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Live wine tasting – postponed [updated]

De Long's Wine Tasting Notebook
Image by RobWinton via Flickr

If you were trying to find out what happened to today’s planned fun “blind tasting” that I had promised, I’m afraid it has had to be postponed.

Twitter is currently down, apparently knocked to the canvas by a denial of service attack, but I’m confident normal service will be resumed later.

Unfortunately I have to leave the office soon, so maybe we can reschedule for another day soon – I had a cracking wine to taste too!

[UPDATE 07 August 2009: It happened! If you missed it, check out the archived video of the second live wine tasting]

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Wine, Oil & Vinegar

Is there something intrinsically “Italian” about a website built in Italy like there is something uniquely Italian about the country’s wines (beyond the obvious language issue of course)?

I don’t think so. However, there might be something uniquely Italian about how a problem is addressed and solved. For example, I’m attending a “wine” conference in Genoa, and amongst the 20 or so speakers at yesterday’s “unconference” were two olive oil producers and a producer of wonderful balsamic vinegar – all talking about the same issues of building their brand, sharing their personality and delivering expert content using the web. Who knows, maybe this cross-fertilisation of ideas might bring new insights or opportunities?

This is the sort of “outside the box” thinking and discussion we hope will emerge from bringing together bloggers who have an interest in wine, including food, travel and maybe other bloggers, at the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference (EWBC). Maybe it will be the Italian balsamic vinegar, or the Spanish wine tourism or maybe the Portuguese designer that will spark the discussion that will lead to a new approach to sharing wine online. Who knows!?

In the meantime, I must say I’ve been reminded of, and impressed by, the range of wines made in Italy, but which are so hard to find outside of it. It is a shame it is so hard to find wines such as the indigenous Pigato, Ciliegiolo, Cesanese and Cannonau – instead of the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio (does anyone know of a great resource on Italian grapes to link to?). I urge you to explore these further.

And on that note, I’m off to taste more wines from 125 producers at TerroirVino. A presto!

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Buy me a glass of wine?

Shiny enomatic dispensers at The Wine Theatre

Shiny enomatic dispensers at The Wine Theatre

I tried a very brief experiment today.

I was off to The Wine Theatre in Southwark for lunch to meet a fellow blogger, Oliver Thring of Thring for your Supper. As I had not tried the restaurant before, but it billed itself as a wine destination, I was hopeful that there would be interesting wines to try. They have their food and wine menu available online (I can’t believe all restaurants do not do this automatically), so it was easier to prepare.

Rather than choosing the wine myself, I opened up the choice to my followers on twitter and “crowdsourced” the choice – hoping they would be inventive, creative … and kind (and not force me to choose the most expensive wines). I’m a little busy with other tasks at the moment so I wasn’t able to encourage lots of participation, but one follower (@philippav) did respond with some excellent suggestions, and mostly ones I would not have made myself.

The result was that we ended up sharing a bottle (I know, it was supposed to be a glass, but we did have starters AND mains) of a Barbera d’Asti 2007 called Teis from Ca’Bianca – a lovely, light bodied and fruity wine (though with great Italian acidity) that matched the mood and conversation perfectly (though you’ll need to read Oliver’s review to see how it matched the food).

image_481I wonder whether this is an interesting challenge for future outings; to allow certain choices in my vinous exploration to be dictated by a group of like-minded individuals and thus encourage greater experimentation – a little like “Yes Man” (but with wine, and more style – not that I’ve seen the film, but I somehow doubt I need to bother based on the cast and the trailer)

Based on today’s results, it is at least worth repeating, but maybe with a little trepidation

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London Wine Fair Gets Social

LIWF 2008
Image by RobWinton via Flickr

I think this must be my third, or possibly fourth, London Wine Trade Fair (LIWF) since I started writing this blog. As a “Trade Only” show, it might not be of interest to many of you, so I don’t talk about it much unless I come across an interesting story or two. This year might be a little different.

The main reason is that the European Wine Bloggers Conference for 2009 has been announced, and the interest in it is such that Ryan and Gabriella Opaz from Catavino.net (my fellow organisers) and I have been invited to talk about the intersection of the wine business and Social Media. We will be speaking in one of the London Wine Trade Fair’s official ‘Briefing’ slots, on Wednesday the 13th of May at 13:00. Our topic is: “Wine and the Web: the Business of Getting Social“. I look forward to sharing a platform with Ryan Opaz and Dan Coward from Bibendum who are sponsoring this talk.

If you are in the wine trade and you can make it on Wednesday, come along to the talk (RSVP here) – we already have lots of wineries, agents, importers, PR and journalists coming along but there is still space left. We want to keep a good proportion of the time for questions, so come prepared, we’ll try to do the same!

The other exciting news from the London Wine Trade Fair this year is that they have begun to recognise wine bloggers as “Press” just as they do for journalists from traditional media. You get a Press badge, access to the Press Centre, WiFi, and a seat! You do have to have some track record of writing about wine on your blog to qualify, which I think that’s fair (I can imagine there are a lot of people who’d like to be able to come along to the biggest wine tasting in the UK), but otherwise, they are keen to give bloggers access to the world’s top wines. If you are not already on the list and you want to know more, leave me a comment here or email me (thirstforwine AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll pass on the details.

If you read this blog you will find me either on Bibendum’s stand (D30) or on the EWBC booth which has been generously organised by ViniPortugal on their stand (B20).

I’ll certainly be sending some thoughts and pictures from the show floor on twitter. If you want to check it out, make sure you follow me on twitter (I’m @thirstforwine)

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Blend your Rhone – tastelive.com in London

Tomorrow (or today when you are probably reading this) a group of intrepid wine lovers in London are joining a global event linked to the Hospice Du Rhone event that supports the varieties and wines of the Rhone region.

Like some past “Twitter Taste Live” events I’ve been involved with, such as the Hugel dinner and the Bibendum trade event, this is an online tasting of wines that allows participants from around the globe to share their experiences.

There will be 2 other major tastings on the same night in the US (With 1winedude in the East and Estate-Sonoma on the West coast) as well as 3 UK events – London, Oxford and Oxted (Surrey). While the US events will focus largely on single varietal wines, and mainly from California, we in the UK are looking at the originals – the blends from France. We want to show that blends can be even more exciting than single varietals, and Gareth Groves from Bibendum (who supplies these wines) will help us out with some expert knowledge.

As of this moment, the best place to read more information on this event is on the existing TTL site here, but tomorrow morning I hope to see the launch of the NEW & IMPROVED TasteLive.com – so I’ll add the link here when I can.

The UK tastings will take place on Friday 17th April, starting at 7pm and probably last just over an hour. We will be tasting:

Alain Jaume Cotes Du Rhone Blanc Haut de Brun 2007
Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Rouge Cuvee des Prelats 2007
Ventoux Rouge Les Sablons Cave Terraventoux 2007
Gigondas Tradition Domaine Font-Sane 2006
Domaine Paul Autard Chateauneuf de Pape 2006

We have chosen these wines to reflect different regions within the Rhone, and to select wines that showcase blends of the indigenous varieties of the Rhone, because this really sets many of them apart from the rest of the world.

One of the great thing about these tastings is that you can combine the face-to-face tasting with friends in a pub (as each group is doing) with the power of Social Media to bring these groups together AND share it with all those who are interested but couldn’t make it. Hopefully, some of those who don’t take part this time will be inspired to do so next time (leave me a comment here or follow me on twitter and I’ll try and keep updated).

I will be with a group of around 10 other ‘twitterers’ in The Lansdowne Pub on Gloucester Avenue in Primrose Hill, a pub with a lovely informal atmosphere and great wines (including, I must admit for full disclosure, some of mine – but we are not tasting those). There is WiFi, so we are all bringing laptops, iPhones, PDAs, etc. so you can expect a great deal of twittering, photos, and maybe even some video.

The Lansdowne is laying on a special menu to accompany these wines which I am REALLY looking forward to:

Snail vol au vent with persillade
Morels and asparagus on grilled bread
Onion tart with gruyere
Roast chicory and ham with breadcrumbs and thyme
Eggs poached in red wine

The other groups taking part are being led by @surf4wine in Oxford and @bigbluemeanie in Oxted, Surrey.

If this sounds interesting, follow the event as it unfolds in the UK from 7pm onwards. If you are already on twitter, follow me (@thirstforwine) but even if you are not, you can watch the comments as they stream in on the homepage of http://tastelive.com

* Photo: Courtesty of The Lansdowne Pub, Primrose Hill, London

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