Archive - June, 2008

Wine, Food and The Muse

You may have experienced a different tone from the posts on this site recently. I have certainly felt the difference when trying to write posts. The main reason, I believe, is that I have not been drinking any wine (with one or two extremely minor exceptions) for the last few weeks because I may need to dash off to the local maternity ward at any moment, so need to be alert.

The excitement and stressful expectation of babies aside, I find that my Vinous Muse has decided to pack her bags and head off on a brief seaside holiday in the interim, and thus my motivation for passionate discourse has abated somewhat.

I’m considering setting myself, and anyone who cares to join in, a challenge: to spend a week eating and drinking ONLY (dinner) dishes & wine matches to be found on UK blogs

Even though I do not post tasting notes on the wines I drink, these wines do inspire me with questions, to do some research or elicit some sort of reaction, and without them I feel like I am missing out on something.

Not drinking, when I normally drink a glass or two most nights, is difficult enough, but not drinking and trying to write engaging content to inspire others to do so, is even more of a torture.

All will be resolved in the next few days (I hope) and normal service resumed.

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of wine drinkers again. I wondered whether it was just me that was really not interested in food & wine matching and tasting notes, or whether there were more of us? I totally understand why one would be interested in combining food & wine writing, but I have yet to be bitten by that bug.

I’m considering setting myself, and anyone who cares to join in, a challenge: to spend a week eating and drinking ONLY (dinner) dishes & wine matches to be found on UK blogs (it must be a blog!). It will require a lot more pre-planning and shopping than I’m used to, but it could be fun and I might learn to appreciate the art more.

Any suggestions on sites to use as sources gratefully appreciated. I already have my friends as Spittoon and Cooksister as inspiration. Any others?

(pictured: my attempt at food & wine matching)

The Wine Conversation a proud supporter of both the 2008 American Wine Bloggers Conference and European Wine Bloggers Conference

Thoughts on a European community

Gabriella asked me an interesting question regarding the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference yesterday. We have focused a lot on getting bloggers excited about the opportunity of the conference, but what do our READERS think about it? Why should THEY care?

Admittedly we have not clarified that point very much, although it has always been part of our thinking.

Ryan and Gabriella were kind enough to post my response on their site, which you probably already read, but just in case, check it out here:

Why Should Readers Care About the European Wine Blogger Conference?

“In my view, the most important goal of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference is to start a conversation between the European voices at this party. Readers in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, want to hear a familiar perspective on wine and one that is relevant to them.”

Blogger Profiles

In between posts on this site and my new Rioja blog at, I am also working hard with Ryan and Gabriella behind the scenes for the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference.

One of the great things we have managed to do already is get all sorts of different bloggers, 80% of which you have probably never heard about despite them having around 100,000 monthly unique readers between them, to write a short biography on the site.

If you read nothing else, check out some of the biographies here and get to know a little more about the kinds of people that create wine blogs.

There are plenty more to come between now and the event, and hopefully we will have everyone covered before the big day so we all have a chance to recognise each other at the event.

You can read the latest post here, which happens to be about me (including a nice photo taken by my wife yesterday of yours truly having ignored the razor – again).

Comedy, Love and Wine

If I may step down from my soapbox for a moment (I can hear your sighs of relief), I came across an interesting marketing concept only very recently.

[I tried to post about this yesterday, but their site was down, a technological hiccup that happens even to the largest companies as well as us little bloggers]

How to get younger people to learn about wine? One way is to combine it with theatre and comedy. I wish I had been able to do this when I was first learning about wine.

Hardy’s (they of the mega-corporation) have launched a campaign called One Love Since 1853. Part of the campaign is a series of events around the UK being run by Chris Scott of ThirtyFifty (an innovative wine retailer/educator in his own right) which they are calling “sip-along theatrical productions”.

The brief says:

Hardys, known for its straight talking, no nonsense approach to wine, has teamed up with ThirtyFifty to devise a world first in ‘educational entertainment’ – a series of interactive comedy shows to teach people everything they need to know about wine in just 30 minutes!

One of the jokes is that it takes 2 hours (according to the site) to learn “everything they need to know .. in 30 minutes”, so I hope the other hour and a half is spent putting that knowledge into practice!

It is too late in the day to join in as the audience had to request tickets in advance, but one show is happening tonight (19 June 2008) in Manchester and there is a final event in Bristol (26th of June).

There could be tickets left, you never know, so head over to their sites and find out, or if you did attend one of the shows, please let us know how it was and what you learned.

[Update: Click here to read Eating Leeds' review of this event]

Social Drunking

My last post despaired against law-makers for their approach to problem drinking.

I called upon them to think bigger thoughts and help shape a new common goal that might divert attention from day to day angst leading to binge drinking (oh, and help to save the planet in the process).

A couple of things have occurred to me since that post.

1. It will never happen. Such a movement will have to come from ‘me’/'us’, not ‘them’. [thanks to my lovely wife for reminding me of my previous thoughts about this topic. In my 'red mist' I got rather carried away with utopian dreams]

2. I’ve fallen, once again, into the trap of thinking others are “like me” – “I thinking” in Mark Earls’ excellent Herd Thinking work

I assume that others could/should think like me about alcohol (or anything) simply because I hold it to be true. But they don’t. However much I try and explain the error of their ways.

Are we the same? After all, I drink alcohol. Binge drinking kids and young adults drink alcohol.

No, the actual similarity is that we drink to socialise.

I drink to learn and explore, in the main. I like to share that knowledge gained with others who like wine in particular (I posted on this some months ago)

Those that are the target for this sort of legislation drink to socialise too, but alcohol, drinking to the point of drunkenness, is the objective of socialising, not as a subject to be explored. I have now seen this called “Social Drunking” – a great term for a sad state of affairs.

I found this presentation, courtesy of my friend Andrew (who knows a fair amount about this subject and helps to bring solid research to this debate, not just my ramblings), to be very enlightening. It is worth reading through it just to see how these 18-25 year-olds think about alcohol.

It would probably be unfair of me to point out that wine plays no part in their drinking (except for the one woman who mentions it in relation to ‘sensible’ drinking at home). All of those involved in alcohol have a shared responsibility to do something about this problem, but it could be that there is something about wine, or how it is perceived, that differentiates it and that could help us improve drinking habits.

I would point out, however, that price of alcohol, or availability from off licences did not figure at all.

I still think that learning about CONSEQUENCES, whether for our planet, through our wasteful consumption, or short-termist commercial thinking impacting on the sustainability of jobs and culture, would also have an effect on people’s attitudes to alcohol.

Certainly, one consequence of my own drinking is that I feel a responsibility to do something, however small, to try and encourage a sensible approach to alcohol – by young drinkers and legislators alike.

You never know!

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