The Tesco press tasting was held today, on a fruit day (according the biodynamic calendar). The wines tasted pretty good, and I found plenty that will end up in my Sunday Express column. It’s important for wine drinkers in the UK that major retailers such as Tesco do a good job, because they dominate the off-trade. But of today’s line-up of 130 wines out of a much larger range, many were also present at the last press tasting. The result is that we press only get to try a subsection of what punters are actually buying. It would be interesting to try the 100-best-selling wines from the Tesco range.
I also had to file my US tax return today. The advance for my next book, Natural Wine, was paid from the USA (University of California Press). They witheld 30% for US tax, which I don’t have to pay as a non-resident alien paying tax in the UK. To get this back, I had to file a US tax return, with form W7 attached which gets me an ITIN (individual tax identification number). Reading up about this on the IRS website, I was worried that it could involve jumping through quite a few official hoops and be pretty time-consuming.
So I trekked over to the IRS office at the US embassy expecting to stand in line for ages. It actually turned out to be very straightforward. The IRS office was quiet, I got seen straight away, they authenticated the copy of my passport photo page (which meant I didn’t have to part with my passport, or pay to get a notarized copy), they helped out with filling in the return, and I filed it directly with them. Result.
The US embassy website says that you aren’t allowed to bring in any electrical items, such as mobile phones or PDAs. So I left my phone and laptop at home. It felt strange to spend a day without both of these: I felt a bit naked, and yet also a little liberated. Such devices increase productivity, but they also enslave us. I suppose it’s all about balance.