“Every wine tells a story”. Not your boring old wine book…

I’m now officially an “international wine expert”. That’s what it says on the cover of  Tara Devon O’Leary’s new book, “Every wine tells a Story”. Well, it doesn’t name me directly on the cover but I was one of the contributors for Tara’s book and I’m very excited to see my name in a book ( and no, my high school yearbook, doesn’t count). When Tara asked me to write a short post about my favourite wine experience of the year, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I get to do so many fun things with and around wine that it was hard for me to pin down a ‘favourite experience’ but try I did and came up with the video that Eat Like a Girl and I made last year. You know, the one where I’m dressed up as a gorilla. Tara got 28 other wine pros, not only based in London but also from around the world. She has everyone from Steven Spurrier, renowned wine consultant and write to Assaf Dudai, who writes for the latest I-Phone wine app, Haidu to contribute their stories. It was fun to read about everyone’s vinous adventures and occasional mishaps. Whether it was red wine or white wine, sparkling or sweet, practically every wine style you can think of is in there. I’m sure Tara’s book is going to be a bestseller, how could it not be with such stellar contributors? You can find out more on FB here, buy the book from Lulu.com or read up on the contributors here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Whining about wineblogging:What’s the Point?

I got a comment recently that I found quite amusing. Seems another wineblogger was taking me to task for attending an event sponsored by a wine company, enjoying it and writing a fun post about it. What I think he’s missing is that wineblogging has evolved. It’s about more than a wine review,  it’s about the enjoyment of wine, sharing my own personal opinion of the wine, the experiences and the stories surrounding it. Wine is still perceived as very intimidating by most people. I hope to help people connect with a wine and putting a story and/or a face behind the wine makes it that much less scary and that much more enjoyable . It’s also about being involved with other bloggers and the blogging community, it’s  about a conversation between like-minded people and being part of a community. My blog is about  my experiences with wine, what I think of it and the lifestyle that goes with it. It’s normal and indeed industry practice for journalists to attend industry sponsored events. And write about them.  Why should things be different for bloggers? Sure this is controlled, but I choose the events that I go to, choosing those that specifically  interest me and that will be interesting for people to read. Let’s face it, if I started writing rubbish, well then noone would read my blog. And that has not been the case. I love what I am doing, so much so that I left my job in the wine industry to become a poorly paid freelance wine blogger so that I could immerse myself fully in this new career. And why not? My finances (well most peoples finances) wouldn’t normally allow me to attend as many events or trips as I do but as everyone in the wine (food, hospitality, etc)  business knows, that’s why there are such things as press trips and events sponsored by wineries, samples, etc., to bring the world of wine to my readers who are most likely cash rich but time poor. The...

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Diemersfontein pinotage

Jun 09, 10 Diemersfontein pinotage

Posted by in South Africa

Lately, I’ve been drinking some very good South African wine. S.A. wines used to be my whipping boy of wines. To say I was not a fan would be an understatement. I don’t know if it’s because of the World Cup or maybe it’s just we’re now getting better S.A. wines here in England but whatever it is, I’m pleased by the result. Diemersfontein Wines is known as one of the best pinotage producers around. We met owner David Sonneberg at the Le Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly to taste his pinotages as well as his other red and white wines. David says pinotage is like Marmite, either you love it or you hate it. I love Marmite but I’ve never quite gotten around to liking pinotage. Pinotage is uniquely South African, developed there by a professor who wanted a grape that could withstand the South African climate. He crossed cinsault and pinot noir to come up with pinotage. We tried the Diemersfontein 2007 pinotage and the 2009 pinotage. David’s pinotages are different from the rest in that he aims to produce pinotages that have chocolate and coffee flavours and aromas. He came onto the scene in 2001 with his pinotage and that flavour profile has gained his pinotages quite a following.  I quite liked the 2007 pinotage. Give a wine a bit of age and it can do wonders for it. This pinotage while still showing some smoky coffee, had loads of cherries and blueberries, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate to it with lots of nice round tannins at work. Finally a pinotage that didn’t make me instantly wrinkle my nose as soon as I smelled it. Pinotage is often accused of having burnt, pongy flavours and while David’s wines did not have a pongy character to them, the 2009 was overpoweringly smoky. Give this one a few years to mellow out. Of his whites, the best was certainly the Diemersfontein 2008 chenin blanc. Chenin is another varietal that South Africa seems to be...

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A wine lunch with 8 guys and one woman (that’d be me)

The wine trade in general is quite male dominated but it didn’t really hit me until I was invited to have lunch with John Duval, ex-Penfold’s,winemaker of Grange, at Apsleys in the Lanesborough Hotel, Central London to taste his wines from his latest venture with Ventisquero wines of Chile. I was, um, slightly late so imagine my surprise when I turned up to lunch and seeing as I was the last one there, seated at the top of the table with a total of 8 fellows seated on either side of me. But whatever, I rolled with it and after settling in and having a glass of sauvignon blanc poured for me, while not commandeering the conversation, was at the very least holding my own, thank you very much. But it did make me stop and think, why aren’t more women involved in wine blogging? Sure you have you’re Jancis Robinson and Natalie McClean but neither classify as bloggers and Natalie lives and writes in America. I know wine is intimidating to many, many people but there are certainly plenty of male wine bloggers out there so why so few women? It was one question all the men at lunch asked me and one which I am frankly not sure how to reply. Is it because we women don’t like to voice our opinions?!?! I hardly think that is the answer but if not, then what? Is it the prospect of voicing an opinion about wine to men that makes us women a bit gun shy, as another female friend suggested? Perhaps it’s a lack of European wine bloggers in general (I am writing this from my home in London)? Vinography,  an often thought provoking American wine blog -written by a man, asked recently, why are there not more European wine bloggers? Is it a cultural thing? Or perhaps, women are just too busy juggling all other aspects of their lives to devote the time and energy needed to write a wine blog. Of...

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A case study and responses to BYOB in London

When I put out my little post asking why there wasn’t more BYOB in London, little did I know what a reaction I’d get! I seemed to have tapped into a wellspring of  discontent with the state of restaurant winelists and the ridiculously high markups that it seems many restaurants enforce. The response was incredible. Both via comments on my blog and via people tweeting me. Many people commented that if restaurants allowed BYOB that they would be more inclined to go out. Coincidentally, the day after I posted that questions, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing how restaurants in San Francisco are now doing away with the corkage fee altogether in an effort to attract customers (and it looks like it’s working). My Aussie readers were incredulous that London establishments did not allow BYOB, it being almost universal in Australia. The wine trade weighed in as well, commenting that perhaps restaurants had gotten too greedy. Many don’t seem to have realized that we no longer live in the boom years of the last century and should change their policies accordingly. I also got plenty of recommendations for restaurants that I had neglected to add to the list. Check out the comment section of the BYOB post to view the recommendations. I also heard back from various restaurants and one in particular (Kitchen W8) wrote to me with their experience of BYOB in London. I’m publishing it here because I think it really does show that not only customers but also restaurants can benefit greatly from a BYOB policy. What Kitchen W8 wrote about their BYOB experiment in Nov. 09: BYO returns in January 2010   We had a phenomenal success with our BYO offer in November. All manner of interesting wines were brought in, with many an intriguing story attached  to the bottles drunk. There was a fair amount of bottle sharing amongst different tables and very generous tastes being offered to both our staff and other customers. Of course, there was a large...

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