First impressions matter, with people and with wine

First impressions count. I’m increasingly convinced of this.

The first line of a novel. It matters more than it should.

The first time you meet someone: this is particularly important.

The first impression you give when you meet someone – those first few seconds – then create the filter through which all subsequent interactions are processed. Some people [...]

What is greatness in a wine?

What is greatness in a wine? This was the subject of a session at the Pinot Noir symposium, where we were encouraged to discuss this question among ourselves. These are some of my thoughts.

We’re entering the realm of aesthetics here. Greatness is not simply one person’s preference. Nor is greatness the notion that a simple [...]

On dentists and teeth

I had a problem. I woke up on Saturday with a nagging ache in my mouth, towards the back, at the left. It wasn’t the sharp pain you’d normally associate with toothache, but it hurt, and when I bit down on the last molar, it was very uncomfortable.

Oh well, I thought, it will go away. [...]

Two affordable Grüner Veltliners

I’m a big fan of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s specialist grape variety. Here are two easily available, affordable examples that deliver some of the personality of this grape.

Domaine Wachau Weissenkirchen Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2015 Wachau, Austria
£10.99 Majestic, £9.89 mix six price
12.5% alcohol
This is nicely aromatic with floral citrus fruits, coupled with some trademark white pepper that’s [...]

Ego is the death to good wine writing

Good writing is all about narrative, we are told. When you go to a wine region, find the stories, and tell them. It’s good advice.

But there’s a danger facing wine writers looking too intently for a story.

If they are not careful, their pieces become more about them than they do the region they are visiting. [...]

On pens and writing

I have decided to resurrect my ink pens, which have been a bit neglected of late. Instead, I’ve taken the easy option and used Uni-ball Eye Fine pens, which are pretty good and very easy to write with, but they aren’t ink pens.

There’s something special about writing long hand. It’s massively inefficient. You’d think it [...]

Wines of the year (1) Instagram favourites

How do you decide which your favourite wines were from the year past? Difficult.

One way is to let others decide. I have quite a few instagram followers, and it’s interesting to see which wines that I post are the most popular.

There are lots of confounders here. If I post a nice picture that looks good [...]

Oh, the places you'll go! 2016 in review

January: the year began in New Zealand, for a South Island Road trip, followed by the Sauvignon Blanc celebration. We started off in Central Otago, where it was unseasonably cold. Rippon is pictured above.

North Canterbury provided some highlights. including Pyramid Valley (above) and Bell Hill (below).

February saw the Professional Wine Writers’ Symposium in Napa, California. [...]

The ill-health of wine writing

It’s not been a great year for wine writing. Several fellow writers have lost their newspaper columns and regular gigs. It has been particularly tough for those who rely solely on writing for their living; for many like me who have had quite a good year, it has been the lecturing, judging, consulting, presenting and [...]

On being ill

I’m currently ill. This is unusual for me: I can’t remember the last time.

Of course, I haven’t seen a doctor. I’m male and British, and we tend not to visit doctors unless we are clearly dying. I’m not dying [I think, and hope]. I have a really bad chest and I’m coughing a lot, and [...]