63 Pall Mall: the exciting new wine shop from Berry Bros & Rudd

On Friday I went to the press tasting of high-end London retailer Berry Bros & Rudd, and it proved to be a great chance to check out their new retail outlet at 63 Pall Mall.

Previously, Berry Bros had a small retail space at 3 St James’ Street, which has been in operation since 1698. This [...]

On the need for recognition and approval

I remember that as a child I loved creating things. I spent hours drawing: pencils, felt-tip pens, and even drawing ink. I also loved sculpting things out of plasticine (famously used by Nick Park in his animated features) and clay. But each time I did something new, I needed it to be endorsed by someone [...]

More thoughts on flying, and laptop bans

Just back from California, my first trip in a few weeks. Back into the swing of long haul flying.

I enjoy being on a plane, most of the time. It’s a nice space to think, to do some writing, and also to watch bad movies. Now that there’s entertainment on a plane, people have stopped trying [...]

Self versus non-self: on wine becoming part of us

One of the questions that has interested brain scientists and philosophers alike is that of self versus non-self. How do we distinguish what is part of us, versus what is part of the environment?

This sounds like a trivial question. When I see my hand move, I know it is part of me. That’s obvious. But [...]

Discussing sweet wines, with notes on 18 interesting bottles

Sweet wines aren’t all that fashionable, but they are delicious. The best sweet wines are among the most complex and concentrated expressions of the vine possible, and in past times they occupied the pinnacle of the fine wine tree. We’ve kind of neglected them of late, partly because in these alcohol-consumption-conscious days we seldom manage [...]

Half way in the International Wine Challenge

Week one of this second tranche of the 2017 International Wine Challenge is over. Except for the crew, that is: they have to stay the weekend doing the immense job of reflighting all the thousands of wines that have made the cut into week two.

When we get back to the Oval on Tuesday, we’ll be [...]

Beginning two weeks judging at the International Wine Challenge

I’m on my way to day 2 of the second tranche of the International Wine Challenge judging at the Oval. For two weeks we will be sifting through an unspecified number of wines (the number isn’t publicized because otherwise the two major competitions get sucked into a ratings war, but it’s in the range of [...]

Who decides the news agenda? The Internet?

A small story becomes a big story because of the Internet. The recent media frenzy over a passenger being removed from an overbooked United flight has been interesting to watch.

Back in the day, news rooms decided on the merits of a story. The editor edited. Now, the Internet can decide that a story is news [...]

Some profound(?) thoughts prompted by this Loire trip

Terroir is a creative act between people and a place. Terroir only exists in the context of a wine, and wine is a creative act as a winegrower seeks to interpret their place through choices they make in viticulture and winemaking.

Drinking wine is itself a creative act. We are given a sensory theme, and we [...]

The ultimate vodka martini at Dukes

After Friday’s lunch at Berry Bros & Rudd, Douglas Blyde persuaded Katherine Houston and I that we needed a vodka martini at Dukes. He was right. This was the best vodka martini possible, prepared by Alessandro Palazzi with his famous trolley service. Dukes, a grand old hotel in Mayfair, is described as the spiritual home [...]