Author Archive


Because I’m All About Value


So, buying a bottle of wine in the UK has just got more expensive.

What to do?

a) Trade down – which could mean more goes on tax. Producer Gavin Quinney has calculated that half of what you spend on a £6 bottle of wine is tax.

b) Drink less, but better – something your doctor would approve of, no doubt.

c) Get more savvy about wines that offer more bang for your buck – such as those from Languedoc-Roussillon in South-West France.

Lying almost between its more famous neighbours of Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon offers real diversity, not just because of the wide variety of grapes grown there but also the different terrains under vine in this large region. (more…)

Koshu Can Match White With Lamb


I won’t beat about the bush. There’s a lot of crap spoken about food and wine matching.

On the one hand, there are people who stick doggedly to rules. No red wine with fish. No white wine with beef. Ever. No matter what cut, or how it’s served.

In turn, this causes the polar opposite. Drink what you want, all food and wine matching is rubbish.

I’m not going to argue with the drink what you want bit. Why drink something you don’t like?

But if you believe all food and wine matching is nonsense, please do tell me how fabulous you think a glass of  young, tannic Médoc is with a piece of salty Roquefort.

The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. (more…)

The Port House


A few weeks back, I asked the great and the good on Twitter if they knew of any places that sold flights of Port in London.

I knew of bars where I could buy a series of small measures of different types of Sherry. For Port, though, the only option seemed to be by the normal-sized glass, and usually one style on offer only. Two if you were lucky.

I got some replies. None bore fruit.

But that has all changed with the opening of the aptly-named The Port House, tucked away amongst the monolithic buildings in The Strand. (more…)

Relight My Sauvignon Fire


The British love affair with Sauvignon Blanc continues apace.

According to new figures from analysts Nielsen, the pungent pleaser has caught up with Pinot Grigio as the best-selling white wine in UK shops. New Zealand has to take much of the credit – or blame, depending on your point of view.

A bumper 2008 harvest resulted in a flooding of the market at low prices of New Zealand wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc. While many consumers couldn’t believe their luck, this ubiquity caused some people (i.e. me) to be, well, rude about its cookie cutter uniformity of shouty aromas and fruit pastille textures.

It seems that producers in Marlborough, the epicentre of Kiwi Sauvignon, are waking up to this. (more…)

It Was A Very Good Year


You can’t deny there’s something very special about tasting a wine from the year of your birth. Especially when you get to my age.

As I don’t come from the sort of family that lays down wine at the birth of a child, opportunities to taste bottles from 1963 are rare.

So, you can imagine the thrill of getting the chance to taste a Vintage Port from that year at a tutored tasting held by Fonseca.

1963 may not have been the vintage of the century for Fonseca – 1927, 1948, 1977 and 1994 were the true stars – but it is still considered by the company as one of the greats. And not just because Adrian Bridge, CEO of  The Fladgate Partnership (which owns Fonseca) was also born that year – as was his wife Natasha, who is head blender. (more…)

Wine And Food Matching Aussie-Style


Take one Australian winemaker. Add a generous splash of celebrity chef (and fellow Aussie). Mix together. And what do you get?

The Neil McGuigan and John Torode Recipe Collection, a new food and wine matching venture that caters to people’s personal tastes rather than gives prescriptive choices.

“Both John and I believe there is a lack of confidence in many consumers. They’re too afraid they’re going to make a mistake,” Neil tells us at a press event in London. “We’ve taken the snob factor out.”

Their solution is for John to come up with 50 recipes and Neil to match three wines to every one of those dishes. Why three? Because nobody’s palate is the same. (more…)

Not Just For The Dowager Duchess


“This is as crazy and monstrous as Madeira wine can be,” exclaims wine writer Rui Falcão, leading a tutored tasting in London organised by the Madeira Wine Institute.

In our glasses is a vintage Madeira from 1977, made by one of the island’s handful of producers, Pereira d’Oliveira, from the rarely-grown Terrantez grape.

Instantly, all my perceptions of Madeira as a genteel, old-fashioned tipple fly out the window. This is simply thrilling. Like hearing the Sex Pistols for the first time after listening to the Osmonds. (more…)

Anything But Champagne


I love Champagne. Don’t get me wrong. Just not ALL Champagne. Just not all the time.

For me, any brand emotion is quickly negated when I sip another glass of indifferent acid with bubbles like ball bearings because “it was on offer”.

Give me a glass of interesting, anytime. You can choose from the list below… (more…)

All I Want For Christmas…


Dear Santa,

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. OK, it’s been several decades. But, hey, who’s counting?

Anyway, you did me proud all those years ago. A doll every year. Imagine! Even when I started cutting their hair off, you still sent me a doll the following year. Albeit with short hair which was, frankly, a bit boring. Nothing to cut off, see?

Nevertheless, I am turning to you once again after Mr. SipSwoosh declared he didn’t know what to get me for Christmas. Well, he did have a plan to buy me a copy of  the wine geek’s new bible, Wine Grapes. But I got there first. (more…)

A Recipe… Of Sorts


No, you haven’t stumbled onto the wrong site. SipSwooshSpit is still about wine. Mostly.

But, if you love wine then, generally, you love food (though that doesn’t always seem to work the other way). So forgive me if I take a food moment and capture in recipe form a dish I made up the other day. Inspired by flavours I know work together. Perhaps not that original – I don’t claim it to be (see my post on partridges).

If I were on Masterchef, I’d no doubt be banging on about “my twist on a classic French dish” or something.

However, I’m not. I am simply answering a couple of requests for a recipe. The measurements are a rough guide only. The recipe has been tested only once… (more…)