Archive for Opinion

The Night I Forgot To Bring Wine (Again)

My mother, Margaret, died last December after complications from Alzheimer’s following a broken hip operation. Watching her decline has been truly awful, as anyone who has seen a loved one cruelly fade through dementia knows. I wrote this in 2016, when she was still able to enjoy a little bit of wine. It was meant to be a lighthearted piece about drinking the cheaper more commercial stuff, and trying to keep in touch with reality. I just couldn’t post it at the time. Now, I see it as a fond memory of how an average bottle can become quite special when it creates a connection with someone you love.



I’ve done it again. I’ve arrived at my mum’s house without wine. (more…)

Wine In The Time Of Guidelines

Hello, my name’s Paola and I’m a peddler of death. I have a licence – to kill. Entering my shop could seriously harm your health.

An exaggeration, of course. But, if you’re in wine retail, like me, it does feel a bit like, following the new government drinking guidelines.

My fears of a future where the windows of wine shops will have to be covered up, and all wine labels utilitarian, may not seem so outlandish after all. (more…)

All The Wine Blog Posts I Didn’t Write

The role of the wine blogger is something the industry loves to debate. As someone who entered the wine industry late, it’s quite startling to see how much energy is expended on the topic, often by other writers themselves.

The latest misdeed getting everyone’s knickers in a twist (mine included, obviously) is whether bloggers have an obligation to write about wineries who wine and dine them, a response by ex-critic and now blogger Steve Heimoff to an article in trade magazine Harpers accusing bloggers of bad behaviour if they didn’t write anything after visiting a winery who’d paid for their trip.

“In other descriptions of commerce, a one-way transfer of value could also be called ‘theft’,” opined Dr. Damien Wilson, who leads the MSc Wine Business programme at the Burgundy School of Business.

It seems *gasp* that wineries are just like any other client who has spent a bit of money on PR and expects coverage as a result. If you want guaranteed coverage, pay for advertising. (more…)

Give Me Wine, Italian Style

Let me share with you one of my fantasies.

Easy tiger, I don’t mean that sort…

I mean what I’d really like to do when I grow up.  Which is: own a wine shop.

Not a corner off licence punting J.P. Chenet and Echo Falls like there was no tomorrow. Nor a stuffy upmarket affair frequented by red trouser-clad, Claret-swilling captains of industry whose idea of adventure is trying a Burgundy. (more…)

A Navarra Ending Story

Before I went to a recent Wines of Navarra tasting, my thoughts were as follows: wines from this region are approachable, made primarily from Garnacha (Grenache) and Tempranillo, and great value compared to neighbouring Rioja. Oh, and they make a lot of rosado (rosé).

Circling the tables in London’s bijou Bar Pepito, though, I felt a lot less confident about summing up Navarra’s wines so neatly. (more…)

Take It To The Ridge

Thirty-five years ago it used to really matter that your wine tasted French, even if it had been made thousands of miles away. Like in California.

This point was proved in the so-called Judgement of Paris in 1976, when – in a blind wine tasting – a Californian red and white beat two top French wines: a Château Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac and a Domaine Roulot Meursault Charmes.

“Last week in Paris… the unthinkable happened: California defeated all Gaul,” wrote Time journalist George Taber. Just those few words, in a four-paragraph scoop, shook the wine world to its core. (more…)

My Two-Penneth On Cheap Wine

When the editor of Decanter magazine had the temerity to suggest that “it’s pretty impossible to get a decent wine at £3.99 or £4.99” he was accused by Asda of being a snob. And if you look at the comments below his Guardian article, Asda were not the only people to take umbrage.

Much more has been said in defence of Guy Woodward’s comments – my favourite being from Anthony Rose in The Independent. Touché.


PG Tips: I Give A Monkey’s

Falanghina is the grape di giorno dontcha know. You can’t move for a wine writer waxing lyrical about how wonderful wine made from this grape is for hot summer days.

“Drink this instead of Pinot Grigio” they say, referring to the Northern Italian style of wine made from the grape known everywhere else as Pinot Gris. (more…)

You’ve Come A Long Way Baby

Back in the early nineties, when I worked in radio, we had a local wine producer on our show. I forget the name now. But I do remember being surprised because the wine tasted quite nice. Light, floral and drinkable – not the cough mixture I imagined.

Sadly, two decades on, this is still the default position of many Brits, despite English wine coming on leaps and bounds in terms of quality and levels of production. (more…)

Every Good Girl Deserves Faiveley

Bordeaux or Burgundy wine: Which do you prefer?

I found myself pondering this really inconsequential weighty question when I was invited to a tasting and dinner with Burgundy producer Domaine Faiveley – the very week the Bordeaux en primeur circus hit London.