve it at the recommended temperature”.

Similar conversations I have had in numerous restaurants across the country always fall into two categories.  The first is the Fino example where the waiter points to the ignorance of the British public.  The second is where the waiter is one of the ignorami.  On more than one occasion I have been told that I cannot have an ice bucket for my red wine.

We Brits have it so drilled into our psyche that red wine should be tropical and white wine arctic that I wonder if we will ever change.

You might ask who the hell I am to determine what temperature a wine should be served at and people should drink to personal taste.  I totally agree with that, but it is not me who makes the suggestion, it is the person who made the wine and by listening to them, I have much improved my enjoyment of wine.  Furthermore, almost everyone I have forced to try a red in the teens rather than twenties has considered it a revelation.  It is a shame to spend so much money on wine and not get maximum enjoyment out of it.  But live and let live eh?

So if you run a restaurant, I understand that you have to play to your customer base.  Just please don’t look at me like I’m a pig at an H1N1 conference if I ask for an ice bucket when you serve me a red from your wine oven.

40 | 30 Carry on up the Gherkin

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The gherkin

I was going to review this place next year when I could have titled the post, 4030 2010.  But on the 40th floor bar of 30 St Mary’s Axe the view could not wait and, verily, it must be one of the most stunning in the whole of London.

Top of the (financial) world


Fitzroy Dolls, Hotel Russell, London

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Hotel restaurants always give me a slight sinking feeling. Reminders of 1980s boil in the bag meals; they always smell of stale cooking, probably because breakfast buffets are when they get 90% of their traffic.

The Hotel Russell probably counts early risers 99% of its clientele.  It’s easier to get a table at The Ivy than a breakfast table here.  Dinner, however, was predictably quiet.  A few lonely foreign travellers and one table of two couples from Yorkshire who were asking for more gravy – gravy shortages are punishable by death north of Watford Gap.

Grand old Dame


Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2008

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

I’ve got my comeuppance for slagging off Mark Hughes.  Man City announced that the UEFA Cup quarter final home leg would be a “reward for the fans” and tickets were priced at only £5 so “ordinary fans” could come and watch.  I am obviously not an ordinary fan since, despite numerous calls to the ticket office (engaged tone) the match is sold out and I have to watch on some backwater internet channel.  Shame – I am in Manchester on 16 April when the town turns into a Hamburger for a night.

So perhaps I should be more complimentary about people I have never met.

Everyone knows that it is impossible to mass produce and mass market a decent wine – especially a Pinot Noir.  Trouble is, nobody told Alfred Hurtado.  His Chilean Cono Sur brand is taking over the world and rightly so.

Burgundy?  New Zealand?  On yer bike!


A wine (nearly) as old as me

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I was at Sam’s Chop House in Manchester earlier this week.  Pat and Martin were kind enough to chip in and buy me a decent bottle of wine in memory of my birthday.  One from the year of my birth and reduced by an impressive £50 from the normal price.

Riojanas Monte Real Reserva 1964 had a dodgy cork, took an age to decant and was served too warm for me (about 23 degrees – I would serve at 18).  But it is probably the oldest wine I have ever drunk, so I was intrigued.

Monte Real, my part in its victory....


My sassenach sun shines in Glasgow

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

My own sun in Glasgow - just as well - it's minus 4!

I wonder what went through Claudio’s mind when I asked how warm the wine was.  I reached out my hand to touch the bottle.  Claudio winced.  Another stupid and ignorant Englishman?  Even worse than an ignorant Scotsman.  I grinned.  The bottle was cool.  Claudio nodded approvingly.  He had served the Primitivo Da Castello di Puglia at the recommended 16-18 degrees.  Probably even cooler actually, which suited the wine rather well.  Sweet flavours of cherries, cherry lips and bubble gum collided with the not unexpected tannic youth of the Italian stallion.