Writing a new book: time to do some research

This week I had a new book commissioned. It’s one I have wanted to write for a while.

Entitled ‘I taste red’, it explores the interesting topic of the flavour of wine, and its perception. There is so much to explore here: taste, smell, perception, psychophysics, philosophy, synaesthesia, the language of wine, aesthetic appraisal, ratings, competitions, [...]

On going back, and beginnings and endings

Yesterday I went back to the building that I’d worked in for 15 years. It was for the Gonzalez Byass tasting, which was held at 41 Portland Place, an 18th Century Adam-style terrace that is now home to the Academy of Medical Sciences. I started working there – it was then another scientific charity, the [...]

Some lovely affordable bottles from the Co-operative

Tasted at the Co-op press tasting on Tuesday. Some nice affordable wines, and one slightly pricier bottle.

Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014 Uco valley, Mendoza, Argentina
14% alcohol. This unoaked Malbec is just so lovely and drinkable. It has a floral violet and blackcurrant nose with some black cherries. So pretty on the palate with pure cherry fruit. [...]

On reading

If you are relatively smart, then the world can be an unhappy place, particularly during the teenage years. Smart people stick out. Many people are suspicious of smartness, if indeed they can detect it in the first place. This raises the question: do you have to be smart to realize that someone else is smart? [...]

Consistency is desirable, but at what cost?

I had a conversation with a beer brewer recently. I asked him whether size was an advantage in brewing, in that having lots of shiny new kit might help you make better beer. His response was that it buys you consistency. He then went on a semi-rant about small London breweries in railway arches and [...]

Clayver: a new ceramic vessel for elevage

Picture courtesy Jarkko Peranen

I have just written up the wines of Candialle, a Chianti producer run by ex-pat Finnish winegrower Jarkko Peränen. He has been experimenting with a new vessel for fermenting and ageing wine, called Clayver.

First we had oak barrels, then concrete eggs, then back to terracotta, and now? Ceramic balls.

Jarkko has 10% of [...]

Young wine writers: be as brilliant as you can

Earlier today I wrote a deeply ironic blog post encouraging young wine writers not to be too smart, because this would upset potentially helpful established writers. Some people have interpreted this the wrong way and have taken it literally, which would of course make it out to be deeply cynical.

It’s clearly bad advice. Indeed, I [...]

Young wine writers: don't be too smart

One thing I have noticed, coming into wine writing from the outside, is that there’s generally a warm welcome for newcomers. Established wine writers are, in my experience, generally quite encouraging to newer, emerging voices. Up to a point. While there’s an enthusiasm for fresh faces, there’s also a reluctance to give up further slices [...]

On cycling

I have discovered cycling. Don’t worry: I’m not about to don lycra, spend thousands of pounds on a racing bike, and start posting (boasting?) my Strava stats on social media. It’s just that I have discovered the pleasure that cycling can bring. Suddenly, on two wheels, any journey is fun.

I have my new Finnish friends [...]

Single critic opinions or panel tastings? Which is the best?

Yesterday Tim Atkin released his South African wine report. It’s created quite a bit of discussion, and it’s also raised once again for me the question of single critics versus panel tastings. Which is the best?

Tim has worked very hard tasting a lot of wines, as do the competing critics from the big publications such [...]