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Category Archives: Crap wine

Wine that’s either just crap, or because I have paid £20 for it, I am still smarting so it tastes even worse

Worrying times?

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We read about the decline of the wine industry a lot these days.

Usually, if it’s food or drink related, it’s because the big nasty supermarkets are squeezing the little guy. I don’t buy this – well not entirely anyway.

Retailers play in a world where volume and price are key. They know, as this article says, that most customers don’t want to spend more than £6. Supermarket shoppers are not there to read about varieties and swoon over wine packaging. They are there with screaming babies and a ‘get in, get out’ mentality.

So supermarkets aren’t selling wines from the little guy really are they? The little guy has a healthy route to market through the independent off-trade, and independents are holding their own on the high street which is great news (reminds me of the renaissance in beer-making and the renewed love of real ales).

A blogger I follow now runs Park & Bridge in Acton. Down in Cornwall where we spend many holidays binTwo has been ever reliable. In our old neighbourhood, Highbury Vintners continues to prosper and round the corner from where we are living now, Planet of the Grapes sells some sensational stuff.

Still, it is depressing when you think of all that cheap crap that people are knocking back.


The Pope is still Catholic

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Really crap wine alert!!

With my parents visiting for a few days before they embarked on a 3-week trip to Cambodia and Laos we found our weekend plans scuppered somewhat by the Chinese New Year holidays.

Going about one’s business in KL when the roads are so empty is a joy but if you want to get a bite to eat out you need to think carefully as most places are shut. So it was that we acted on my mum’s suggestion to buy a cheap BBQ to put on the balcony, get some nice meats and have a pleasant meal at home.  Our original intention was to go to Skybar or Luna Bar, enjoy the night-time cityscape and then eat at Acme Bar & Coffee. As far as a DIY alternative, then, my mum’s idea was a pretty decent one – after all, the sky-line view from our balcony is better than anything you can get downtown.

Having picked up some mean-looking striploins and merguez sausages I was a little nervous about the integrity of the BBQ owing to the cheap metal. But it managed to stay alive and not melt everywhere, which was a victory of sorts.  My paranoia about smoke and neighbourliness led me to read all the condo’s rules & regulations about a gazillion times, but no-one complained and no jobsworth guards came up, so I assumed we were not contravening regulation 4.5 b) sub-section iii).

The wine we had available for everyday drinking was this pitiful Wolf Blass Eagle Hawk Merlot 2011 – a party donation. I have a certain fondness for Wolf Blass. A bit like my student fondness for Banrock Station Shiraz. Wolf Blass was a brand that my wife and I used to drink a lot of, way back in the day, before we could afford to be pickier. With my mother-in-law being a Waitrose wine-deal fiend and friends bringing it round for dinners, we’d sink gallons of  the Yellow Label cabernet-sauvignon, getting riotously drunk whilst playing board games.

So, Wolf Blass was the cause of many hangovers and plenty of happy memories (though I hated the American-oak vanilla explosion). But times change and palates get choosier, and what served a purpose then certainly does not now.

I was pleased with the steaks and our BBQ meal but the wine was a f*cking abomination – from its pallid, pathetic hue to the almost indistinguishable, limp flavours, it was like drinking a slightly fermented ribena with all the fun taken out. I know that Merlot is soft, fruity, jammy and used most often in Bordeaux blends to soften harsher more tannic grapes, but I would hesitate to even call this wine. I suppose I must remember that you are limited to what you can do with rubbish like this; chuck it in a stew (which brings up the stew/wine conundrum, see previous post) or decant it down the plug-hole.

Drinking it is not a good idea.


Just like the Pope’s being Catholic, this ‘everyday drinking’ wine was designed to be crap.

Having been pleasantly surprised by better-than-expected wines in the past, I should’ve trusted my gut instinct and prior knowledge of the producer to know this would be an as-bad-as-expected experience.

More fool me.

Selamat malam


Are you Tottenham in disguise?

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I’m not aware of an immediate or obvious link between wine and football, unless

a) you happen to be Sir Alex Ferguson who apparently knows his stuff (coming in for some stinging snobbery last year courtesy of the Telegraph)

b) you’re a Russian oligarch in which case you are vying with the Chinese for control of the Bordeaux vineyards

c) you’re a member of the Prawn-Sandwich-Brigade, which would mean you probably don’t know your Riesling from your Riise.

But after my most recent bottle of wine and with the culmination of the English domestic leagues fast approaching – the Manchester derby on Tuesday and Southampton making an emotional return to the top-flight after 7 years – the two subjects seem apposite. Well, I’m giving it a go anyway…

As a newly relegated single man (only by virtue of a trip to the UK by my wife) I was angsty about spending the weekend on my own. I’d trawled the malls, contributed to global capitalism, solo-lunched, and bitched off my local climbing gym. I was very definitely Will Freeman from Nick Hornby’s About a Boy, but without the massive bank balance. Read the rest of this entry

Balcony breakfast

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Feeling a bit hungover this morning after last night’s unexpectedly intoxicating bottle of Jim Barry 2004 The Lodge Hill RieslingRead the rest of this entry

When even bad wine is good

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One of the things about moving to a completely new country is that it totally shifts your perceptions, expectations, tolerance levels and subjectivity. It’s a strange feeling, especially when you have high standards. For a wine lover living in KL this presents a conundrum.

Having moved into our amazing new apartment, a sort of Xanadu-come-Avatar condo development in trendy Bangsar (sorry, Bukit Bandaraya to give it its posh name) we are slowly settling into a sort of alternate universe.

Ok, so some things don’t change….. cue head banging on the table at internet speeds and the feeling of stress as you hit traffic on the way to a meeting….but other things, things that you actually care about, do. Read the rest of this entry

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