The Bottle of Wine

Many thanks to reader Tim for sending me this little gem, which is for all of us who are married, were married, wish we were married or wish we weren’t married, this is something to smile about next time you see a bottle of wine:

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.    As the car trip was long and a quiet one she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she wanted a ride.  With a silent nod of thanks the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey Sally tried to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman.   The old woman just sat silently looking intently at everything she saw until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

‘What in bag?’ asked the old woman.

Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, ‘It’s a bottle of wine.   I got it for my husband.’

The Navajo woman was silent for a moment or two.  Then, speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder she said:

‘Good trade….’

Perfect Wine Glass

This weekends fabulous weather allowed us to enjoy every meal outside on the terrace – and I can’t recall when we last did that, in Hong Kong, or here in the UK.

Needless to say, each meal was accompanied by a variety of wines and on Sunday the talk turned to the perfect wine glass.   Those in the know favour Riedel – the shape of the glass really does make a difference to how it tastes – but as long as said receptacle is of sufficient size to accommodate the wine and room for it to breath I’m usually happy.

The perfect wine glass was proposed – I think by the Fisherman – as a glass with a bottle for a stem… and Shivs found the photo:


Wine Week

An interesting week at work, with overseas visitors and hence evening functions.   Our workaholic big boss does enjoy a decent dinner and bottle of wine after a full day.   Which is nice.

Dinners have included Chateau Talbot 1997, Cos D’Estournel 1988, a 2000 Soliaia and a 1998 Brunello Di Montalcino.

Thank heavens he does not visit too regularly – my liver could not handle it.

But I’d try.

Smith and Wollenski’s

I’m in NY for a week’s business, so posts will likely be less frequent and heavily feature restaurant reviews as we will be ‘entertained’ most nights by our US colleagues.

Last night we went to Smith and Wollenski’s, the famous steakhouse in mid-town Manhattan.  These big ‘chain’ restaurants all follow a familiar theme.  Average to rude service, average to poor food, pretty good ambience and very average wine lists.

Last night was as expected, save for the wine, which was good.   A long list – entirely US of course – with a reasonable price spread and some with a (little) age.   We settled on a 1999 Lorca Petite Syrah from Napa.   What a surprise.   Huge fruit, good deep colour, high alcohol at 14.2%, very dry and still tannic, it had a few more years in it for sure.

It was so good we had to have a second bottle.   Well, it’s the best way I know of to deal with the jet lag.

Website of the day

Apparently on the Steve Wright in the afternoon show on Radio 2, Miles Mendoza (one of his studio sidekicks) has a feature called ‘Website of the Day’.    Shivs sent this to me today…

It’s well worth checking out.   The premise is a the site is run by a chap in his 30’s and he seems to travel a lot.   And drink a too.   He records all the wine he drinks, where it is drunk and he rates it accordingly.   No fancy descriptions, just a simple star rating and comment.

Brilliant.   Wish I’d thought of it!

Friday 13th – Bollinger Record broken

Following on from my post on Friday about celebrating Friday 13th’s with Bollinger champagne, I have a report from Special Correspondent San Fran Sean on the events in the London Wine Bar that night:

It was absolute chaos and tremendous fun!!!… All I know is we had 70 champagne glasses and they were all being used…


I arrived about 6.15pm and the place was crowded… then my mates behind the bar started clapping and cheering and everybody else joined in… it was a trifle embarrassing…


Opened the 1st bottle of Bollinger at 6.30pm… rapidly followed by bottles 2-10!!!!… Then the 1st magnum… I was so busy pouring champagne… I have never been hugged and kissed by so many strange women!!!!… I don’t think it was me… must have been the Bollinger…


At 10pm my mate Gary (owner of the London Wine Bar) informed me we had just poured the 51st bottle… the record from Hong Kong was 52…


I opened a magnum which made it 52 and 53… a new record… we carried on to a final count of 52 regular bottles and 5 magnums (1.5L bottles)… The 5 magnums will all be signed and go up on the wall to join the other 186 magnums surrounding the entire bar…


The new Friday 13th World Record is now 62 bottles of Bollinger set at the London Wine Bar in San Francisco on January Friday 13th 2006…


Needless to say, the rules were adhered to… although… We didn’t run out of Bollinger… I didn’t run out of money… and I didn’t expire… We actually ran out of people!!!!

Wonderful.   So remember, next Friday 13th, have a bottle of Bolly.   Or two.

A Quiet Little Drink and The Shopping List

Quiet Little Drinks – QLD’s to some – are always the most dangerous. Last evening, full of good intentions, I headed to Chuzzlewits for a glass of wine with a couple of colleagues, ideally to tee me up to face going into Safeway’s before heading home for a nice nicoise and a bit of telly.

Naturally the evening did not go according to plan and one bottle Dancing Sun, Sauvignon Blanc turned into two, three four and inevitably, five. We had one of those evenings of rambling conversation and the quantity of Dancing Sun has diluted some of the memory this morning, but I did promise myself I would post the bit about the shopping list.

Not my shopping list you understand, really not very exciting: milk, orange juice, washing powder, light bulb, salad, tuna and some new potatoes, but Henry’s. Henry had the best shopping list I have ever seen and, whilst I am not really an expert on these things I do think it is worth sharing. Henry’s list was: 6. Yup. 6. It did in fact have a line underneath in order to differentiate it from 9. There was no actual food on the list, just a number and for those of you not resident in the UK I can confirm that there is no food on sale called 6.

So. What on earth does it mean. Easy peasy said Henry, 6 refers to only things he drinks: milk, orange juice, vodka, diet coke, water and club soda.

On that note I had a horrible feeling we ordered our 6th bottle of Dancing Sun.

Damn the vintage, just pass the pinot!

This is a great article from the Guardian – a lefty rag which I never read.. but for one moment, sod the politics and enjoy a bit of simple prejudice…

A drinking woman’s guide to wine
Polly Vernon

I was so very glad to hear that women are fuelling the new boom in UK wine sales.
Having contributed to the spiralling sales figures substantially, I was hardly amazed by the news that me and my sort downed nearly 600 million bottles of fermented grape last year (compared to the paltry 400 million consumed by our male equivalents).

But I was definitely gratified by the indisputably official nature of the stats. This is because I believe that wine is the rightful property of the ladies. Never mind Sideways. Never mind ’emotional connections with Pinot’. Never mind that the vast majority of vintners and tasters and sommeliers are men.

Men spoil wine. They take it too seriously. They want to master it. They want to dress it up in mystery and tradition, and imbue it with intrinsic maleness so that they can be superior about it. Men reach a certain age – 34 or so – and stop thinking they know how to play the guitar, or how to DJ, and start thinking instead that they ‘know’ wine.

They stop default-ordering the House option in restaurants, and start asking for ‘the list’. They start thinking stuff is corked. They start believing that creating a big fat scene about the suspected corking, will prove how jolly Alpha and male they are. They hold forth at length about how they despise Pinot Grigio because it’ doesn’t taste of anything much’.

Men don’t understand that wine is not about this. Wine is actually just for the drinking, and for the being drunk. That’s why it was invented.

Men want to take the joy out of wine, and replace it with snobbery, superciliousness, and another opportunity for sexism. Women, on the other hand, just want to drink it until they feel like singing Wichita Lineman, crying, and/or texting someone they shouldn’t. There now follows a thinking girl’s guide to buying, drinking and properly enjoying wine.

1) When choosing a bottle, ask yourself the following questions: – red or white? (Your response will be primarily influenced by how badly red stains your teeth) – should it cost more than six quid in a shop, £12 in a bar? (Yes, probably. There’s not being snobby, which we approve of, but there’s also being tight, which we definitely don’t approve of) – does it have a funny name, something that you can make increasingly slurry jokes about over the course of an evening? (I like the Californian Tierra Area for this, because it sounds like Tina Arena who sang Chains, which I too like to sing when under the influence, along with You’re So Vain and, of course, Wichita Lineman.)

2) Three ‘new standard’ 175ml glasses qualify as an official binge drink. I support binge drinking as a statement of post-feminist empowerment, so you should see this as an aim, rather than a limit.

3) A lady will always get more drunk if she goes for ‘just one’, than if she accepts she’s there for the long haul. This is because Just One-ers turn down offers of stomach-lining chips and hummus dips on arriving at bars, on the basis that they’re ‘about to get a bus at any moment’. They’re not.

4) Vodka removes red wine stains from off-white sofas, carpets, and lovely eau de nil jersey cocktail dresses much more effectively than either salt or soda water.

5) There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking either Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. They’re both very pleasant but were cast out to the hinterlands of fashionable drinking by men because ladies liked them, which instantly made men think they couldn’t be good. It’s time to reclaim them.

6) Same applies to rosé. Men think it’s crap, because it’s pink. It’s actually distilled essence of very nice summer holiday.

7) Sea sickness pills ease hangovers.

8) This summer’s wedge is a good wine-drinking shoe. It has flattering, calf-elongating properties, and provides useful stability that standard high heels do not.

9) It is not at all bad to pop out for a last-minute bottle of Wednesday Night Red, dressed only in pyjama bottoms, Uggs and a Parka. Au contraire, it is charming, devil-may-care and rather French. Boyfriends who say, ‘You look a bit mental,’ are wrong.

10) Wine is not an intellectual pursuit. It is for fun.