Wine and rugby
Went to the rugby yesterday, courtesy of Pernod Ricard's wine division. Tim Atkin and Oz Clarke were also there (pictured), and we had a very jolly time.
I've not been to see a six nations international at Twickenham before, and it was a great occasion. It may not look much of a stadium from the outside, but inside it is fantastic, and the way the 82 000 fans are packed together creates an excellent atmosphere.
It's hard to explain exactly why, but rugby crowds are very different to football crowds. They don't sing as much, and there's no segregation of fans, but when noise is made it has a deeper, more resonant quality to it. The anthems at the beginning of the game are particularly moving, sung by fans and players alike. I should add that Ireland have a much better anthem than England: ours is a bit sterile and polite; theirs is melodic and heartfealt. I guess the atmosphere thing is also because rugby as a game is much more of a battle. It has a primeval quality: as you see the teams line up at the start, it's fifteen strong men against fifteen strong men. Courage, determination and bravery are needed.
The game itself was a good one, with England putting in a solid performance after a very shaky start. Afterwards, I met up with brother-in-law Cliff who'd come over from Geneva to see the game with his brother-in-law Justin. We went into Twickenham and had a pint at the White Swan, and then another at the Eel Pie before returning home for some curry. Twickenham after a match is a pretty bustling, buzzy place - it's very good natured, too, with opposing fans mingling happily.
So, some wine talk. Pernod Ricard poured some nice wines before the game, including a crisp Brancott Sauvignon from Montana, Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling and Centenary Hill Shiraz, and a new red wine from Wyndham, a super-premium Cab/Shiraz blend called George Wyndham. They have a decent wine portfolio these days, although I felt I should have been drinking beer, not wine, before rugby. It's a tough life, this wine writing lark.
Tomorrow I'm doing a talk at the UK Vineyards Association symposium in Oxford. I'm going to be speaking about natural wine and the role of wine science.