Wine Society in modernisation shocker

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Following a recent explosion of new technology at BBR, I am delighted to see that the Wine Society has finally taken a giant leap out of the 19th century and launched a blog:  Society Grapevine.

Social networking is a crucial way of building relationships with ones customers.  The Society has unique access, presence, reach and expertise that makes for interesting and useful material.  Well done!

Shame there is no iPhone app yet though…

Hank Marvin in the UK?

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

If you eat out in the UK you might be interested in a new website aimed right atcha… Here is the press release:

An online portal, which brings people with a passion for food together to share their dining out experiences, has been launched. iStarvin, a site that combines the convenience of a restaurant directory with in-depth content and eye-catching photos, connects individuals with an interest in food and dining, allowing them to follow each other’s activity or seek recommendations for a special occasion.

Unlike the launch of many of their competitors, iStarvin has already done an adept job of creating a highly comprehensive restaurant directory.  There are few, if any reviews yet, and there are one or two website glitches, but it looks like a great start.  Clearly they hope to create a community to contribute insights and recommendations, but the business model relies on restaurateurs taking the opportunity to embellish the offer (for a price) and include, for example, the facility to book tables online.  Like any advertising model this depends on Muggles like me and you using the service.

Being a mobile kind of guy, I rarely search a website unless it is apped up.  I am getting increasingly dissatisfied with Urbanspoon, Opentable, and AroundMe, so I hope that when iStarvin launches the iPhone app, it will be a truffle amongst mushrooms.

This is a well worn business model with no clear leader so I admire iStarvin’s balls in entering the market.  Having said that, they have learnt from their competitors’ mistakes and it looks to be the best attempt yet from a consumer perspective (and that is the critical success factor).

iStarvin is using social media well to publicise the new site.  I learned of it on Twitter from the excellently erudite Oliver Thring, one of the many food bloggers I met at EWBC.  If you are a foodie, you should also follow Niamh, Chris, Lizzie and Douglas, charming chaps and chappesses all.

Confessions from EWBC 2008

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Last year’s European Wine Bloggers Conference was a hoot. Erm, I mean a serious and considered look at the online wine world where ideas were floated, issues were shared, problems were halved, wine was consumed, and some people even got drunk.

As you can see from my eyes, this VinusTV video was filmed the morning after a huuuuuuge tasting where I sipped, but swallowed copiously.

If you write a wine blog, or have an interest on online wine affairs, I strongly recommend that you attend EWBC 2009 in Lisbon, 30 October.  Hopefully you will find me in better shape to speak with you.

Wino Head Candy

Friday, April 10th, 2009

As of today:

400 posts
31 categories
802 tags
12,988 spam comments
149 red wines
92 white wines
108 restaurants
1 case of middle aged spread

Mystic Meg needed for EWBC2009

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Apparently I am a wine blogger.  I know this because I was invited to (and attended) the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference 2008 in La Rioja.

The organisers are canvassing for candidates to attend the 2009 event “in mid June in Italy”.  Not very precise, but then again in these credit crunched times I don’t blame them for trying to assess likely interest before committing to the cream cracker budget.

If you are interested, email Rob, Ryan and Gabriella at and let them know who you are.  If it lives up to half the value, fun and fuzzy memories of the 2008 event it is one not to be missed.

If you can also predict when and where it will be, can you let me know.

Game of tag

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Since people were asking how to navigate around this site, for example to find recommendations for a decent red wine for less than a tenner, I weakly offered a “Wino’s Favourites” page to highlight what I thought was good at the time.

This has not been a raging success so I have deleted it and instead tagged all my posts with relevant monikers to make it easier to search the site.  You can do so by clicking on your preferred phrase in the tag cloud in the right hand column of the home page.

Bags of fun at EWBC

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I am in La Rioja, Spain for the European Wine Bloggers Conference.  Unfortunately, and much to the amusement of the other 39 attendees, my bag is in Palermo, Italy.  Shirts, electronics, wine samples, underwear…

So Friday morning was spent in Bilbao buying up cheap clothing to see me through the weekend.  Seems someone picked my bag off the transfer bus at Stansted Airport by mistake, and managed to check it onto their flight before noticing it wasn’t their bag and despite five increasingly desperate announcements I put out over the tannoy system.

I managed to find a few grundies and t-shirts from Zara, and El Corte Inglés (the only shop that still had any summer items).  I’ll wear a nice warm leather jacket like the next guy, but it’s 30°C here and sunny.

I was quite embarrassed to be the only person not to have wine samples at the opening evening tasting.  But this was followed by a great tapas meal at El Lorenzo in Logroño.  Jamon Serrano, and mushrooms and scrambled egg being the two dishes that stood out.

This morning we went to the awesome and monied winery, Dinastía Vivanco for the conference, a tour, lunch, and tasting.  The Vivanco family has spent invested huge amounts of wonga on a veritable palace full of Rolls Royce standard wine equipment, but the level of confidence and buzz about the place gives the firm impression that things are going well and success is assured.  Certainly the quality of the wines, for a place built in 2004, are excellent.  Rafa Vivanco, the winemaking one (Santiago is the business brother) is enthusiastic, coherent and not afraid to experiment.

There is also a superb restaurant with panoramic views across Rioja, and a museum that boasts, amongst other things, the largest collection of corkscrews in a single room, anywhere in the world (over 3,000).  I’ll blog about one or two of the wines in a later post, but if you see any Dinastía Vivanco wines (widely available in UK restaurants) I encourage you to give them a try.

Tonight was spent at another great tasting, this time provided by a huge range of Portuguese and Spanish producers, followed by more tapas at La Chata (not as good as El Lorenzo but the belly pork was awesome).  Let’s just say the scales are creaking.

Tomorrow finds us visiting a couple more wineries, including one of my favourites, Riscal.  Life could be worse, bag or no bag.

European Wine Bloggers “to drink Rioja dry”

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

The European Wine Bloggers Conference is fast approaching and I am looking forward to meeting up with a wide range of nationalities with one common aim, to drink Rioja dry discuss maturely the status and future of wine blogging in Europe.  But my travel plans are a nightmare and I’ve really messed up.

The conference is in Logroño, which is a bloody good reason to visit in its own right, being at the heart of La Rioja.  But my flight is to Bilbao, home of the world famous Guggenheim Museum, and I booked the wrong flight back, leaving me zero time to visit.  And you know how difficult/expensive it is to change a flight with QuEasyjet.

Furthermore, my flight out is from Stansted at 7:15am which means I have to leave home at 3am to get to the airport – at least the roads will be quiet!

I sense that the travel travails will be well worth the effort for what looks like a great event.

Cittadella, you WILL go the the ball!

I was going to talk about this Romanian Pinot Grigio “from Transylvania”, but like a lot of PG it is rather ordinary.  For the record it tasted a bit of grilled tomato with herbs.  La Cittadella came from the Sunday Times Wine Club in a “Crisp Refreshing Whites” mixed case for about £60.  I suppose I shouldn’t have opened a bottle of Cloudy Bay next, which did kind of eclipse this poor Dracula juice.

Meanwhile a big fangs to Rob, Gabriella and Ryan for the hard work organising the conference and I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Spanish wine tasting at Kro2, Manchester

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Twas the eve of the UEFA cup final when all through the house, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.  However, Scots and Russians littered the streets of Manchester and made a right old din too.  In fairness, Glasgow Rangers fans travel brilliantly and even though they lost the final (2-0) they remained in great spirit, and enormously friendly.

One of the advantages of writing a weblog is that on average it connects you to much more interesting people than, say, Facebook, or visiting a cup final.  Having previously conversed only in cyberspace, Rob kindly invited me to a wine tasting in Manchester.  I wasn’t about to say no to the opportunity to taste more wine, never mind meet a new face, so….erm….. I said yes.

The evening was jointly hosted by Kro2 bar, Dinastia Vivanco, Castillo de Clavijo, and Bibendum.

Wino's notes 


British blogs are rubbish…

Monday, May 26th, 2008

…at promoting themselves, but I still seek them out as often as I can.  Especially those that share my values, humour and, above all, pure enthusiasm for food and wine.  I find the content of most such British blogs to be informative, amusing, and interesting.

My latest find could equally well have been named Confessions of a Foodo, but in fact, the author chose the equally witty title Gastroplod.  I think her stomach is in Provence and her liver in Burgundy but her head is clearly in England.

Well worth a glance.